Weekly News Roundup

April 12th-April 26th

National

  • Lawsuit brought against Attorney General.  Danilo Rodríguez Gálvez, the lawyer for Efraín Ríos Montt, submitted a complaint against the Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz because she has not respected the legal process and is illegally prosecuting the former general.  Human rights groups have denounced this- among other appeals and injunctions- as an attempt to obstruct justice.
  • Remains of 99 victims of Guatemala´s internal armed conflict found inside a military base. A forensic team found the remains of 99 bodies in 15 pits on the grounds of a military base in Coban. The team of specialists is looking for the remains of 200 to 300 people who disappeared during the internal armed conflict. The exhumation efforts come as a response to requests from prosecutors and families of the disappeared. The military post where exhumation takes places is currently home to the UN Peacekeeping training Center, CREOMPAZ.  GHRC visited the exhumation in March with FAMDEGUA and has asked the UN to facilitate increased access for families, NGOs and the media.
  • Forced displacement of elderly protestors. At 3:30 in the morning on April 19th, protestors who had taken refuge at the “Refugio Dulce” during the night were brutally displaced by agents of the National Civilian Police and the Presidential Secretary for Security and Administrative Affairs. Earlier this week the demonstrators had set up their camp outside of the Presidential Palace to continue their protest which they had suspended during the Easter festivities. The protestors came from areas including Petén, Dolores and Jalapa to demand a budget of Q18 million (US $2.3 million) for the construction of housing in 9 departments. The budget was cut by Congress due to ‘abnormalities’ in the handling of the funds.
  • Group of unionists protest in Guatemala City  In the second large protest in a month, unionists of the Frente Nacional de Lucha asked for improvements in the health, education, and security sectors and the prosecution of the individuals responsible for the death of their fellow unionists.  They met with Vice-President Roxana Baldetti and future meetings will take place every 3 months.
  •  Second campesino march for rural development. Members of the National Council of Peasant Organizations (CNOC) and the Committee of Peasant Unity (CUC) demanded action from the government.  They want recognition of their ancestral lands, nationalization of electric energy plants, and an end to forced displacements.
  • Inter-American Court hears “Diario Militar” case.  The Inter-American Court on Human Rights heard testimony from family members of 27 individuals who disappeared during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict.  Kate Doyle from the National Security Archive testified, saying that the Guatemalan government systematically hid information about the internal armed conflict.   The case was opened after the National Security Archive received and published the military book, known as the “Diario Militar.”  It was written by the President’s Intelligence Unit between 1983 and 1985 and implicates several members of the Guatemalan military, including Gudiel Álvarez, for forced disappearances and the torture of a young girl. Final testimony will be heard June 8th.
  • New technology revives investigation of Gerardi case. Fourteen years ago Monsignor Juan Gerardi was murdered in his garage; those who physically carried out the brutal crimes are in jail, but now new technology is being used in a second phase of investigations seeking to charge the intellectual authors.  DNA and fingerprint analysis, as well as reconstruction of the crime scene, are used to find new information on the suspects.
  • 201 crimes attributed to Ríos Montt.  The Public Prosecutor charged ex-head of state Efraín Ríos Montt for his role in sending the Kaibiles to Dos Erres, an act which resulted in the massacre of 201 men, women, and children on December 7, 1982. Five ex-Kabilies were already charged with 6,060 years in prison for their role in the massacre.  Ríos Montt’s defense attorney claims that his client is being targeted simply because he was the head of state.
  • Rosalina Tuyuc receives Peace Award.  Rosalina Tuyuc received the Niwano Peace Prize for her work as a peace activist and human rights defender.  This is the first time an indigenous woman has received the award.

International News

  • US announces aid program to Guatemala The United States Southern Command announced yesterday a 3-month aid program which will be developed in the departments of Coban, Alta Verapaz, Ayutla, Malacatan and San Marcos. In addition to providing medical assistance, the US military will participate in construction programs of public buildings and health facilities.
  • International Rights Advocates released a video denouncing the United States medical experiments on Guatemalans during the 1940s.  The victims of these tests still have not been compensated.
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