Five Years Later: Celebrating the Life of Adolfo Ich Chamán

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GHRC stands in solidarity with families and community members gathering today in El Estor, Guatemala to commemorate the five-year anniversary of the assassination of Adolfo Ich Chamán. On September 27 of 2009, Adolfo was murdered by private security forces working for … Continue reading

Carta de Solidaridad: Recordando la vida de Adolfo Ich Chamán

Angelica Choc con una foto de su esposo, Adolfo Ich Chamán. Foto por James Rodríguez.

Angelica Choc with a photo of her husband, Adolfo. Photo by James Rodríguez.

Guatemala, 27 de septiembre de 2014

Han pasado cinco años desde aquel día en que cortaron la vida del profesor Adolfo Ich Chamán. Con su asesinato se hizo evidente, una vez más, que en Guatemala siguen corriendo muchos riesgos quienes tienen como opción de vida trabajar en servicio de los demás. Y ese era Adolfo Ich Chaman, el profesor, el padre, el esposo, el vecino, el ser humano que por sus convicciones a favor de los derechos, la justicia y la vida hoy no está con nosotros físicamente, pero que hoy le estamos recordando. Continue reading

Martial Law Declared Again in Conflict Over Natural Resources

GHRC expresses concern about the declaration of a “State of Prevention” in the municipality of San Juan Sacatepéquez, allegedly in response to acts of violence committed in the community of Los Pajoques on the 19th and 20th of September. Despite the localized nature of the conflict, the administration of President Otto Pérez Molina made the controversial decision to suspend basic constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly, throughout the entire municipality for the next 15 days.

sjs-collage-eblastLos Pajoques is one of twelve communities in San Juan Sacatepéquez that have been involved in an ongoing resistance movement to the construction of a cement quarry and processing plant, and recently have opposed the construction of a highway that would cut through the community on its way to the quarry. Their opposition is grounded in concerns about the profound impact that the operations of the cement factory could have on the environment, in an area renown for the cultivation of vegetables and flowers.

The violence, which reportedly left 11 dead, was a tragic manifestation of the division, tension and desperation that has existed in San Juan Sacatepéquez since the arrival of the powerful cement company, Cementos Progreso, in 2006. Continue reading

CMI Reports Attacks After Coverage in Alta Verapaz

Information provided by the Independent Media Center in Guatemala (CMI-G).

Several attacks were made against the Independent Media Center in Guatemala in the wake of the center’s coverage of a recent violent eviction in the department of Alta Verapaz. In a joint operation carried out by the police, military forces, and some civilians, more than 100 families were displaced, at least five community leaders were arrested, and three people were killed. These events — which occurred in an area where there are strong interests in hydroelectric, extractive, and agricultural mega-projects — have still not been properly investigated or resolved.

Just after the eviction, CMI suffered attacks on its web page and server, which prohibited the immediate publication of information. Then, on August 23, a person who lives in the same house as one of the CMI reporters was kidnapped, harassed, and beaten. Direct threats were also made to the reporter who authored the columns about the eviction at Alta Verapaz.

GHRC echoes CMI’s concerns that this attack represents a growing trend of criminalization and repression of independent journalists and communications professionals. Others have been similarly targeted, such as Ricard Busquets from the Comite de Unidad Campesina (CUC), and Francisca Gómez Grijalva, a journalist who was threatened with trial for writing a column that critiqued industrial manufacturing company Cementos Progreso for abuse of power.

Read the original CMI article in Spanish:

Desde el inicio de la cobertura que realizó un equipo del Centro de Medios Independientes de Guatemala (CMI-G) acerca de los más recientes desalojos en el departamento de Alta Verapaz, realizados por agentes de la Policía Nacional Civil, ejército y algunos civiles que irregularmente los acompañaban, se inició una cadena de ataques, entre ellos informáticos, que impidieron publicar de forma inmediata la información recopilada durante los acontecimientos.1 En esa acción fueron desplazadas más de cien familias, se capturó a cinco líderes comunitarios y tres campesinos fueron asesinados, en hechos hasta ahora no esclarecidos. Continue reading

In Ferguson and in Guatemala

Over the last week, we have listened with growing horror as news reached us from Monte Olivo, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Since 2010, residents of the region who oppose the construction of the Santa Rita hydroelectric dam have been victim to various attacks, including one in August 2013 that left two young boys dead.http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?key=-1&url_num=2&url=http%3A%2F%2Forg.salsalabs.com%2Fo%2F2690%2Fp%2Fdia%2Faction3%2Fcommon%2Fpublic%2F%3Faction_KEY%3D16152

Then, last week, according to the Prensa Comunitaria, the government deployed over 1,000 police to Monte Olivo to evict 160 families of the community 9 de Febrero. As helicopters flew overhead, police and day laborers destroyed homes and assaulted residents, leaving several people injured. Five people were also arrested in Monte Olivo, as well as two others in nearby Raxruhá. In response, hundreds of people blocked the highway to prevent the passage of the police. In an ensuing conflict between protesters and police, three men were killed in the community of Semacoch, allegedly by police gunfire, and several people were injured, including six police. Eight police were also detained by protesters, but have since been released.

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Guatemala News Update: August 11-15

Agreement to construct hydroelectric project leads to violent eviction

An agreement signed between the mining company Hidro Santa Rita and President Otto Pérez Molina on July 30 resulted in a violent eviction in Monte Olivo, Cobán, Alta Verapaz. As a result of the eviction and subsequent protests, 24 people were arrested, six police officers injured, and three people died. There was reportedly no consultation with the communities that would be affected by the project’s installation.

Another Goldcorp crime is exposed

An interview with a woman by the alias of “Doña A” recounts the alleged 2009 murder of her husband by employees of the Marlin Mine in Northwest Guatemala. Her husband informed neighboring communities about the negative effects the mine would have and also helped organize a community referendum. Continue reading

Update on La Puya: Resistance Faces New Threats

Photo courtesy of La Puya en Resistencia

Photo courtesy of La Puya en Resistencia

This morning, at 2:00 am, three large trucks and a machine that would serve to wash gold arrived at the El Tambor gold mine. Members of La Puya have once again moved to peacefully protest the entry of heavy machinery into the mine.

Those present at La Puya, working in shifts, managed to prevent entry of the machinery for at least an hour. However, unable to resist against the large number of police officers present, protesters eventually made way for the trucks to come through. As they entered, the four trucks destroyed the canvas tarp that served as a makeshift roof for members of La Puya.

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