Guatemala News Update: April 7-11

 

Children from La Puya play at the movement's two-year anniversary

Children from La Puya play at the movement’s two-year anniversary

New tension in La Puya

Members of the peaceful resistance at La Puya are facing threats and intimidation once more from mining company Kappes, Cassiday and Associates (KCA). Yesterday, a new KCA subcontractor, Transmac, attempted to bring heavy machinery into the mining site. Due to community pressure, Transmac eventually removed the mining equipment, but a strong police presence has grown and remains around San Jose del Golfo. For updates, check our blog and Facebook page.

Nomination Committee to review objections against attorney general candidates

The 26 candidates that the Nomination Committee is considering for the next attorney general position underwent psychiatric evaluations. The results of the evaluations, however, will be kept confidential. Human rights advocates expressed their concern for the lack of transparency that surrounds the selection process of the Nomination Committee. The Committee will also review objections presented against 15 of the 26 candidates, among them current Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz. Those who have received objections must submit evidence regarding the accusations in order to continue in the race for the attorney general position.

Central American Regional Security Conference focuses on Operation Martillo 

At the Central American Regional Security Conference last week, leaders from Latin American nations, the UK, and the US met to discuss Operation Martillo, the illicit trafficking mission in Central America and the Caribbean. Beginning in January of 2012, the mission has aimed to dismantle criminal organizations and confiscate drugs being trafficked through the region. U.S. Marine Corps General John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, called the mission a success, and he and Guatemalan Chief of National Defense Major General Rudy Ortiz met with human rights group Grupo Apoyo Mutual to involve civil society in the operation.

Femicide gets spotlight in court

Guatemala is ranked as having the highest number of femicides in the region, though it is making progress through femicide courts created in 2010. This article outlines the death of 18-year-old Estéfani Julissa Estrada Neill at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, who was given a 50-year prison sentence. Hilda Morales Trujillo, director of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Victim Services, drew attention to the fact that femicide is not just the female counterpart to homicide, but it is a “result of unequal power relations.” Although progress is being made, challenges facing the courts include shortcomings in the use of forensic evidence, excessive reliance on testimonial evidence, and the fact that the courts are not operating all over the country.

Justice for victims of El Aguacate Massacre

At the hearing of Felipe Solano Barillas, alias “Lieutenant David,” families of the 22 people killed in the El Aguacate Massacre in 1988 testified and were horrified to finally learn the details of their relatives’ murders. The El Aguacate Massacre is one of the few massacres that took place during the civil war at the hands of guerrilla fighters. Solano Barillas is the only ex-guerrilla being tried.

UN High Commissioner on Human Rights denounces suspension of Judge Barrios

The Guatemalan Bar Association (CANG) issued a one-year suspension against Judge Yassmín Barrios, who issued the initial ruling against former military leader Efraín Rios Montt, which was later overturned. The suspension derived from an accusation from José Mauricio Rodríguez’s legal team regarding Judge Barrios’ supposed abuse of power. Judge Barrios fought back against the suspension, noting that it signifies “that the door to impunity and corruption is being opened.” GHRC stands with other human rights organizations in support of Judge Barrios.

Cabinet of Indigenous Peoples receives critiques

The Cabinet of Indigenous Peoples, headed by President Pérez Molina, was created to comply with the state’s promise to contribute to the construction of equality and unity among various ethnic groups in the country. According to indigenous rights advocates, however, the installation of the Cabinet is simply a political tool for Pérez Molina to use as positive publicity in the 2015 election and stands no chance of getting any real work done in 2014.

New case puts Guatemalan press freedom in spotlight again

In addition to the case brought against El Periodico editor Jose Rubén Zamora earlier this year by Vice President Roxana Baldetti, Juan Luis Font — editor of the magazine Contrapoder – will be tried for criminal libel. Reporters Without Borders has condemned the charges and is urging authorities to “recognize this judicial aberration.” Guatemala is ranked 125th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

Guatemala ranked fifth in countries with the most homicides

According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Guatemala is ranked as having the fifth highest homicide rate in the Americas, behind Honduras, Venezuela, Belize and El Salvador, respectively.

 

Members of ‘La Puya’ Face Intimidation, New Threats of Eviction

*From Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA):

Throughout the day yesterday, intimidation and threats of eviction by the National Police — at the service of US mining company Kappes, Cassiday and Associates (KCA) — continued against communities in resistance at ‘La Puya.’ Transmac, a local company contracted by KCA, arrived at the mine site with heavy machinery. The private company was escorted by the National Civil Police (PNC) as ordered by the Ministry of the Interior. By mid-day, community pressure forced Transmac to remove the machinery from the area, although two representatives of KCA’s local subsidiary, EXMINGUA, remained throughout the day. The police presence also remained and continued to grow. By 4 pm, there were roughly 300 agents, many of whom were women dressed in full riot gear, lined up outside the entrance to the peaceful encampment. No eviction order had been issued, but the intent was clear: to intimidate and provoke those in resistance.

*From Comunitaria Press:

Nuevamente la resistencia pacífica de La Puya esta siendo amenazada por la presencia de personeros y trabajadores de la empresa minera EXMINGUA – Kappes Cassiday & Associates KCA. Además hay presencia policíaca y del ejército en las cercanías de “La Puya“.

En horas de la mañana de este miércoles 9 de abril 2014, un nuevo contingente de trabajadores mineros pretende ingresar maquinaria y camiones al interior de la finca en donde se encuentra el proyecto minero “El Tambor” Progreso VII Derivada.

A las nueve de la mañana se hicieron presentes un convoy de maquinaria contratada por la por la empresa minera EXMINGUA , esta maquinaria grande y pesada entre ellas una retroexcavadora y camiones de volteo. Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: March 31 – April 4

Say “No!” to U.S. funds for the Guatemalan Army

Upside Down World publicized the call from us at GHRC and our partners at NISGUA for the US government to maintain restrictions on funding to the Guatemalan Army, as Guatemala has not complied with conditions laid out in the 2014 US Appropriations Law.

Click here to sign our petition!

Activist Makrina Gudiel calls on students for solidarity during GHRC Speaker’s Tour 

During the GHRC Spring 2014 Speaker’s Tour, Guatemalan Activist Makrina Gudiel and GHRC Assistant Director Kathryn Johnson are speaking to students and community members at various locations along the East Coast. This article details Makrina’s presentations in Dartmouth and New Bedford, MA, where she outlined her struggle during the armed conflict in Guatemala and her fight to bring her brother’s and father’s deaths to justice. For the full Speaker’s Tour schedule, click here.

CICIG to investigate corruption in the judicial system

CICIG Spokesman Diego Alvarez confirmed that an investigation into the existence of links between criminal organizations and the judicial system is key. He noted that the investigation may be difficult, since certain individuals favor impunity.

Motives of suicide of Judge Barrientos questioned

Guatemalan Supreme Court Justice and human rights defender César Ricardo Crisóstomo Barrientos Pellecer committed suicide one month ago. An investigation suggest that the details surrounding his death relate to the pressure he was facing regarding his work in the judicial system. CICIG chief Iván Velásquez, who worked closely with Barrientos not long before his death, noted that Barrientos was primarily  concerned with judicial corruption and the need for action with respect to those facing a high risk of danger. Barrientos reported several incidents — including threatening phone calls, petitions to have him resign, damages to his mother’s grave and bullet holes in his car — that went unanswered.

New case regarding violence against women brought to Inter-American Court

Claudina Isabel Velásquez Paiz disappeared and was murdered in 2005. Ten years later, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will hear the case regarding the Guatemalan government’s failure to investigate the crime. This hearing will question Guatemala’s policies of discrimination and violence against women.

Guatemalan government creates Cabinet of Indigenous Peoples and Cultural Diversity

In response to claims that Guatemala has failed to comply with the Agreement on Indigenous Rights, Guatemala has created the Cabinet of Indigenous Peoples and Cultural Diversity, which will last for a period of 10 years. President Pérez Molina will preside over the cabinet, which was created to comply with the state’s promise to contribute to the construction of equality and unity among various ethnic groups in the country, which make up 42 percent of the population.

Guatemala News Update: March 17-21

Human Rights Ombudsman to reprimand institutions for noncompliance with Access to Information Law

The Human Rights Ombudsman, Jorge de León, announced that his office will present a report to the Public Ministry that will list institutions which have failed to comply with the Access to Information Law. 

Format of elections for Supreme Electoral Court questioned

Last week, Guatemalan parliament chose five judges and five alternate judges to comprise the Supreme Electoral Court until 2020. The judges were chosen in private meetings and some are now questioning the secretive format of the elections, fearing that the chosen judges may have to return favors to the election committee. 

Mother of jailed military officer murdered

The mother of Juan Chiroy, a military officer awaiting trial for the murder of six indigenous people in Totonicapan, was found dead after being beaten and strangled in her home. The deaths for which Chiroy is accused took place in October 2012, when indigenous people were protesting a rise in electricity rates. 

Controversy continues over end of term for Claudia Paz y Paz

The Constitutional Court established that Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz’s term in office will end May 17, despite having made major strides for justice in Guatemala. Paz y On her chances of being chosen by the Nominating Committee as one of the six candidates for the next term, Paz y Paz said she hopes her application and others will be examined by merits.

Prisoners held without conviction 

This article, titled “Guatemala: without freedom and without hope” outlines the tragic stories of women who are imprisoned simply for being poor. The article states that a report last August noted that up to 55 percent of those imprisoned are being held without a firm conviction. 

Former Guatemalan president pleads guilty to money laundering

Guatemala’s former president Alfonso Portillo, who held office from 2000 to 2004, pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy in a New York City Federal Court on Tuesday. He confirmed that he accepted $2.5 million in bribes to recognize Taiwan diplomatically. Portillo acknowledged his wrongdoing and entered into a deal with U.S. prosecutors, agreeing not to appeal any prison term between four and six years. Now, Guatemala is requesting a report from Taiwan about the bribery.

National Civil Police adds to its forces

The PNC added 1,613 police officers to its force on Tuesday, among them 463 women. The new officers will be sent to southern regions of the country to “combat violence” and attempt to decrease the homicide rate, which stood at 6,072 in 2013. 

Another article notes that almost two-thirds of Latin America’s security forces are concentrated in seven countries — one of which is Guatemala — according to the platform Map of Citizen Security, a project by Brazilian NGO Instituto Igarapé, InSight Crime and the Inter-American Development Bank. 

Study finds greater conflicts in municipalities with high concentration of mining licenses

A study by the Central American Institute of Fiscal Studies (Icefi) and the NGO Ibis found that 78 percent of municipalities with high concentrations of mining licenses have high levels of conflict. Despite these high rates of conflict, Guatemala became the first Central American country to receive certification from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) this week.

Guatemala News Update March 8-14

Under the Volcano: Mining conflicts in Guatemala erupting in violence

Tensions continue to grow over mineral exploitation in Guatemala. One mining resistance movement, extraordinary for its dedication to non-violence and its success to date, is La Puya. The movement celebrated its second anniversary on March 3rd. The movement has lessons to offer other movements in Guatemala, as well as environmental movements in the U.S. 

Backlash continues over hydroelectric projects in Guatemala

An estimated 20,000 people demonstrated in Guatemala City last week against a plan to expand energy projects throughout rural areas of Guatemala complaining that energy prices are too high and that hydroelectric projects would result in displacement and land seizures. Of 57 sources of conflict identified by the country’s Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, 17 are hydroelectric projects, including Chixoy and Xalalá. 

“There’s no justice for the people whose human rights were violated,” Kelsey Alford-Jones, executive director of the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission USA, said. Major hydroelectric and mining projects are notorious for “corruption and rubber stamping of environmental impact reports,” which has “led to severe lack of trust in public institutions.”

Survivors remember victims of Río Negro Massacre

Carmen Sánchez, whose son Miguel was murdered in the Río Negro Massacre at three years old on May 14, 1982, remembers her son and other victims of the massacre that was the devastating result of the installation of the Chixoy Dam. Community members, including Carmen, knew there were conflicts related to the pending dam, but never thought the soldiers would come to Río Negro. Thirty-two years later, justice has still not come. Through the Appropriations Act passed by the U.S. Congress, Carmen and other survivors are hoping that peace will come one day.

Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: March 3-7

Investigation to follow death of Supreme Court Justice César Barrientos Pellecer

Guatemalan Supreme Court Justice César Barrientos Pellecer died last Sunday in Mazatenango bullet wounds to the head. News sources first presented conflicting reports as to whether his death was a suicide or a homicide; however, the National Forensic Science Institute (Inacif) confirmed that Barrientos committed suicide. GHRC expressed profound sadness regarding Barrientos’ death and released a note, written by Barrientos shortly before his death, which exemplified his dedication to justice. Now, the court must choose someone to fill the vacancy left by Barrientos.

Two years of peaceful resistance in La Puya

The communities of San José de Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc (‘La Puya’) celebrated two years of peaceful resistance last Sunday against a mining project by U.S.-owned company Kappes, Cassiday and Associates that would cause severe harm to the environment. Around 1,000 people joined a march on Sunday to commemorate the anniversary. See highlights and photos from the event here.

Claudia Paz y Paz to run for reelection

Claudia Paz y Paz announced that she will turn in her application to run for reelection as Guatemala’s attorney general on March 7. Four other candidates have officially turned in their documentation to run. Attorneys Jorge Luis Donado Vivar, Julio Cesar Rivera Clavería, Silvia Janeth García, and Edgar Abel López Sosa are the other candidates thus far. Though the CC still has not resolved the issue of when Paz y Paz’s term will officially end (May or December), the nominating committee must choose six candidates total by May 2.

Guatemala to analyze State Department’s human rights report

After the U.S. State Department released its annual human rights report on Guatemala, noting increases in homicides, impunity and corruption, President Otto Pérez Molina responded by announcing that the country will investigate the human rights abuses before taking an official position on the report. Still, he lamented that the report failed to recognize any of the advances that the country has made, including police reform.

Judge Barrios receives Annual Women of Courage Award

Judge Yassmin Barrios, who issued the initial ruling against former military leader Efraín Rios Montt, is among ten women who received the “International Award for the Courage of Women” on Wednesday. Michelle Obama participated in the awards ceremony. Barrios is lauded for her work in the Rios Montt trial, despite the fact that the decision was later overturned, and is recognized for giving a voice to the indigenous Ixil people.

Two Monte Olivo community members arrested

Two members of the resistance movement against the Santa Rita hydroelectric dam in the Monte Olivo community were arrested on Monday. The media reported that those captured were drug traffickers, criminalizing the detainees. This event is one of many acts of aggression against communities in resistance.

ACODET denounces military and police intervention in Xalalá

Police forces intervened last month in Xalalá, citing suspicions of drug trafficking activity. Residents have been protesting the construction of a dam in the community and are rejecting the notion that there is any drug activity in region; they believe the intervention is an effort to force the resistance movement out so the construction of the dam can commence. The Association of Communities for the Development and Defense of Territory (ACODET) spoke out against the arrival of National Police and military forces.

Guatemala asks for extension of UN Human Rights Commission

Guatemala applied for a three-year extension of the UN Human Rights Commission, which has been in the country since 2005. Ambassador Fernando Carrera presented the request to UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Navi Pillay, at the UN meeting in Geneva. Carerra noted that Pillay “recognized this gesture as proof of Guatemala’s commitment to the promotion of human rights.”

Femicide increases in Guatemala in 2013

According to Guatemala’s Mutual Support Group (GAM), cases of femicide grew by almost seven percent in 2013, and represent 12.5 percent of the total 6,032 registered homicides in Guatemala in 2013. Mercedes Hernandez, President of GAM, stated that although the Rios Montt trial last year gave voice to indigenous women who were silenced by violence, it has also led to a surge in violence against women.

Guatemala News Update: February 24-March 2

Two years of peaceful resistance in La Puya

The community of La Puya celebrated two years of peaceful resistance yesterday against a mining project by U.S.-owned company Kappes, Cassiday and Associates that would cause severe harm to the environment and affect the health and homes of many in the areas of San José de Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc. Around 1,000 people joined a march to commemorate the anniversary and protest future mining plans. Last week, the contracting company broke their relationship with KCA and pulled the machinery out of the mine permanently. GHRC joined the protesters in solidarity and La Puya presented GHRC with a certificate of appreciation for standing by them in peaceful resistance.

Short-list of candidates for attorney general position to be presented in May; CC hears final arguments regarding the term of Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz

The nominating committee will turn in a list of six candidates for the next attorney general to President Pérez Molina on May 2. Candidates, who must prove their legal and personal accomplishments and that they do not associate with members of organized crime, may apply this Friday through March 7. Paz y Paz has not yet decided whether she will run for reelection.

The Constitutional Court heard final arguments on February 26 from Claudia Paz y Paz on why she should stay in office until December, and from Ricardo Sagastume on why her term should end in May. Supporters from both sides attended the hearing, including representatives from GHRC. Though Paz y Paz supporters had a greater presence, Sagastume said he felt “secure” that the court would rule in his favor. The Court has 15 days to deliver a decision.

Inter-American Development Bank to cooperate with Guatemalan government for Chixoy reparations

After meeting with President Pérez Molina and Minister of Finance María Castro, Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank, announced that the Bank will cooperate with the Guatemalan government to compensate surviving victims of the 1980s Chixoy Dam project.

Human rights defenders cite slow advances for justice in Guatemala

In honor of the UN’s Commission for Historic Clarification’s report “Memorias del Silencio,” released 15 years ago, human rights organizations expressed that progress has been slow regarding access to justice for the victims of Guatemala’s internal armed conflict.

Central American women speak out against violence

This Guardian piece looks at the obstacles, including threats and harassment, faced by women human rights defenders in Central America, as well efforts by the Mesoamerican Human Rights Defenders’ Initiative (IM-Defensoras) to provide women with security and support. The article highlights Lolita Chavez, a GHRC partner who came to the US to speak last year, who has been targeted on multiple occasions for speaking up for indigenous rights and women’s rights.

High Risk Court declines to hear Rios Montt amnesty application

The High Risk Court declined to analyze Rios Montt’s request for amnesty. The President of the Tribunal explained that the High Risk Court already ruled on this issue in October of 2012 and could not rule on it again. This is the third court to excuse itself from the process. Rios Montt is currently under house arrest and is awaiting his trial in January of 2015, though his application for amnesty must be decided first.

Inter American Press Association asks Guatemala to investigate murder of four journalists

A delegation from the Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa (SIP) visited Guatemala last week to meet with President Pérez Molina and other officials on the status of freedom of the press in the country, as recent events have signaled an increase in violence against journalists. The SIP encouraged the administration to investigate the murder of four journalists last year. 

Later this week, the CC decided to suspend measures against José Rubén Zamora, the president of “El Periódico,” who Vice President Roxana Baldetti accused of falsifying information about corruption in the administration. As a result, Guatemala will establish the “Sistema de Protección a Periodistas” (Journalists’ Protection System) to ensure freedom of the press and safety for journalists. The U.S. Department of State’s annual report on human rights throughout the world also expressed concern for violations regarding press freedom in Guatemala in 2013.

Trial begins for another ex-guerilla leader

In Chimaltenango, the trial began on Thursday for an ex-guerilla leader accused of killing 21 indigenous farm workers in 1988 during the Civil War. The accused, Fermín Solano Barillas, has been in prison since May of last year, and could be sentenced to more than 50 years in prison.

Nine convicted in May 2011 massacre

A Guatemalan court convicted three Mexican and six Guatemalan drug traffickers last Friday in the massacre of Guatemalan farm workers in May of 2011. The sentences given were for 106 to 114 years in prison.

Guatemala News Update: February 17-21

La Puya: Two years of peaceful resistance

March 2 will mark two years of the successful and peaceful protests of the people of “La Puya” against harmful mining interests. Activists state that the solution to resolve the conflict in La Puya would be for the government to consult the affected community and revoke the license it granted to the mining company. Festivities to commemorate the anniversary have already begun. Please sign our letter in solidarity with La Puya in  in English or in Spanish!

Paz y Paz to testify before the CC next week

Claudia Paz y Paz will give testimony before the Constitutional Court next Wednesday regarding why she should stay in office through December of 2014, instead of only through May. The attorney general holds that her term ends four years after she was appointed, which would be this December. She is still deciding if she will run for reelection.

Appeals in genocide trial of Rios Montt advance

The Constitutional Court ordered the Second Appeals Court to decide if amnesty should be applied in the case against General Rios Montt for genocide and war crimes based on a law passed in 1986. The Court requested an explanation of the decision with “solid legal arguments.” In a separate appeal in the same case, the Constitutional Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on March 26 regarding Judge Patricia Flores’s ruling to restart the trial from where it was in November of 2011. The trial of Rios Montt, who is currently under house arrest, is scheduled to continue in January of 2015.

Organizations call for approval of law to search for disappeared

This week, Guatemalan human rights organizations called for Congress to approve a law to search for those who disappeared during the internal armed conflict. Created in 2007, the law would create a National Commission to Search for Victims of Forced Disappearance, in order to “pay the Guatemalan State’s immeasurable debt to the more than 45,000 people disappeared.” The organizations asked for the support of President Pérez Molina, as the law has not been approved by any of the last three administrations.

Inter American Press Association sends delegation to Guatemala 

The Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa (SIP) is sending a delegation to Guatemala to examine the state of freedom of the press in the country. The delegation will meet with officials including President Pérez Molina, Attorney General Paz y Paz and others. The president commented that he was “ready to accept the delegation and clarify that we are respectful of the freedom of the press, but also that his administration does not accept lies.” The visit comes just days after an assassination attempt on a local TV news anchor.

Guatemala News Update: February 10-14

Representatives from international organizations (including GHRC Executive Director Kelsey Alford-Jones, second from right) express concerns about the reduction of Attorney General Paz y Paz's term at a press conference in Guatemala City.

Representatives from international organizations (including GHRC Executive Director Kelsey Alford-Jones, second from right) express concerns about the reduction of Attorney General Paz y Paz’s term at a press conference in Guatemala City.

GHRC and other international organizations call for transparency in election of new attorney general

On Wednesday, GHRC and other international organizations called for transparency in the election of a new attorney general, after the ruling that Claudia Paz y Paz will end her term this May. The organizations’ spokespeople stated that transparency in this process will help ensure that the right person gets the job. GHRC Executive Director Kelsey Alford-Jones noted that the process should include people from all sectors of society. Read our blog about the press conference for more information.

Assistant Secretary Brownfield visits Guatemala

The Assistant Secretary of State for International Issues on Drugs and Security met with top officials including Iván Velázquez, head of CICIG, on Monday. Brownfield announced that the U.S. will give 5 to 10 million dollars to fight drug trafficking and that the countries will work together under the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). He affirmed that the U.S. and Guatemala are “partners,” despite recent controversial events including the conditions imposed by the U.S. Appropriations Act and the shortening of Paz y Paz’s term in office.

Pérez Molina administration continues to protest against Appropriations Act

In statements released this week, President Otto Pérez Molina criticized a US Congressional Staffer for poorly and incorrectly advising members of congress regarding the conditions imposed on the Guatemalan government under the U.S. Appropriations Act. Despite the statements against the staffer, the government expressed gratitude for the financial assistance that the U.S. continues to provide for the spread of democracy.

Senator Leahy responded to the attack on his staff calling the declarations misinformed and imprecise. He also pointed out that his committee approved close to $100 million in funds to Guatemala, and encouraged the Guatemalan Government to implement the reparations plan for the communities affected by the Chixoy Dam.

Earlier this week, Vice President Roxana Baldetti announced that land confiscated from drug traffickers would not be used to compensate Chixoy victims, as originally stated.

Miami Herald: Deep concern over ruling to shorten Paz y Paz’s term

Officials from the U.S. Department of State and the UN’s Anti-Impunity Commission in Guatemala (CICIG) expressed concern for the court’s ruling to end Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz’s term in May of this year instead of December. The decision could have serious drawbacks for strides in human rights.

Despite reservations expressed by many members, and, protests from human rights groups, the Guatemalan Congress voted to form the commission to choose the next attorney general.

“Fighting for Human Rights”

In part three of a four-part series on Guatemala, the Huffington Post details the work of Freddy Peccerelli, a Guatemalan anthropologist in New York, who is committed to uncovering the atrocities of massacres during the 36-year civil war. The article mentions human rights defenders who were assassinated for their work, and non-profit organizations that fight for the cause, including GHRC.

Ex-soldier gets ten years for lying on U.S. immigration forms

Jorge Sosa, a former Guatemalan soldier, was sentenced to ten years in prison for lying on U.S. immigration forms about his role in the 1982 Dos Erres massacre and other war crimes. A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer testified that Sosa never would have received residence or citizenship in the U.S. if he had disclosed the truth.

Guatemala News Update February 1-7

Attorney General Paz y Paz ordered to step down in May

Guatemala’s Constitutional Court provisionally ruled that Attorney General Paz y Paz will end her term in May of this year instead of December.  International bodies, and Paz y Paz herself, argued against the decision. They claim that the decision was because those who have been affected by “crusader” Paz y Paz’s quest for justice while in office want her removed. The court ordered Congress to convene the commission to find Paz y Paz’s successor, but despite support from the Patriot Party there were not enough votes in favor of doing so.

Photo: mimundo.org

Photo: mimundo.org

Guatemalan government to respond to conditions in the U.S. Appropriations Act

Government officials are preparing a response to the conditions imposed on the Pérez Molina administration in the U.S. Appropriations Act. Pérez Molina has rejected the conditions, and blamed them on Appropriations Committee Staffer, Tim Rieser. Meanwhile, Vice President Roxana Baldetti stated that it wouldn’t be possible to compensate the communities affected by the Chixoy Dam because the government doesn’t have the resources to do so.

IACHR hears case of Florentín Gudiel Ramos

The Inter-American Court on Human Rights heard the case of Florentín Gudiel Ramos this week, charging Guatemala with failing to protect the human rights leader, who was murdered in 2004. Gudiel’s daughter Makrina, also a human rights defender, testified in the case, noting that the entire family continued to receive threats after her father’s death.

Complaint filed against Mayor of San Miguel Ixtahuacán for forced labor

On January 8, five communities brought a complaint to Guatemala’s Supreme Court against Mayor Ovidio Joel Domingo Bámaca claiming that he forced them to work for free. In 2010, the IACHR requested precautionary measures for the communities affected by the Marlin Mine, asking Guatemala to guarantee access to potable water. The plaintiffs explain, however, that as part of the plan to provide water, the Mayor required community members to work for free and cover some costs of the project. Between 2005-2013, Guatemala has received Q445.1 million in royalties from mining in San Miguel Ixtahuacán.

Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs to travel to Guatemala

The U.S. Department of State announced that William R. Brownfield will travel to Honduras and Guatemala next week. In Guatemala, he will meet with President Pérez Molina and the director of the International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG) to support strengthening Guatemala’s rule of law and combat insecurity.

Guatemala: Calling on the International Community

In the second article in the series of four, the Huffington Post outlines Guatemala’s violent past, including the 36-year civil war and the current debilitating organized crime situation in the country, despite the signing of the 1996 peace accords.