Guatemala News Update: September 1-5

AP: Guatemala Bishop’s Killer Ran Alleged Jail Empire

Former Guatemalan Army Captain Byron Lima Oliva, originally sentenced to 20 years in jail for the 1998 murder of Bishop Gerardi, is facing new charges of organized crime and money laundering. Prosecutors allege that Lima built an “illicit prison empire,” extorting money from inmates and officials in return for favors. National prison system director Sergio Camargo also faces charges, and allegedly received money from Lima.

The hearing of first statements from Lima and 13 others who are being accused, originally slated for Friday, September 5, was rescheduled by Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez over health concerns.

Telesur: US Court Sets Precedent by Ruling Guatemalan Domestic Violence Victim Can Seek Asylum

This week, the top US immigration court ruled that women fleeing situations of domestic violence can legally seek asylum in the United States.

KEY QUOTE: “‘This decision shines a light on the extreme gender-based violence which exists in Guatemala, and the same is true of El Salvador and Honduras – and many of those in the recent ‘surge’ should benefit from this ruling,’ said Musalo, a legal adviser who helped advance this historic case.”

Newsweek: Dubbed Terrorists, Mayans Fight Back Against Guatemalan Mining Projects

This article provides an overview of several indigenous resistance movements to mega-projects throughout Guatemala, as well as the repression and criminalization these movements are facing.

KEY QUOTE: “In theory, their communal right to land is enshrined in law; according to International Labour Organisation standards, these communities need to give free, prior and informed consent for any mining project that conflicts with those claims. In practice, a complicated system of land titling, and the constant re-evaluation of boundaries by local and national governments has created a vacuum of human and property rights.”

Telesur: Guatemala Strikes Down ‘Monsanto Law’

This week, Guatemala’s Congress, responding to pressure and public protests from groups across the country, voted to repeal the so-called ‘Monsanto Law’ — a seed-privatization provision in the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) with the US. Residents worry that the law would monopolize agricultural production and threaten food sovereignty. It remains unclear how the decision will ultimately affect Guatemala’s inclusion in CAFTA-DR.

Guatemala News Update: August 3-8

Preliminary hearing against Judge Yassmín Barrios begins

The Liga Pro Patria (League for the Nation) presented a preliminary hearing against Judge Yassmín Barrios for the crimes of breach of duties, coercion, and the right of the accused to counsel. The charges are in reference to actions taken by Judge Barrios during the genocide trial.

US and Guatemala officially form Bilateral Working Group

The Pentagon proposed the creation of a Defense Bilateral Working Group between Guatemala and the US. Julio Ligorría, Guatemala’s ambassador to the United States, attributed US interest in this working group to a high level of confidence in the Guatemalan army. The formation of a Bilateral Working Group on Matters of Defense was ratified by Guatemala’s Minister of Defense, General Manuel López Ambrosio, and only five other Latin American countries who are considered strategic military allies to the US (Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, and Peru) have similar working groups. Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: July 28-August 1

Another threat to the peaceful resistance of La Puya

At 2 a.m. on July 31 in San José del Golfo, employees of Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA) and Mining Explorations of Guatemala (EXMINGUA) tried to enter the El Tambor mining site, destroying spaces the San José del Golfo community had been using for cooking, meetings, and celebrations in the process. The workers were trying to move three vans and heavy equipment used for washing minerals onto the site, and at 8:24 am were joined by 200 police officers who threatened the residents of San José del Golfo with eviction if they did not allow the workers to enter the site. The peaceful resistance of La Puya eventually withdrew without using force around 11 a.m. and let the machinery pass onto the site to avoid violence.

Guatemalan Court rules in favor of Sipacapa residents against Goldcorp subsidiary

On March 24 the Mayan Council of Sipacapa demanded that the “Los Chocoyos” mining permit, which was granted to the Goldcorp Inc. subsidiary Entre Mares de Guatemala S.A. by the General Director of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, be canceled. Last Friday, July 18, a Guatemalan court ruled in favor of the residents of Sipacapa and declared that the Guatemalan government must consult with the local population before granting any kind of mining permits, in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and ILO 169. Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: July 21-25

President Molina comes to the US

On Friday, July 25, the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador met with President Obama to discuss the child migrant crisis.

In related news, President Pérez Molina recommended during an interview with the Washington Post that the US give 10% of the $20 billion currently allocated towards border security and processing to Central American countries in order to “attack the root of the [migration] problem.” In previous statements President Molina said this money can go towards fighting organized crime and violence in the countries. In the interview the President also suggested that US foreign policy has played a role in Guatemalan suffering in reference to the connection between the internal armed conflict and the Cold War.

The OAS issues declaration on child migrants

The Organization of American States adopted a declaration regarding unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. The declaration, which was prepared by representatives from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, expresses, “solidarity with the governments of the region, so that the problem of unaccompanied migration of children is addressed from a humanitarian perspective that ensures the well being and respectful treatment of the children and that allows for family reunification where appropriate.” 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.

Continue reading

GHRC and Partners Rally to Protect Central American Children

Gallery

This gallery contains 11 photos.

On July 25 in front of the White House, GHRC in conjunction with CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador), School of the Americas Watch, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, and CARECEN (Central American Resource Center) hosted a … Continue reading