Weekly News Round-Up

National News

  • Transparency International reports Guatemala’s score has fallen from 3.2 to 2.7 out of 10 for public’s perception of transparency within government for 2011.  The country is now ranked 120 out of 182 countries, only above Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic within Latin America.
  • The U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala, Arnold Chacon, commented Tuesday that the U.S. would guarantee the safety and security of Alfonso Portillo through the extradition process, but reminded Guatemalan authorities that his transfer is their responsibility.  Chacon also hailed the recent successful captures of narco-traffickers by Guatemalan authorities, mentioning U.S. involvement in the operations and his support for the continuation of such activities.  The new ambassador commented that it would be ideal to approve the implementation of a C4I system in Guatemala to prevent the flow of narco-trafficking.  Chacon met with Otto Perez Molina Wednesday.
  • Yuri Melini, environmental activist and director Center of Legal, Environmental and Social Action (CALAS), announced that, during this past presidential term, human rights violations against environmentalists increased by 12%.  A report released by CALAS documents 96 total cases of attacks, threats, assassinations, injuries, defamation, illegal detention and unlawful searches.  Melini argued that actions against environmentalists frequently go unreported or underreported.
  • The Public Prosecutor’s office announced the creation of an agency to investigate crimes committed by “non-state armed groups” during the armed conflict as part of the Special Cases Unit for Human Rights.
  • Groups such as the Association of Military Widows (Asomilgua) continue to carryout out public attacks against Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, demanding investigation of 36 supposed guerilla members, which include her aunt, Laura Paz y Paz, and her deceased father, Enrique Paz y Paz.  The supposed guerrilla members are being accused as the intellectual authors and directors of more than 45 acts of violence committed between 1978 and 1982.
  • Through a poignant case-study of the San Jose Calderas community in Guatemala, Plaza Publica analyzes the factors pushing and pulling migrants to the United States, the failures of the Guatemalan government to provide adequate support, and how the migrant flow has impacted the local economy.
  • 800 families from 14 different communities remain displaced in the Polochic Valley after the violent evictions carried out by the sugar cane company Chabil Utzaj last year.  Communities whose land was taken and crops destroyed have now reached a level of starvation and desperation. Now community members find themselves insulted and infuriated by the State’s meager food distribution which comes 6 months after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights called for measures to ensure food, health, housing, and security for the 800 families.  The food delivered by the State is barely enough to last 2-3 days for the average family.  The community believes that if such trends are a signal of a return to the violent, abusive past, they will not hesitate to take up arms to defend themselves and their land.

International News

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