News Roundup

    • Member of K’iche’s People’s Council murdered. José Tavico Tzunun was assassinated by two heavily armed men in his home on the evening of June 12th. As a delegate to the council, he helped to organize community meetings on the effects of megaprojects and transnational corporations. Other delegates reported that he had received death  threats in the week prior to his death.
    • Inter-American Court on Human Rights hears testimonies of Río Negro survivors. The hearing, including testimonies from six survivors of the 1982 massacres, took place on June 19th and 20th. Juan de Dios García, the president of the Association for the Integral Development of the Victims of Violence in the Verapaces, Maya Achí (Adivima), explained that the decision to take the case to the IACHR was due to difficulties obtaining justice in a national setting. However, on June 21st, Peace Secretary Alfonso Arenales denied that genocide had taken place in Guatemala and asked the court to declare itself unqualified to try the case.
    • Jorge De León Duque elected new Human Rights Ombudsman. Before the voting began, Congress applauded De León Duque, who is a current Congressman for the Commitment, Renewal, and Order (CREO) party, for announcing that he would not be participating in the voting process to “guarantee transparency.” After learning of his victory, De León Duque resigned from his position as deputy, and alternate Miriam Pineda Chinchilla was immediately called to fill his position. However, once sworn in, she decided to join the Renewed Democratic Liberty party (Líder) party despite assuring the public on May 23 that she would not switch parties if called to fill De León Duque’s seat. Only six representatives, all of them from Líder, voted against De León Duque.
    • Government responds to campesino demands. The government responded by email to a list of eight demands presented by the Marcha Indígena. Among the responses were the commitment to not install new military bases in areas where the population, along with the authorities, do not want them; a reduction of the agrarian debt; and a commitment to look over mining laws. Aparicio Pérez Guzmán, a leader of the Marcha Indígena, expressed his concerns that the response was communicated by email, given that many participants in the movement do not have access to internet and distributing the message will take more time. Leaders of the organization reported that they will present a counterproposal to the government.
    • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights commends Guatemala on fight against impunity. Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, referenced her March visit to the country in a speech to the committee. Specifically, Pillay made note of the cases against genocide and the case condemning five ex-military officers in the Dos Erres massacre, although she also spoke of the need for continued efforts to fight human rights injustice in Central America.
    • Environmental organizations and Community Development Councils reject mining exploration. The organizations from San Juan Bosco y Casillas, Santa Rosa, rejected a mining license granted to the San Rafael mine to extend exploration for deposits of gold, silver, nickel, cobalt, and other materials in the community. According to the organizations, the license is not in accordance with community consultations that resulted in a rejection of mining exploration by 98.98 percent of the population.

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