Weekly News Roundup

July 13 – July 20

  • Byron Estrada released from prison On Friday July 13th a judge determined that Byron Estrada, convicted of the assassination of Bishop Juan José Gerardi in 1998, had fulfilled half his sentence and had shown good conduct as well as studied and worked during his time in prison. As a result he was released from prison. The Public Prosecutor’s Office renounced its right to appeal the decision.
  • Experts issue report on violence in Guatemala Experts from the Resource Center for the Analysis of the Conflict (CERAC) said Friday that while the militarization of Guatemala to enforce the so called “mano dura” (iron fist policy) to fight cartels and violence is valid, the measure has to be temporary in order to guarantee human rights in the country. Jorge Restrepo, one of the analysts from CERAC, said that a prolonged militarization can damage both the image of the institution and society itself.
  • Goldcorp declared guilty by The People’s International Health Tribunal The People’s International Health Tribunal was established by community members in San Miguel to analyze the impact of the Marlin Mine in Guatemala, the Filos Mine in Mexico and the Siria Valley Mine in Honduras. Goldcorp, the Canadian mining company that operates the mines, was declared responsible for affecting communities in all three countries with its excavations. The judges unanimously decided that Goldcorp was violating human rights in the community where it is operating.
  • The continuous presence of members of the Guatemalan Army worries communities in Cuarto Pueblo in the Ixcan Province The brigade was established on Wednesday June 11th. Since then the army has barged into the public school, paralyzing academic activities and has interrogated members of the community on the activity of community leaders and organizations. In March1982, the army carried out one of the single most violent massacres of the internal armed conflict in Cuarto Pueblo. Since then community members have opposed militarization. Roni Urizar, army spokesperson, stated that the army is only undertaking socialization activities in cooperation with local authorities.
  • San Miguel Ixtahuacán receives compensation from Goldcorp The community received Q33.5 million in voluntary pay from the mining company, in addition to an obligatory Q11.1 million already paid to the state, as part of the revenues of the Marlin Mine. Joel Domingo Bámaca, the mayor of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, said that the money will be used to invest in health, education, and infrastructure.
  • López Fuentes’ defense presents counter-suit against Claudia Paz y Paz Moisés Galindo, the defense lawyer for the retired general López Fuentes, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, presented a counter-suit against Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz. The defense asked Paz y Paz to remove herself from the case against López Fuentes, after her statement affirming that genocide was committed in the country.
  • Report on mining injustices across Guatemala Rights Action recently led a group of Canadian and American citizens on a trip throughout the country, in which they visited a number of communities currently involved in resistance to mining projects. The visits included communities fighting against Goldcorp, Radius Gold, and Hudbay Minerals where community members testified to the protests, attacks and the threats the mining projects pose.
  • Two reports released on Violence Against Women in Guatemala The Guatemalan Women’s Group (GGM) presented the report  on the status of violence against women in the country. The report focuses on the attacks on women, the support groups and the aid provided to victims of violence. Additionally The Mutual Support Group (GAM) released a report which estimates that almost 86% of the victims of domestic violence are women. The report stated that 3,167 women have been killed in the past four years as a result of violent attacks. Mario Polanco, GAM’s director, said that only 2% of the cases have been investigated. The report also points out that the government of Guatemala only spends .07% of it’s budget on projects designed to prevent domestic violence.

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