Weekly News Roundup

August 10-August 16
  • Coban residents protest hydroelectric dam, evictions. On August 8th and 9th, residents of the community Monte Olivo, near Coban, Alta Verapaz, carried out protests against conflicts in the area. On the 9th, they concentrated their efforts near the airport of the municipal seat of Coban, giving a document to mayor Leonel Arturo Chacón that contained denouncements by the communities of Tezulutlán Q’eqchi’, Poqomchi’ y Achi’, and Oxlaju Kame.
  • Mining rejection marks International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. In celebration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9th, indigenous groups denounced racism and discrimination on the part of the government in the distribution of funds in the budget. They consider indigenous peoples to be the least represented in economics, politics, and decision-making in the country. The Center for Human Rights Legal Actions pointed out that in the past couple of years, 250 conflicts have resulted from mining and development projects around the country. In addition, multiple communities came together in San Jose del Golfo to discuss the problems they are facing, where mining controversies stood out.
  • Campesino leader, involved in recent protests, assassinated. Héctor Girón, a leader of the Committee for Campesino Development (Codeca), was ambushed and shot by two men on August 10th, on a road near Teculatán, Zacapa. In a statement, Codeca said that Girón was involved in the roadblocks carried out on Wednesday, August 8th, to demand that the government attend to the needs of the rural population and put an end to repression of activists. The National Coordinating Committee of NGOs and Cooperatives met on Friday to urge the authorities to clear up the crime.
  • Xinca leader assassinated. Rubén Darío López was killed in his home in Jutiapa on August 12th, according to his wife, who was also home at the time. López had previously been the director of the Xinca Community of Jutiapa and was also on the list of candidates for the municipal council of Jutiapa, but relatives reported that he had not received any threats of death or violence and that they did not know the reasons behind the assassination.
  • Community members vacate housing under judicial order. Residents of Guatemala City had been living in a settlement named Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán since January 13th, on the outskirts of the Matamoros military headquarters. On August 13th, more than 200 families vacated the area peacefully following a judicial order, although they had previously submitted a request to the Ministry of Defense in April to be allowed to remain. Before deciding to leave the area, residents had formed a human chain in protest, asking for support from the authorities in their struggle to find a place to build their homes. Many of the families relocated to the side of the highway on the same property. On August 15th, the police removed the families once again, which led to a violent confrontation in which one police officer and three others were injured.
  • Judicial Branch inaugurates special tribunal on femicide. The president of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Judicial Branch, Thelma Esperanza Aldana Hernández, inaugurated both a court of first instance and a trial court in Alta Verapaz on August 13th. The courts will operate with five judges and a budget of Q5 million per year, in addition to personnel who speak Q’eqchi; 89% of the department’s population belongs to the Q’eqchi community. The inauguration of the courts follows Agreement 12-2012, signed in March of this year during the celebration of International Women’s Day, which approved their creation.

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