Weekly News Roundup September 15-27

Guatemalan Government and Mining Company Attack Community Members in San Rafael Las Flores
A number of national and international human rights organizations, including the Committee in Defence of Life and Against Mining in San Rafael Las Flores, CODIDENA, the Parlamento Xinca, CALAS and the MadreSelva Environmental Collective, have denounced the repression of the nonviolent protest by the community of Santa Rosa. Organizations have requested a thorough investigation of the incident, which occurred in late September. Accounts of the event claim that it was a peaceful protest, and the local citizens never entered the mine site property. Community members were attacked and evicted by private security guards and national police forces using rubber bullets and tear gas; soldiers were present as well, standing inside the mining company fences. Now, there are at least 30 community members detained.

The Case of a Leader in the Santa Cruz Barillas Case to be Reviewed Before Arbitrary Detention Commission
A specialized commission of the United Nations will review the case of Pedro Vicente Núñez Bautista, one of the nine leaders imprisoned following the May 1st protests in Santa Cruz Barillas. Carlos Bezares, one of the lawyers on the case, suggests that the release of Marcos Mateo Miguel shows that there is no evidence against the leaders.

Victim of Guatemalan massacre granted asylum in U.S.
One of two known survivors of a notorious Guatemalan massacre of 250 men, women, and children in the  community of Dos Erres has been granted political asylum. Oscar Ramiriz Casteneda, 33, received the letter granting him asylum just one day after Jorge Sosa, a former Guatemalan army commando accused of taking part in the massacre, was extradited to the United States from Canada to face immigration fraud charges. Casteneda was assisting prosecutors in the case against Sosa and other members of a Guatemalan special forces unit known as the “Kaibiles” accused of taking part in the horrific events at Dos Erres.

Barillas Case: Court Reverses Ten Arrest Warrants
The Criminal Court of First Instance in Santa Eulalia has annulled the arrest warrants against 10 of the 33 alleged to have burned machinery of the Spanish company Hidro Santa Cruz. The Public Prosecutor’s office alerted the court of an error in the process: the Prosecutor, Gilda Aguilar, who ordered the detention of the suspects was not the proprietor of the case. Additionally, Aguilar has been accused of soliciting the arrests on the basis of a testimony obtained illegally.

Indigenous Groups Demand a Decision in Unconstitutionality Case of the Mining Law
Once more the members of the Council of Western Peoples came together at the gates of the Constitutional Court and demanded the judges rule in the case against the mining law filed in May of this year. The communities filed an unconstitutionality claim before the Court stating that the mining law had been passed without the consultation and consent of the indigenous communities it would affect, and that it denied the right of indigenous peoples to prior, informed and free consultation established in the 169th Convention of the ILO.

Q’eqchi Women Testify on Sexual Slaves Case
Four Q’eqchi women have given their testimonies, telling the stories of how their families were starved and killed and how they were held hostage and were forced to be sexual slaves during the armed conflict between 1982 and 1988. The four women, the first out of a group of 15, have testified to the sexual abuses they suffered at the hands of Guatemalan soldiers.

Q&A: Guatemala’s Bold Attorney General Makes a Dent in Impunity
Guatemala’s Attorney General is being commended for her work since 2010. Forbes has named her as one of the “most powerful women changing the world in politics and public policy.” And the March issues of Newsweek named her one of the 150 most fearless women in the world. The interview describes her restructuring of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, as well as her expectations for the Ríos Montt case.


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