Weekly News Roundup Sept 28-Oct 4

Guatemalan President argues drug legalization and calls out US anti-drug effort
In a one-on-one interview with Fox News Latino, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina defended the legalization of drugs as part of his new approach to fighting drug-trafficking, while also claiming that US methods of combating the drug trade are not working. At the same time, the President has touted US support as necessary in the fight, and believes that the US should give more money and arms to the effort. In the same interview, Perez Molina, who has been accused of involvement in human rights abuses during the early 1980s in a region that saw 2,744 people killed in the span of one year, denied the accusations against him, claiming them to be “not credible.”

Ex-Guatemalan Commander Ordered to Stand Trial in U.S.
Former Guatemalan army commander, Jorge Sosa is being tried in the US on charges he lied about his past in an effort to be granted U.S. citizenship. An alleged commanding officer during the Dos Erres massacre, Sosa could be extradited to Guatemala on charges related to the massacre following his sentence in the US.

Indigenous women in defense of water, life, and territory in Guatemala
“In the struggle to defend our territory, our natural resources, what’s at stake is our very existence,” says Miriam Pixtun, Indigenous Women’s Movement. Guatemala’s policy of extraction of natural resources fomented by the current development model and by transnational corporations has a tremendous impact on the life of the communities, particularly on indigenous peoples and women. With the aim of sharing experiences and analysis among women who lead in defense of rights to land, territory and natural resources in Guatemala, Just Associates (JASS), Unit of Guatemala Human Rights Defenders, Association for Feminist Studies (AMEF), and the National Union of Guatemalan Women (UNAMG) held the national meeting “Women in Defense of Water, Life, and Territory” on September 11-12. The forum enabled indigenous women to talk about experiences of resistance as well as the acts they carry out in their communities and in their daily lives.

Victims of Guatemala’s internal armed conflict demand advances in trials against military
Victims of Guatemala’s internal armed conflict (1960-1996) marched in the capital Wednesday September 26th to demand that the trials advance against high ranking members of the military accused of committing genocide during the conflict. The march, which covered the historic center of the city, began at the Constitutional Court–the highest tribunal in Guatemala–and ended at the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman. Hector Reyes, one of the lawyers assisting the victims, has told the press that some retired generals, among them ex-dictator Rios Montt (1982-1983), are pursuing legal recourse to prevent their cases from even being processed.

Judge hears testimony of torture victims
On Friday September 28th, Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez heard testimony from five campesinos that were tortured by the Guatemalan Military during the internal armed conflict. Also the testimony of 15 woman of the q’eqchí’ region, who were held as sexual slaves between 1982 and 1988 ended Thursday. The names of the women and torture victims will be withheld by the judge and the Public Prosecutors Office for their safety. The Human Rights Division of the Public Prosecutors Office looks to ensure that a few of the women do not return to their communities, as their aggressors are suspected to live there.

Across Latin America, quest for gold brings riches, conflict
Even as mining brings a flood of foreign investment to the nation and wealth for some, the industry also opens up veins of social discontent. Affected communities are often highly in opposition to mining efforts, which can lead to water pollution, land grabs, and environmental devastation. Particularly in Guatemala, home of the giant Marlin gold mine, the anti-mining struggle has led to violence and human rights abuses. Mam-speaking Mayans living near the Marlin mine say Goldcorp has brought health, environmental and human rights woes. Acting on behalf of 18 villages around the mine, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights asked in 2010 for Guatemala to suspend mine operations but neither the state nor Goldcorp complied.

Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico request international anti-drug conference
In an official declaration, the governments of Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico asked Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, to call an international conference to “make decisions” about the current global anti-drug strategy, in force since 1961. One of the actions particularly included in the Guatemalan proposal to revise the global anti-drug policy is “selective incarceration,” which involves revising the capture of all dealers and consumers according to the classification of the substance involved, and modifying the sanctions to suit each case in a kind of graduated response strategy.

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