Weekly News Round Up Feb. 23-Mar.5

Constitutional Court upholds case closure for Efraín Bámaca’s disappearance
The Constitutional Court (CC) has confirmed the closure of the criminal case involving the forced disappearance of Efraín Bámaca. In March 2011, Bámaca’s widow, Jennifer Harbury, brought a criminal complaint against then presidential candidate Pérez Molina for his role in her husband’s disappearance and death. Bámaca (alias Comandante Everardo) disappeared in 1992. According to the military, he committed suicide, but Harbury says that he was actually detained, tortured and killed. In December 2010, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the Guatemalan government to re-investigate the case of Bámaca’s forced disappearance. Harbury’s lawyer has indicated that he will take action against Pérez Molina for not fulfilling the IACHR’s demands for a re-investigation of the case.

Constitutional Court rejects legal action filed by Toto indigenous leaders
The Constitutional Court (CC) unanimously rejected the legal action filed by the 48 cantones of Totonicapán against the Mining Law. The court’s decision called on Congress to regulate consultation with indigenous communities as established in ILO Convention number 169. The plaintiffs argue that the Mining Law was issued when there was still a right to consultation under the ILO convention and therefore the law is unconstitutional because it does not respect that right. The trial against the soldiers who fired on the group of protesters in Totonicapán last year is still ongoing. One of the defense lawyers for the accused soldiers says that he will ask for an acquittal. He says that his clients were motivated by “an overwhelming fear”, and thus they are innocent.

One year of resistance against mine in San José del Golfo
On March 3rd, more than three thousand community members celebrated the one year anniversary of their peaceful resistance to El Tambor mining project. A number of religious and cultural activities were planned to commemorate the day. Community leaders declared that the resistance to the mine will continue indefinitely. The mining project has been criticized for being a potential source of contamination and destruction of natural resources. Yolanda Oquelí, one of the leaders of the resistance movement, said that the protesters will take their complaint all the way to the headquarters of the mining company. Guatemalan Mining Explorations (Exmingua),  is a subsidiary of the American company Kappes Cassiday and Associates which is headquartered in Reno, Nevada.

Mining generates social conflict
After meeting with GHRC, Factor Méndez Doninelli explains that the current administration continues granting licenses to foreign companies for exploration and extraction, in violation of the right to a healthy and safe environment and the right to sovereignty and free will of communities.

Human Rights Ombudsman seeking investigation of 4 judges
Human Rights Ombudsman, Jorge de León Duque, has asked that the Court Monitoring Body investigate the four judges involved in the case of the nine campesinos who were captured at Santa Cruz Barillas last May. De León says that the human rights of the nine captured campesino were violated in various ways including:
There was a delay of 16 days between when they were detained and when their case was heard by a judged, the detainees were transferred to prison without an explanation of why they were detained or what crimes they had allegedly committed and the judge in Guatemala City did not provide an interpreter despite knowing that six of the detained speak only Q’anjob’al and not Spanish.

Results of referendum in San Rafael Las Flores show community’s solidarity in resistance to  mine
93.5% of adults and 100% of children voted against the presence of the mine. Hundreds of residents of San Rafael Las Flores voted in this historic referendum which provided an opportunity for the community members to have their voices heard. Several residents commented on the lack of press coverage at the event, saying that the large mining corporations had probably bribed the media to stay quiet.

Crackdown on Captain Byron Lima’s rule over prison
Byron Lima is the only person still in prison who is accused of killing Bishop Juan José Gerardi. Gerardi was bludgeoned to death in 1998 after publishing an extensive report on the military’s role in the civilian deaths and massacres that took place in Guatemala during the internal armed conflict. Since he was found guilty in 2006, Lima has been running the prisons from the inside and has been given free reign to do as he likes. On Friday night, as he was returning from a day away from the prison, Byron was detained and charged with misconduct. The guards at the prison where he is being held were also detained, and the prison director was fired. The story of Byron’s detention serves to highlight the corruption of the Guatemalan criminal justice system.

Indigenous land rights activist Lolita Chávez begins Canadian speaking tour this week
Lolita Chávez is an indigenous activist and human rights defender who will discuss the struggles faced by her community in an upcoming tour in Canada and the U.S. The Canadian portion of her tour kicks off March 5th in Ottowa. GHRC will be hosting her from March 25th-31st. Please visit our website for more information on Lolita’s speaking events in the D.C. area.

Day of Dignity for the victims of the armed conflict
Thousands of survivors celebrated the Day of Dignity for the Victims of the Internal Armed Conflict throughout Guatemala on February 27th.

2 thoughts on “Weekly News Round Up Feb. 23-Mar.5

  1. Pingback: Community in Resistance San Jose del Golfo | Edgy Amelia

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