News Update: July 2-July 10

Lawyers in Genocide Trial ask the Constitutional Court to make a decision and allow case to move forward

Both the prosecution and the defense asked the Constitutional Court to make a decision regarding the defense’s appeal about the decision issued by the Appeals Court on May 6th.  to reinstate Defense Attorney Francisco García Gudiel.

Hunger in the Polochic Valley

Representatives from the 14 indigenous communities that had been evicted from their homes in March of 2011 reported that among the  community members, 6 out of 10 children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition, and two out of every 100 adults suffers from acute malnutrition.  Additionally, more than half of the population does not have access to health services. This data was gathered by the Ixim Rural Studies Collective, which also reported economic and social rights violations. President Otto Pérez Molina made a commitment that the 800 families that were displaced would receive land. He claimed that the first group of 300 families will receive their land by September 15th.

Three anti-mining activists arrested in San Juan Sacatepequez

The twelve communities in organized resistence to the cement plant and mine have denounced the arrest of three community leaders days after 12,000 people marched against Cementos Progreso. The three leaders were charged with illicit association.

Two-year moratorium for mining licenses

President Otto Pérez Molina announced that he, along with the Minister of Energy and Mines and the Secretary General, will present to Congress an initiative for a 2-year moratorium on issuing licenses for metal mining.  After declaring the moratorium, Congress should meet with all sectors to discuss the law on the mining of metals.  However, Tahoe, one of the mining companies, does not believe the moratorium will affect their progress.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines calls for bids on seven petroleum sites

The sites are located in Petén, Quiché, Huehuetenango, Izabal and Alta Verapaz. Environmental organizations have expressed concern because two of the seven locations are in protected areas.

Racism and discrimination still exist towards indigenous people

At one month from the International Day of Indigenous People, indigenous people still make up 58% of people in poverty and 72% of people in extreme poverty.  The racism and discrimination that has historically surrounded indigenous communities has not diminished.

Femicide rate increases in Guatemala 

The National Institute of Forensic Science has reported that femicide rates increased 19.28% during the first six months of this year in comparison to the same period of 2012.

The Interior Ministry raises the cap on Arms Budget

The Interior Ministry announced plans to purchase 45,396 new weapons in 3 years. The government states that calling for bids will prolong the purchase and therefore it will purchase directly from wholesalers. As of now, 4,000 members of the National Police Force do not have weapons. Siglo 21 reports concerns about the arms budget for 2013.

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