13 year old Ageo Isaac Garcia died on Tuesday after being moved to Guatemala City in critical condition. His brother, David Estudardo Pacay Maaz, died on Monday after struggling to survive for more than 72 hours. The shooting of the two boys is allegedly related to an attempt to kidnap David Chen from the community of Monte Olivo. An alleged employee of the Santa Rita Company, which wants to build a hydroelectric dam in the Dolores River, asked the children about Chen’s whereabouts. Since the children refused to tell him anything, the employee allegedly shot them.
Dinah Shelton, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for the Inter American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) visited two of the communities evicted two years ago in the Polochic Valley. Accompanying her was Kelsey Alford-Jones of GHRC who assured that her organization would monitor the handover of land to 158 families, which the Guatemalan Government has promised would be carried out on September 14th. Shelton also interviewed communities in Totonicapán, Huehuetenango and San Marcos. The IACHR will be publishing a report covering indigenous peoples in Guatemala and their struggle for land, natural resources, and consultation.
A surprise came in the Choc v. Hudbay Minerals Inc. case when the mining company opted not to appeal the Ontario Superior Court’s decision to try the case in Canada. The plaintiffs are suing over an alleged gang rape, a shooting and the killing of a community leader from El Estor. The next stage in the case will be the discovery process.
On August 27, eight community leaders of Santa Cruz Barillas went to the Tribunals Tower in an effort to close the case against them which had resulted in their eight months of illegal detention. During this visit, Rogelio Velásquez and Saúl Méndez were again detained on an arrest warrant regarding a murder from 2011. The trial for the assassination of community leader Andrés Pedro Miguel on May 1, 2012 is also coming to a close as both sides have presented witnesses this week.
Two newspaper correspondents denounced the Deputy Inspector of the National Civil Police for death threats and unjust arrest. Aroldo Marroquín and Esner Gómez Navarro were intercepted in the street and had their cameras confiscated when they took pictures of police officers. The Director of Prensa Libre condemned the explicit death threats by the police and denounced the environment of fear that oppresses journalists.
The murder of journalist Carlos Alberto Orellana Chávez, on August 19 is still unsolved and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization demands clarification, urging authorities to solve the crime and prosecute the people responsible for the murder.
The Guatemalan Association of Journalists and the Inter American News Society physical and psychological attacks on female journalists, Lucrecia Mateo and Lucero Sapulú, by unidentified aggressors. Both institutions demand that the government guarantee the safety of journalists.
According to the International Trade Union Confederation, in the past five years at least 58 union members have been killed and no one has yet been brought to justice for the crimes. President Otto Pèrez Molina promised a delegation of international trade unionists that he would speak out about the need to respect and protect the lives of union member. Public Services International urged the government to investigate the country’s high number of trade-union deaths that can be linked to government corruption, drug trafficking and the business world.
The government announced an increase in military support to civil police forces to combat delinquency and violence in Guatemala. Over the past two weeks, soldiers have been sent to three districts in the south, north and east of the country to implement a program called “Safe Municipality.” To reinforce this added security, 1,735 new officers graduated into the force on Friday and President Peréz Molina announced that by December the police force will have 30,000 agents, making it the largest in the institution’s history.
The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a UN-backed investigative team, reports that impunity in Guatemala has fallen from 93% to 70% over the past six years since the Commission began its work. President Otto Peréz Molina extended the mandate of the Commission until September 3, 2015. The United Nations will pick the next head of the CICIG. One top candidate is Iván Velásquez Gómez, who worked as a departmental attorney in Antioquia, Colombia and is known for having exposed the conditions in which the drug trafficker Pablo Escobar lived in “La Catedral,” the prison that had been built and designed to fit his needs.
In honor of International Day of the Disappeared, Guatemala remembers its history of forced disappearances and the ongoing struggle for justice.