News Update: September 7-20

Residents of San José Nacahuil say police responsible for massacre

On September 7, 11 were killed and 15 injured after gunmen opened fire at a cantina in the indigenous village of San José Nacahuil, San Pedro Ayampuc. Though officials blame the attack on gang violence, families of the victims report that police are responsible and call for officials to hold them responsible.

Analysis following this tragedy has indicated the possible connection to the peaceful non-violent resistance at “La Puya,” which community members of Nacahuil are involved in. One theory is that the massacre was carried out to justify militarizing the community and providing security to the mining project, which has been delayed for over a year because of the community’s peaceful resistance known as La Puya. Representatives of La Puya note that this event comes after their peaceful, non-violent resistance has been facing intimidation from police patrols since August 31, and that in the past events like this one have come before repressive measures against La Puya.

The Interior Minister is evaluating whether to place a police station in San José Nacahuil in the future. The police left the village around 2004 due to local sentiment that the patrol was causing more insecurity.

Former Employees of Hidro Santa Cruz Acquitted

On September 11, the courts acquitted Antonio García and Oscar Armando Ortíz, former private security guards of the company, of killing campesino Andrés Pedro Miguel. The men faced up to 52 years in prison had they been found guilty. Defense lawyers argued that the men were acting in self defense and Garcia was sentenced to only five years for the “serious wounds” inflicted on Miguel, but can pay a daily fee to avoid jail time. According to Ana Lucía Xiloj, a plantiff attorney, the attacks occurred in order to “teach the community a lesson.”

Dialogues delayed in Huehuetenango

While President Otto Pérez Molina was set to start a dialogue process regarding the Hidro Santa Cruz hydroelectric project in Santa Cruz Barillas yesterday, it has been delayed until October following community opposition. Community members protested this meeting, expressing discontent over the fact that the company would be at the table. They argue that, being an external actor, the company should not hold the same weight in negotiations as community members. The inclusion of Hidro Santa Cruz in the process legitimizes the company’s actions and the project itself, indicating once again the government’s siding with business over the demands of the community.

Genocide case will return to status as of November 2011

Judge Carol Patricia Flores Polanco, of the High Risk Court, confirmed that the status of the genocide case is now back to the proceedings prior to November 23, 2011, thereby annulling everything after that date.

President Otto Pérez Molina Orders Reparations to Cumbre de Alaska Victims

On September 10, President Pérez Molina directed the Secretariat of Peace to locate the families of the six killed and thirty-four injured from the October 4, 2012 shooting in Totonicapán. Eight soldiers and a colonel are facing charges for shooting into the crowd. Although the specifics of the proposed reparations are unknown, the “humanitarian assistance” will come from the Secretariat’s budget for Compensation of Conflicts and Promotion of Plurinationality.

Polochic Families Accept Government Land Transfer Delay

Families of the Polochic Valley have accepted the government’s delay of land transfers that were originally scheduled for September 14, but have now been moved back to October 20. Rafael Gonzalez, member of the Committee of Campesina Unity (CUC), said that “it was more prudent to wait for the improvements” and that “the government should not forget the other families and comply with precautionary measures to improve the precarious conditions of the community members.”

One thought on “News Update: September 7-20

  1. Pingback: News from Guatemala, September 2013 | EmaBee's Art

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