News Update: October 5-11

Dialogue ends without results

The dialogue between the government and six communities in Northern Huehuetenango did not result in visible progress this week. Among other requests, community members asked for the suspension of three hydroelectric dams; the promotion of a community referendum; and the revocation of 24 arrest warrants against community leaders. The dialogue ended with an agreement to forgo violent protests and draw a road map that will lead to a positive outcome.

Eight arrested for Nacahuil massacre belong to Mara 18

Eight supposed members of the Mara 18 gang were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly carrying out the Nacahuil massacre on September 8. Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz said that the supposed motive of the massacre, which killed 11 people, was the liquor store owners’ refusal to pay extortion money to a group of gang members. She also stated that the attack was ordered from inside a prison. Interior Minister López Bonilla stated that minutes before the massacre, the Civil National Police were tipped off to a potential attack there. Widows of the massacre continue to reject the alleged gang role in Nacahuil and still believe that the Civil National Police were involved in the night’s events.

Attorney General Paz y Paz nominated for Nobel Prize

Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Kristian Berg, who heads the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, said that one of the reasons why Paz y Paz was selected as a candidate was because of her efforts in bringing former dictator Efraín Rios Montt to trial for genocide. Franciso Palomo, Rios Montt’s lawyer, called the candidacy propaganda and stated that the trial has done nothing but bring the country closer to a civil war.

United States donates 6 helicopters to fight organized crime

The US donated six helicopters, eight armored vehicles, aeronautics, infrastructure and communications equipment, estimated to be worth $40 million, to the Guatemalan government to support the fight against organized crime. President Pérez Molina stated that the donation is proof of the trust between the two governments. Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla stated that the equipment will be used to capture and detain drug dealers that have national and international arrest warrants, and to dismantle gangs of kidnappers and hit men and eradicate illegal crops related to drugs.

Criticism leveled against Interior Minister

In an opinion piece, Martín Rodríguez Pellecer highlights the failures of Minister Lopez Bonilla, including his military strategy for citizen security, criminalization of social protest against extraction projects, and most recently, his condemnation of foreigners supporting social movements.

Members of the Ixil community oppose the construction of hydroelectric plants

Residents of Chajul, Cotzal and Nebaj in Quiché are demanding the withdrawal of companies dedicated to the construction of hydroelectric plants in their territory. Miguel de León Zeto, the indigenous mayor, stated that these companies’ licenses were granted without the consent of the communities. He expressed his concern about the future construction of the hydroelectric plant, Hidroxacbal Delta, which will damage the road used by 14 communities, including those in the town of Chajul and Nebaj.


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