Guatemala News Update: January 27-31

The World Bank building

The World Bank building. Photo courtesy of the World Bank photo collection.

Washington Post: U.S. Pushes for Outside Oversight of World Bank, Opposes Push Toward ‘Big Hydro’

The 2014 U.S. Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which the U.S. Congress passed this month, continues to receive media attention this week. The Bill instructs the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (which co-funded construction of the Chixoy Dam in Guatemala) to support the implementation of reparations for the affected Mayan communities.

Some in Guatemala expressed concern that the conditions would affect foreign investment; others have argued that compensating the Chixoy victims reduces the negative perception that indigenous communities have regarding hydroelectric dam projects. For affected communities, however, the Bill provides an important mechanism through which to pressure the Guatemalan government and the banks to follow through with their obligation to provide reparations to those affected by the dam. The story has received international attention, and was featured in the The Guardian.

The Bill further requires the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to certify the Guatemalan government has met a series of human rights conditions before the Guatemalan army will be allowed to receive DOS funds.

NOW Toronto: Concerns About Canadian Mining in Guatemala

Canadian organizations are working to raise awareness about the effects of Canadian mining companies in Guatemala, including calling for federal legislation to hold companies accountable when they commit human rights or environmental abuses internationally.

A similar article, which references GHRC, highlights human rights defenders and communities involved in peaceful resistance movements to Canadian extractive industry projects across Guatemala.

Prensa Latina: At Least 254 Murdered in Guatemala in First 20 Days of 2014

The National Institute of Forensic Science (Inacif) reported at least 254 murders in Guatemala thus far in 2014. In 2013, there were 47 more violent deaths than in 2012 and generalized crime and impunity continue to be a debilitating national problems.

Huffington Post: Guatemala: The Quest for Justice

This article outlines Guatemala’s violent past, including the 36-year internal conflict, the ongoing trial of Efraín Ríos Montt, and the current situation of debilitating organized crime in the country. The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, known by its Spanish acronym, CICIG, was created in response to these crimes and has a lot of work to do in combating the current conflict. This article is the first in a series of four.

BBC News: Drug Trafficking Is Speeding Deforestation in Central America

The environmental effects of drug trafficking are real and are taking a toll on Guatemala and its neighboring countries, according to a new report in the journal, Science. According to the article, “attempts by the authorities to declare a ‘war on drugs’ have merely pushed traffickers into other remote areas, exacerbating pressures on vulnerable and ecologically important forests.”

GHRC and partners in the Mesoamerican Working Group also recently published a report on the drug war, focusing on the human rights impacts of the militarized approach to fighting crime.

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