Guatemala News Update: February 10-14

Representatives from international organizations (including GHRC Executive Director Kelsey Alford-Jones, second from right) express concerns about the reduction of Attorney General Paz y Paz's term at a press conference in Guatemala City.

Representatives from international organizations (including GHRC Executive Director Kelsey Alford-Jones, second from right) express concerns about the reduction of Attorney General Paz y Paz’s term at a press conference in Guatemala City.

GHRC and other international organizations call for transparency in election of new attorney general

On Wednesday, GHRC and other international organizations called for transparency in the election of a new attorney general, after the ruling that Claudia Paz y Paz will end her term this May. The organizations’ spokespeople stated that transparency in this process will help ensure that the right person gets the job. GHRC Executive Director Kelsey Alford-Jones noted that the process should include people from all sectors of society. Read our blog about the press conference for more information.

Assistant Secretary Brownfield visits Guatemala

The Assistant Secretary of State for International Issues on Drugs and Security met with top officials including Iván Velázquez, head of CICIG, on Monday. Brownfield announced that the U.S. will give 5 to 10 million dollars to fight drug trafficking and that the countries will work together under the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). He affirmed that the U.S. and Guatemala are “partners,” despite recent controversial events including the conditions imposed by the U.S. Appropriations Act and the shortening of Paz y Paz’s term in office.

Pérez Molina administration continues to protest against Appropriations Act

In statements released this week, President Otto Pérez Molina criticized a US Congressional Staffer for poorly and incorrectly advising members of congress regarding the conditions imposed on the Guatemalan government under the U.S. Appropriations Act. Despite the statements against the staffer, the government expressed gratitude for the financial assistance that the U.S. continues to provide for the spread of democracy.

Senator Leahy responded to the attack on his staff calling the declarations misinformed and imprecise. He also pointed out that his committee approved close to $100 million in funds to Guatemala, and encouraged the Guatemalan Government to implement the reparations plan for the communities affected by the Chixoy Dam.

Earlier this week, Vice President Roxana Baldetti announced that land confiscated from drug traffickers would not be used to compensate Chixoy victims, as originally stated.

Miami Herald: Deep concern over ruling to shorten Paz y Paz’s term

Officials from the U.S. Department of State and the UN’s Anti-Impunity Commission in Guatemala (CICIG) expressed concern for the court’s ruling to end Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz’s term in May of this year instead of December. The decision could have serious drawbacks for strides in human rights.

Despite reservations expressed by many members, and, protests from human rights groups, the Guatemalan Congress voted to form the commission to choose the next attorney general.

“Fighting for Human Rights”

In part three of a four-part series on Guatemala, the Huffington Post details the work of Freddy Peccerelli, a Guatemalan anthropologist in New York, who is committed to uncovering the atrocities of massacres during the 36-year civil war. The article mentions human rights defenders who were assassinated for their work, and non-profit organizations that fight for the cause, including GHRC.

Ex-soldier gets ten years for lying on U.S. immigration forms

Jorge Sosa, a former Guatemalan soldier, was sentenced to ten years in prison for lying on U.S. immigration forms about his role in the 1982 Dos Erres massacre and other war crimes. A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer testified that Sosa never would have received residence or citizenship in the U.S. if he had disclosed the truth.

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