Guatemala News Update: May 26-30

New mining equipment arrives at La Puya amid calls for dialogue

After the violent removal of protesters by police last Friday, May 23, new mining equipment has been brought into the site of the El Tambor mining project. On Saturday, protesters from the peaceful resistance of La Puya regrouped near their original position and a mass was held on Sunday to pray for those injured in the eviction. Photos of the eviction and march in solidarity with the movement can be found here.

Archbishop Óscar Vian deplored the absence of real dialogue regarding
mining and energy projects and called for the government to stop approving
projects before entering into the dialogue process with communities.

GHRC Executive Director Kelsey Alford-Jones was quoted in an article about the non-violent resistance at La Puya. Government officials have equated leaders of the resistance with criminals and terrorists, which Alford-Jones points out is reestablishing the “idea of the internal enemy” that was so present during the internal armed conflict.

Pending the investigation of their cases, a judge ordered the house arrest of four community leaders from La Puya who have been active in the peaceful resistance movement against the El Tambor mining project. The four community leaders, who have been accused of illegally detaining and threatening four mining workers from El Tambor in 2012, are scheduled to stand trial August 18th. The judge dismissed the case against a fifth leader of the peaceful resistance movement, Yolanda Oquelí, on the grounds of lack of evidence.

Chixoy dam protesters take to the Presidential House

Protesters gathered on Friday in front of the Presidential House in disapproval of the government’s failure to sign a 2010 agreement that would grant reparations to the people affected by the Chixoy dam. President Molina denied compensation to victims on the claim that such payment would have to be authorized by Congress. According to Prensa Libre, those affected by the dam will reject any measure that does not comply with the 2010 plan and are considering asking countries to limit aid to Guatemala until the 2010 plan is carried out. The construction of the Chixoy dam has harmed 33 communities.

A meeting between the communities and the government has been scheduled for Monday, June 2. Photos of the protest can be found here.

Government to cooperate with Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Guatemalan government announced that it will respond to the decisions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding the mines that would affect the communities of Sipacapa and San Miguel Ixtahuacán, San Marcos. There are currently 79 petitions pending at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding Guatemala.

Concerns about new Attorney General Thelma Aldana continue

Many continue to fear that the strong prosecution of human rights violations, corruption and organized crime that occurred under former Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz will give way to a focus on minor offenses and street crime under new Attorney General Thelma Aldana. In addition, the discovery of Aldana’s close affiliation with the political party Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG), which is run by Ríos Montt’s daughter, is raising concerns that efforts to convict Montt for crimes of genocide will come to an end.

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