Guatemala News Update July 14-18

National Guardsmen may be sent to assist Border Patrol

President Obama has been asked to authorize the deployment of at least 1,000 members of the National Guard with access to drones, helicopters, and night vision to help Border Patrol agents deter migration. According to Prensa Libre, Obama has said that he would be willing to deploy the guardsmen as a temporary measure, provided there is room in the budget.

The OAS condemns suggested accelerated deportation of child migrants

General Secretary of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, criticizes the notion that child migrants are a threat to US security and demands that their rights be respected. He elaborates by emphasizing that international standards say children have the right to an immigration interview, must receive humane treatment, and be given shelter.

Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office investigates protocol for receiving children returning to Guatemala

In response to claims by different migrant organizations that Guatemala does not have the necessary conditions to care for children who are deported from Mexico or the US, the Human Rights Ombudsman was present at La Aurora International Airport to observe how Guatemalan authorities are treating children upon their return to Guatemala. It was found that the appropriate protocols have been established for minors who are reentering the country and they are being moved to shelters that are well-maintained.

Two new shelters were recently opened in Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango. Guardians of the children are to pick them up within 72 hours of their arrival.

Parents of child migrants could face charges of neglect

In a meeting between Vice President Roxana Baldetti and Attorney General Thelma Aldana, the Guatemalan Penal Code was analyzed in a discussion about charging parents who send their children to the US unaccompanied with neglect, which is punishable by up to three years in prison. A technical committee has since been created to seek prosecution of the guardians of child migrants ages 10 and under. This move towards prosecution has received backlash from the Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala and the Survivors Foundation, who argue that structural problems within Guatemala need to be fixed before parents can be criminalized.

Minors at a high risk of sexual violence

Based on statistics from the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, more than 68% of rapes in Guatemala are committed against women under the age of 18. Recently, the most vulnerable age range appears to be children ages 13-15. These statistics, as well as the findings of a report by the National Statistics Institute of Guatemala that shows a 439.4% increase in domestic abuse cases between 2004 and 2013, are considered potential factors pushing migrants out of the country.

Violent evictions in Valle de Polochic

On July 10, a contingent of police, accompanied by private security guards from the Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel, violently evicted 80 families from land that Níquel claims as company property. A further 100 families were evicted in Setal from land also claimed by Níquel.

Guatemala’s unregulated private security sector

Earlier this month, Patricia Eluvia Samayoa Méndez, an activist who worked to promote women’s rights, was murdered by a security guard at a pharmacy. Private security guards have been accused of extrajudicial killings, collaborating with members of the military, buying illegally trafficked weapons, and having ties with organized crime and are estimated to outnumber police 4 to 1 in the country.


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