Guatemala News Update: July 21-25

President Molina comes to the US

On Friday, July 25, the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador met with President Obama to discuss the child migrant crisis.

In related news, President Pérez Molina recommended during an interview with the Washington Post that the US give 10% of the $20 billion currently allocated towards border security and processing to Central American countries in order to “attack the root of the [migration] problem.” In previous statements President Molina said this money can go towards fighting organized crime and violence in the countries. In the interview the President also suggested that US foreign policy has played a role in Guatemalan suffering in reference to the connection between the internal armed conflict and the Cold War.

The OAS issues declaration on child migrants

The Organization of American States adopted a declaration regarding unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. The declaration, which was prepared by representatives from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, expresses, “solidarity with the governments of the region, so that the problem of unaccompanied migration of children is addressed from a humanitarian perspective that ensures the well being and respectful treatment of the children and that allows for family reunification where appropriate.”

Fenix Mine Reopens

The Fenix Mine, the largest nickel mine in Central America, recently reopened in Guatemala after a thirty year closure. A week later, nearby residents reported that a local meeting was disrupted by ten armed members from the mine’s private security force. In Canada, three lawsuits have been brought against Canadian companies who previously owned the mine to seek justice for crimes such as rape and murder.

Injunction filed against Xalalá feasibility study

Residents of Ixcán and Uspantán, Quiché, have filed an injunction for the annulment of the feasibility study for the Xalalá hydroelectric project. Yesterday, Congressman Amílcar Pop argued in court that the study, which was carried out by the Brazilian company Intertechne Consultores, is illegal. According to Christian Otzín, the lawyer representing the local communities, two other studies were carried out that concluded it would be impossible to have a hydroelectric project of the planned magnitude in the chosen location.

Opposition to mining projects framed as the “new national security threat”

Oswaldo Hernández investigates the quasi-secret Inter-institutional Mining Issues Group created in 2013 and the government’s new strategy to combat resistance to mining projects. Hernández focuses on  the conflict over the El Escobal mining project in San Rafael de Los Flores, which has served as the debut for the Guatemalan government’s concerning new security strategy.

Witness recalls massacre in Panzós

Juan Maquín, a survivor of the May 1978 massacre committed in Panzós, Alta Verapaz, testified in court regarding the murder of his mother, Adelina Caal, by soldiers. Maquín identified former military commissioner Heriberto Valdez Asij, who has also been implicated in the Sepur Zarco case that involved the sexual enslavement of women by soldiers in the early 1980s, as administering the final shot in his mother’s death.

Victims of the internal armed conflict laid to rest by their families

Residents of San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango, attended a ceremony to bury the remains of ten victims of the internal armed conflict who were discovered in mass graves at the site of an old military base near the entrance to their community. The remains of Matilde Cool Choc, another victim of the Internal armed conflict, were buried July 21 in Alta Verapaz. Cool Choc was detained in 1983 by the National Police and her remains were not discovered until 31 years later, among 538 other bodies, in an old military installation in Cobán.

World Bank confirms support for Guatemala

Humberto Lopez, current sector leader of Poverty Reduction and Economic Management at the World Bank, met with President Molina to reiterate the World Bank’s commitment to providing Guatemala with loans. Lopez announced that the Bank is currently negotiating three loans with Guatemala which would help fund the country’s 2015 national budget and projects such as tax reform.

Legal action against Paz y Paz

La Liga Pro Patria (League for the Nation), a Guatemalan far right organization, is bringing a lawsuit against Claudia Paz y Paz for alleged anomalies during her term as Attorney General. Accusations include the charges of failure to carry out duties, abuse of authority, and usurpation.

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