Guatemala News Update: August 11-15

Agreement to construct hydroelectric project leads to violent eviction

An agreement signed between the mining company Hidro Santa Rita and President Otto Pérez Molina on July 30 resulted in a violent eviction in Monte Olivo, Cobán, Alta Verapaz. As a result of the eviction and subsequent protests, 24 people were arrested, six police officers injured, and three people died. There was reportedly no consultation with the communities that would be affected by the project’s installation.

Another Goldcorp crime is exposed

An interview with a woman by the alias of “Doña A” recounts the alleged 2009 murder of her husband by employees of the Marlin Mine in Northwest Guatemala. Her husband informed neighboring communities about the negative effects the mine would have and also helped organize a community referendum.

Postwar period has not been a peaceful one

A new study released by the Mutual Support Group (GAM) showed that more than 80,000 homicides have been committed in Guatemala since the Peace Accords were signed 18 years ago. In 1997, the year after the internal armed conflict ended, 3,988 homicides were reported, compared to 5,253 in 2013.

Explosives disappear from Guatemalan bases

Insight Crime analyzes the disappearance of 1,500 grenades from Guatemala military stocks in 2013. An inspection of storage facilities found no signs of a break in and a source told El Periódico that the grenades were trafficked to the Zetas cartel and a Huehuetenango drug clan “Los Huistas.”

Evicted families demand suitable living conditions

The 110 families evicted from the Polochic Valley in March 2011 now reside in Sactelá, Cobán, Alta Verapaz, and denounce their new location as being unsuitable to live in. On August 14, 32 organizations from eight countries in Latin America demanded the restitution of the land taken away from the farmers through a letter to the presidents of Paraguay and Guatemala.

Selection of new Supreme Court justices and Appeals Court judges begins

The quality of the candidates for Supreme Court and Appeals Court positions will not be judged on their professional work and ethical merits, but rather emphasis will be placed on their years of work experience. Because of this decision,  injunctions have been filed against the selection process.

“As long as there are Guatemalans in the US, unaccompanied child migration will continue”

In a forum on child migration, representatives from Unicef in Guatemala and the Catholic Church met to discuss the apparent decrease in the migration of unaccompanied minors to the US in recent weeks. Justo Solórzano argued that the decrease is normal for this time of year as it gets warmer.

New York City and several defense attorneys urgently called on lawyers to defend child migrants pro bono before the US government speeds up the processing of cases. Those who end up in an immigration court in the US are not entitled to attorneys paid by the US government but can hire private lawyers. However, many do not have sufficient funds to do so.

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