Guatemala News Update: September 1-5

AP: Guatemala Bishop’s Killer Ran Alleged Jail Empire

Former Guatemalan Army Captain Byron Lima Oliva, originally sentenced to 20 years in jail for the 1998 murder of Bishop Gerardi, is facing new charges of organized crime and money laundering. Prosecutors allege that Lima built an “illicit prison empire,” extorting money from inmates and officials in return for favors. National prison system director Sergio Camargo also faces charges, and allegedly received money from Lima.

The hearing of first statements from Lima and 13 others who are being accused, originally slated for Friday, September 5, was rescheduled by Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez over health concerns.

Telesur: US Court Sets Precedent by Ruling Guatemalan Domestic Violence Victim Can Seek Asylum

This week, the top US immigration court ruled that women fleeing situations of domestic violence can legally seek asylum in the United States.

KEY QUOTE: “‘This decision shines a light on the extreme gender-based violence which exists in Guatemala, and the same is true of El Salvador and Honduras – and many of those in the recent ‘surge’ should benefit from this ruling,’ said Musalo, a legal adviser who helped advance this historic case.”

Newsweek: Dubbed Terrorists, Mayans Fight Back Against Guatemalan Mining Projects

This article provides an overview of several indigenous resistance movements to mega-projects throughout Guatemala, as well as the repression and criminalization these movements are facing.

KEY QUOTE: “In theory, their communal right to land is enshrined in law; according to International Labour Organisation standards, these communities need to give free, prior and informed consent for any mining project that conflicts with those claims. In practice, a complicated system of land titling, and the constant re-evaluation of boundaries by local and national governments has created a vacuum of human and property rights.”

Telesur: Guatemala Strikes Down ‘Monsanto Law’

This week, Guatemala’s Congress, responding to pressure and public protests from groups across the country, voted to repeal the so-called ‘Monsanto Law’ — a seed-privatization provision in the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) with the US. Residents worry that the law would monopolize agricultural production and threaten food sovereignty. It remains unclear how the decision will ultimately affect Guatemala’s inclusion in CAFTA-DR.

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