Guatemalan News Update: September 22-26

Community Members and Organizations Commemorate 5th Anniversary of Killing of Adolfo Ich

On September 27 of 2009, Adolfo Ich Chamán was murdered by private security forces working for the Fenix nickel mine in El Estor, Guatemala. Adolfo’s death was part of a wave of violence committed by employees of CGN, the Guatemalan subsidiary of Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals, against anti-mine activists. On the same day that Adolfo was killed, seven others were injured, including German Chub, who was shot and left paralyzed.

Community members in El Estor will commemorate Adolfo’s death, as well as the ongoing community resistance, through ceremonies and events to take place on September 27, 2014. Representatives of GHRC will be present at the commemoration in Guatemala. Today, a memorial in solidarity with those in El Estor will also be held in Toronto in front of Hudbay’s corporate headquarters.

State of Emergency in Guatemala Town After Clashes

On September 22nd, Guatemala declared a “State of Prevention” in San Juan Sacatepéquez, a municipality outside the capital. The emergency measures, which suspend constitutional rights, were allegedly put in place in response to acts of violence committed in the community of Los Pajoques on the 19th and 20th of September. The clash, which killed eleven people, resulted from disagreements over the construction of a cement factory and proposed highway which would cut through the community.

Click here to read GHRC’s statement detailing concerns over the State of Prevention in San Juan Sacatepéquez.

Congress Receives “Acceptable” List for the Supreme Court of Justice

On September 22nd, a list of twenty-six candidates for the Supreme Court of Justice was sent to Congress. Thirteen Supreme Court judges were then elected from the list candidates, amongst suspicions that the final list had already been decided upon prior to the vote. Human rights groups have expressed frustration at the selection proceedings, which have been criticized as being opaque, responding to private interests, and guaranteeing a “pact of impunity.”

New Talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry

On September 23rd, government officials from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras met with Secretary of State John Kerry to present plans to stop the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children into the United States. The plans were the result of a July meeting with President Barack Obama. Chancellor Carlos Raúl Morales, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said, “The idea is that from these plans, a discussion with the United States will open for two or three months…”

Plans for Immigrant Family Detention Center Draws Criticism

Federal officials are planning the construction of a new detention center near San Antonio to house Central American immigrant children and their parents. This new center could be run by a for-profit prison firm with a history of holding families in deplorable conditions. Advocates warn against the use of detention centers to house families. “It breaks down the structure of families,” said Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

New Instances of Political Repression of “Los q’eqchies”

This article looks at the connection between violence and the exploitation of natural resources in Alta Verapaz, where the construction of a hydroelectric dam is being planned. On August 15th, the National Civil Police violently evicted dozens of families and entered the village of Semococh in order to capture two leaders of Codeca, an organization of peasants and indigenous peoples calling for justice and better living conditions. The conflict ended in a violent clash between the police and villagers, which left three villagers dead.

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