Guatemala News Update: October 20-24

State of Prevention Extended 15 Days in San Juan Sacatepéquez

On October 21, the government extended the “State of Prevention” imposed upon San Juan Sacatepéquez by another fifteen days. The State of Prevention, which has been in place since September 21, suspends constitutional rights in the wake of a violent clash in the community of Los Pajoques. The conflict resulted from a dispute over the construction of a cement factory and a highway.

On October 24, a group of women from San Juan marched through Guatemala City to demand an end to the State of Prevention. The women presented a complaint regarding alleged abuses with the Human Rights Ombudsman and ended the march in front of the presidential offices to call on the government to end its use of martial law.

SJS-marchThree Linked to Criminal Network Run by Byron Lima Oliva

The ex-Director of the Penitentiary System, Édgar Camargo; the wife of Byron Lima Oliva, Alejandra Reyes Ochoa; and an ex-agent in the National Civil Police, Carlos Cermeño, have been linked to criminal activity headed by Byron Lima Oliva. Charges against them include conspiracy, bribery, and money laundering.

New Operations Begin to Combat Extortion of Workers in Guatemala’s Transportation Sector

On October 21, 1,200 agents of Guatemala’s police force began operations to address extortion in the transportation sector. Agents will be stationed on routes, stops and buses that have been identified as hotspots for criminal activity. 70 drivers and 24 other transportation workers have been murdered so far in 2014.

Guatemala: A Vulnerable Country

United Nations worker Valerie Julliand, in a recent Siglo21 interview, points to violence, poverty, inequality, impunity, and lack of education as some of the biggest challenges that Guatemala faces. She calls the country “vulnerable,” though “fascinating and complex.”

Oakland Approves $577,000 to Help Central American Child Migrants

On October 21, the City Council of Oakland, California unanimously voted to grant $577,000 in legal aid to Central American child and teenage migrants. The money will pay for lawyers to defend children and teens who are facing deportation. Since January, over 300 youth from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have come to Alameda County, the majority of them to Oakland.

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