Guatemala News Update: November 3-7

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Admonishes Guatemalan Government

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concluded its session of hearings with, among other things, a strongly worded admonishment of the Guatemalan government. The Commission stated it was “deeply concerned about the authorities’ denial of genocide and the position the State delegation took in the hearings, in which it defended the application of amnesty to grave human rights violations.” The statement also expressed concern about Guatemala’s lack of recognition of judgments from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, saying it constituted “an act of defiance.”

Over 18 cases from Guatemala have been brought through the Commission to the Court, for the State violation of protections enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights. A recent resolution by the Court found Guatemala to be in contempt of court for lack of compliance with 11 sentences relating to human rights violations during the internal armed conflict.

Agreement Published to Give Reparations to Families of Chixoy Dam Case

On November 6, 2014, the Journal of Central America published the agreement to give reparations to families affected by the Chixoy hydroelectric dam built in the 1980s. 1,200 million Quetzals will be provided to different municipalities in Quiché, Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz by 2029.

Guatemala and US Begin Arbitration

45 days after the establishment of an arbitral panel over the violation of labor rights, the Office of the US Trade Representative provided its arguments against Guatemala under CAFTA. The outcome of this process could be a penalty of up to $15 million against Guatemala for breaching labor laws. Guatemala will respond to the accusation within the next 30 days.

Pérez Molina and Shannon Meet to Prepare Agenda

In order to prepare for the meeting about child migrants taking place in Washington, DC on November 14, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina met with Thomas Shannon, an adviser to the US State Department, as well as Chancellor Carlos Morales and Guatemala’s ambassador to the US, Julio Ligorría.

After the meeting, Shannon remarked that this was “the first step in coming to an agreement about development with Central America.” In addition, Chancellor Morales indicated that the idea is to develop a plan to prevent migration which focuses on malnutrition, health, education and job creation. These issues  will be discussed at the Washington meeting.

US Ambassador to Guatemala “Will Fight” Against Corruption

The new US Ambassador to Guatemala, Todd Robinson, said in an interview with Prensa Libre that he “will fight” against corruption and that, if requested, the US is willing to continue its contribution to the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). He listed security (specifically violence against women), the economy and job creation, poverty and creating better living conditions as his top priorities. Robinson also mentioned that the US would continue to support in the fight against drug trafficking.

Behind the Surge of Unaccompanied Child Migrants to the US

Records from the US Border Patrol show that 445 immigrants died along the US-Mexican border in 2013. But this number only represents a small fraction of the total number of young Central Americans crossing the border illegally recently. Officials estimate that more than 57,000 unaccompanied children have been detained after entering the US so far this year, leading President Obama to call this a “humanitarian crisis.”

Deportations from US Grow 7% in 10 Months

Deportations of Guatemalans from the United States grew by 7% in the first 10 months of 2014 in comparison to the same period of time last year. From January to October, over 45,000 Guatemalans were sent back to Latin America; in 2013, that number was only 42,000.

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