Guatemala News Update: March 2-6

Vice President Biden Visits Guatemala

Joe Biden met with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to discuss in detail the Alliance for Prosperity Plan. Following an initial meeting, Biden and the presidents of the Northern Triangle countries payed a visit to the Ixchel Museum to meet with members of the private sector, where Biden stressed the need for business owners to invest in their own countries.

Biden also urged Guatemala to continue the mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG), and met with CICIG Commissioner Velazquez to underscore the importance of the commission’s work. In a response to Biden’s comments, President Pérez Molina rejected the notion of using the extension of the CICIG as a precondition for receiving US funding.

“Smaller than David”: The Struggle of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala

Human rights groups The Observatory and UDEFEGUA have launched a report and documentary film about the vulnerability of human rights defenders in Guatemala. The report highlights the targeting of land rights defenders via criminalization, threats and physical violence.

Human Rights Defenders Share Mayan Fight for Land Rights

Two Guatemalan human right activists, Micaela Antonio and Alfredo Baltazar Pedro, share their experiences and concerns in a short film by Frontline Defenders. Their community near Barillas, Guatemala, is under threat due to both corporate and government interests in exploiting the natural resources in the area.

Guatemala Suspended from EITI for Lack of Transparency

Guatemala — along with Yemen, Indonesia and the Central African Republic — has been suspended from the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) for the government’s failure to present its financial report on royalties. Guatemala has until June 30 to turn in the report and have the suspension lifted.

Women Lead Struggle Against Mining and Machismo in Guatemala

This article, which highlights the environmental movement “La Puya,” looks at the ways women across Guatemala have been affected by the negative impacts of mining activities.  It also examines how women have become leaders in resistance movements and, in some cases, changed the gender dynamics within their communities.

Battle Over Inter-oceanic Pipeline in Guatemala

An ambitious plan to create an oil pipeline to transport crude petroleum from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean continues facing opposition in Guatemala. The company in charge of the project — Vía Energética, S.A. — has submitted two initial environmental assessments to Guatemala’s Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN).   So far, both evaluations have been rejected. The MARN will have the final say over whether the project will move forward.

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