Guatemala News Update: May 25-29

One Year After Violent Eviction, La Puya Under Threat Again

On May 26, almost exactly one year after police violently broke up the peaceful anti-mining blockade at La Puya, approximately 300 police officials arrived again at the site. Police officials claimed that they were responding to an allegation that members of La Puya had illegally detained several mine works — an accusation that community members say is “totally false,” and that a justice of the peace could find no evidence to substantiate.

Police threatened to evict protesters, but lacked the required eviction order to forcefully remove them. While community members have let workers in to the mine and no longer block the road, a contingent of police remain, and a new police camp has been set up on company land right across from La Puya. Read more about recent events at La Puya on our blog.

Vice President Baldetti’s Properties Raided

On May 28, Guatemalan authorities and CICIG officials raided 14 properties associated with former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, whose press secretary has been linked to the tax fraud scandal that resulted in the resignation of several top Guatemalan officials earlier this month. Baldetti resigned on May 8 due to increasing public pressure, although she denies any involvement in the scandal.

President Pérez Molina Faces Mounting Calls for Resignation

Demands for the resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina continued this week in light of the tax fraud scandal, and a separate investigation regarding the Social Security Institute and the President Pérez Molina’s close friend and central bank director, Julio Suarez. Most recently Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, and Guatemala’s national association of attorneys have called for the president’s resignation. Pérez Molina continues to state that he will finish out his term.

Inacif Orders Psychological Evaluation of Ríos Montt

The latest report from Guatemala’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences (Inacif), released on May 22, recommends that Ríos Montt receive a psychological evaluation due to his deteriorating mental health. According to Montt’s lawyers, the results of the test could halt the criminal prosecution against him.

Ríos Montt was originally tried and found guilty in May 2013 of genocide and war crimes. That decision was reversed 10 days later and a retrial was set for January 5, 2015, only to be postponed again when Rios Montt’s lawyers accused one of the judges presiding over the case, Judge Valdez, of impartiality.

Spectators Watch as Girl is Brutally Killed in Rio Bravo

A video of a 16-year-old Guatemalan girl being beaten and burned to death as spectators watch has gone viral on the internet, spurring a debate over so-called “vigilante justice.” The perpetrators of the crime, which took place in the village of Rio Bravo, claim to have carried out the act in response to the girl’s connection to the murder of a taxi driver earlier this month.

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