Guatemala News Update: June 1-5

gabriela-smallSexual Violence as a War Crime in Guatemala: Mayan Women Struggle for Justice

GHRC Executive Director Kelsey Alford-Jones conducted an interview with Gabriela Rivera, a lawyer with Mujeres Transformando el Mundo (MTM), about the organization’s approach to seeking justice for sexual violence prevalent during the internal conflict, with a focus on the Sepur Zarco sexual slavery case.

Guatemala’s Political Crisis Explained

GHRC explains the current political crisis, as well as what may come next for Guatemala on the Due Process of Law Foundation’s blog (in Spanish).

Lawyer who defended former Guatemala dictator in genocide trial murdered

On Wednesday, June 3, the Guatemalan defense lawyer for Efraín Ríos Montt, Francisco Palomo, was shot dead by two men in Guatemala City. Palomo had previously defended former President Alfonso Portillo for charges of money-laundering in the United States. Along with the increasingly serious health condition of Ríos Montt, the death of his defense lawyer is expected to cause further delay in his trial for genocide.

Judge Confirms Preventative Detention for Individuals Held in Connection to “La Línea” Fraud Ring

Yesterday, the CICIG released a statement reporting that the judge for the La Línea Case, Judge Gálvez, has deemed it necessary to hold 15 individuals — including Álvaro Omar Franco Chacón and Carlos Enrique Muñoz Roldán, former directors of Guatemala’s tax agency — in preventative detention. The first hearing is scheduled for June 15.

The current list of individuals being held, as well as other individuals currently in extrajudicial detainment for their link to La Línea, is available via the CICIG.

Scandals in Guatemala, Honduras, threaten to destabilize region

On Monday, June 1, it was reported that President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras faces demands for his resignation and an investigation into corruption that have been seen recently in Guatemala.

President Hernández and other officials of his political party are accused of misusing $90 million worth of Social Security funds, a part of a larger $300 million believed by investigators to be pocketed. Several officials of the Social Security Institute as well as the former Vice Ministers of Health and Labor have been detained for questioning.

Thousands of protesters gathered in the capital last week and took to Twitter with the hashtag #RenunciaJOH, a variation of the #RenunciaYa campaign that was used to organize protests in Guatemala. Although the two movements are not directly related, the issue of corruption is central in both cases. Hondurans are now calling for their own international commission to fight impunity similar to the CICIG, which has had successes in fighting organized crime and corruption in Guatemala.

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