Guatemala News Update: June 15-19

AFP Photo/Johan Ordonez

AFP Photo/Johan Ordonez

Guatemalan court brakes effort to strip president’s immunity

Guatemala’s Constitutional Court has ruled to act on a petition from President Pérez Molina which questions the legitimacy of the congressional panel that is currently investigating allegations against the president and, subsequently, choosing whether or not to remove his immunity from prosecution.

Last Friday, a Congressional hearing was held to elect the five-member commission; those voted into the commission were Baudilio Hichos López, Hugo Fernando García Gudiel and Juan Armando Chuy Chanchavac of the LIDER Party, Independent Congressman Mario Santiago Linares, and Hugo Morán Tobar of the CREO Party.

President Pérez Molina had been ordered to appear before Congress this Thursday to be questioned about his role in the corruption scandal. Instead of appearing to testify, the president sent in a written defense in which he claims that the Supreme Court should not have passed along his case to Congress. The President referred to the decision to remove his immunity as a “purely political, or spurious, or illegitimate situation.”

Also on Thursday, the head of the congressional commission investigating the president, Baudilio Hichos López, resigned after the CICIG linked him to the country’s social security scandal. Congressman Baudilio Hichos may now be stripped of the same legal immunity granted to him as an elected official that he seeks to remove from President Pérez Molina. The head of the CICIG as well as a top prosecutor in Guatemala suspect that Hichos was involved in a questionable real estate rental contract involving the social security agency. Read more about Baudilio Hichos’s resignation here.

Mexico Deporting Migrants from Central America in Record Numbers

After initiating its Southern Border Plan, under pressure from the US, Mexico has increased border protection along its southern boundary. According to the National Immigration Institute, Mexico deported 79% more Central Americans from January to April than it did during the same time period in 2014. Following the influx of nearly 50,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America into the US during 2014, the United States has increased bilateral efforts with Mexico to reduce the migration of Central Americans through Mexico. Human rights groups, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, have expressed concerns about Mexico’s heavy-handed approach to curtail the wave of migration.

Representative Ros-Lehtinen and 9 other lawmakers request TPS status for Guatemalans

A group of lawmakers, including Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, New York Rep. Eliot Engel and eight other members of Congress, sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to request that Guatemalans living in the US illegally be granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS), given the current environmental crises in addition to the high levels of violence in Guatemala.

The OAS Shows its Support of Holding Elections in Guatemala

Hector Timerman, Argentine foreign minister, presented the proposal at the 45th General Assembly of the OAS.

Hector Timerman, Argentine foreign minister, presented the proposal at the 45th General Assembly of the OAS. -Latin American Herald Tribune

The General Assembly of the OAS approved this Monday a resolution that supports the observance of elections for this September, and rejects any threat to Constitutional order. The resolution also calls for the commitment of the Guatemalan government to develop a free and transparent electoral process. The proposal, which was brought forth by Argentine foreign minister Hector Timerman, has received condemnation from social activists in Guatemala, arguing that this resolution will only prop up the corrupt officials that they seek to oust.

The Interior Ministry Activates an Emergency Line for Activists

On June 8, Guatemala’s Interior Ministry activated the number 1543 for journalists, activists, and human rights defenders to immediately file complaints. This is in an effort to speed up the process of submitting complaints and to form mechanisms of protection and immediate security for citizens defending human rights.

Interview with Crisanta Perez, Mayan woman, on her community’s struggle with mining company Goldcorp

In this interview by Halifax Media Co-Op with land rights defender Crisanta Perez, Perez speaks about her activism against Goldcorp Inc, which currently operates the Marlin gold mine in Agel, San Miguel Ixtuachuan.

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