Guatemala News Update: July 27-31

Victory for La Puya: “Communities struggling against mining win major victory in Guatemala”

This Upside Down World article describes the July 15 victory for the environmental movement ‘La Puya’ when Judge Angelica Noemi Tellez Hernandez ruled in favor of the nonviolent community resistance. The judge ordered Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA) to suspend the construction of all infrastructure projects at its El Tambor mine in San Pedro Ayampuc.

GHRC has been supporting communities through a Change.org campaign, calling on KCA to comply with the court sentence. You can also read more about the court ruling on our blog.

Guatemalan Reporters Subjected to Increased Violence

The Association of Guatemalan Reporters (La Asociación de Periodistas de Guatemala) stated that it condemns the increase in aggression against reporters in the year 2015, and denounced the “constant intent to sabotage their informative work.” The CICIG is aware of the the influx in aggression and has expressed concern about this phenomenon.

La Tribuna

Ríos Montt Retrial Halted Once Again

Rios Montt was ordered on Saturday by a Guatemalan court to be transferred to a national hospital for additional psychiatric observation; the decision rejects a prior medical report conducted by Guatemala’s National Forensics Institute (Inacif) that found Ríos Montt senile, and thus unfit for trial. At the last minute, Montt’s scheduled transfer was blocked by a legal maneuver on the part of his defense attorneys, again halting the proceedings of the retrial for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Read more about the latest developments in the case in Spanish.

Guatemala Supreme Court Lifts Immunity for Three Members of Congress

The Supreme Court has removed the immunity for three members of Congress and members of the Líder Party — Mario Gerardo Yanes Guerra, Luis Adolfo Chávez Pérez and Mirza Judith Arreaga Meza de Cardona — who are suspected of money laundering, illicit enrichment, abuse of authority, and influence trafficking. The decision was announced at a news conference on Thursday.

“Mass Die-Off of Fish Underscores Dangers of Palm Oil Industry in Guatemala”

Tens of thousands of fish washed up along a river running through the Municipality of Sayaxché. The environmental contamination is being referred to throughout the community as an “ecocide,” and many community members have signaled out the local palm company, Reforestadora de Palma del Petén (REPSA), as the likely source of water pollution. The affected communities along the river have demanded that the company’s operations be investigated and closed down because of the contamination.

UNICEF reports that each hour 2 unaccompanied minors migrate into the US

Each hour two unaccompanied minors illegally immigrate to the United States, most often in search of better living and economic conditions, according a UNICEF report. UNICEF and local partners have initiated a campaign to support the increasing number of child and adolescent migrants that US policy makers identified as a possible humanitarian crisis this time last year. The campaign will teach minors what to do if detained or abandoned during their migration and it will teach them about their rights.

In a related article, a US judge also ruled last week that US Detention Policy violates an 18-year-old court settlement between the Department of Justice and immigrant rights advocates. The US will need to find a different way to house unaccompanied minors, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement has consequently vowed to improve oversight.

In Guatemala, Exhuming Children to Make Room for Death

This New York Times piece highlights Guatemalan-born photographer Saul Martinez, who captures the inhumane dumping of the deceased once their families can longer afford to pay the monthly rate for their burial space in local cemeteries. The article and his photographs also allude to the country’s past of impunity and violence.

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