Guatemala News Update: August 4-7

‘Obnoxious’ La Puya Members Will Not Make the Gold Mine Go Away, CEO Says

Vice News

Vice News

In a Vice News article, Jeff Abbott reports on the recent victory won by La Puya in a local Guatemalan court and his interview with Dan Kappes, CEO of mining company Kappes, Cassiday, & Associates (KCA), while on his recent trip to Guatemala.

Despite the court’s ruling that KCA had obtained an invalid construction license and its order for the company to suspend all construction at El Tambor within 15 days, Kappes stated in the interview that, “the construction license is a moot point.” In addition to claiming that the company had in fact carried out a consultation with the community, Kappes also asserted: “I guess the protesters think that if they are obnoxious enough, the mine will go away.”

Leading up to the 15-day deadline, GHRC delivered an open letter to KCA with over 2,200 signatures, demanding that the company comply with the court decision. Despite these actions, KCA has as of now decided to continue operations at the mine.

GHRC will continue to support La Puya, and urge KCA to abide by Guatemalan law.

5 Guatemalan Soldiers Detained Following Leaked Video

Police in Guatemala have detained five soldiers on abuse of authority charges after a video circulated on social media showing them beating two teenagers. The incident occurred on July 26 after an army patrol received a report from neighbors that the minors in the video were allegedly drinking and assaulting people, according to army spokesperson Hugo Rodriguez. The video shows the five soldiers repeatedly kicking the boys in the stomach, slapping them, and pulling them off the ground by their hair, among other forms of abuse. According to the article, the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (PDH) opened an investigation of the two soldiers, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office stated that it will also initiate an investigation.

Land Rights Victory for Poqomchi’ Community in Alta Verapaz

Upside Down World

Upside Down World

Nearly 300 Poqomchi’ Maya families residing in the Primavera communities of Alta Verapaz have won a significant victory in their fight for land rights. On July 14, community representatives and the Guatemalan Land Fund signed documents to officially recognize three communities as the owners of the approximately 800 hectares of land where they have been residing for over 200 years.

The Secretary of Agrarian Affairs oversaw the titling of the land to the communities, after the land had been occupied by Maderas Filips Dias/Eco-Tierra, a logging company, and various other transnational companies harvesting palm oil and sugar cane without the consent of the community.

Ríos Montt Transferred to Private Hospital for Evaluation

After several days of delay in Ríos Montt’s transfer to a hospital for additional psychiatric evaluation, the Constitutional Court approved of the former dictator’s transfer to a private hospital, as opposed to the Federico Mora psychiatric hospital, for an additional round of psychiatric tests to determine whether he’s intellectually fit to face trial. The author of the article by the International Justice Monitor wrote: “It would have closed a historical loop, in a way, had Guatemalan former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt been sent for evaluation to a notorious mental institution that fell into disrepair under his short-lived de facto rule.”

Ríos Montt was escorted to the hospital by his two children, Luis Enrique Ríos Sosa and Zury Ríos Sosa, who had her own victory last week: the Constitutional Court ruled that she can run for president in the upcoming elections, despite a constitutional provision prohibiting close family members of a coup leader-cum-president from becoming the president.

Top Presidential Candidates Skip Debate

As Guatemala’s presidential elections approach in September, two of the three top candidates — Manuel Baldizon and former First Lady Sandra Torres — skipped a nationally-televised debate yesterday.

In related news, presidential candidates ratified their commitment to freedom of press by signing the Chapultepec Declaration, a document with ten rules established by the region in 1994 to guarantee freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

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