Guatemala News Update: November 2-13

Puyasign-machineryUS Congress to Guatemalan President: Halt Illegal Mining Operations at La Puya

This week, GHRC announced that 12 members of the US Congress sent a letter to Guatemalan President Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre to raise concerns about abuses related to the El Tambor gold mine in San Pedro Ayampuc, Guatemala. The letter calls on the President to use his authority to uphold human rights and to ensure that the mine’s owner–the US-based company Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA)–promptly halts its illegal operations.

The congressional letter was mentioned in this Prensa Libre opinion piece (in Spanish); you can also read more in our full press release, and read the congressional letter in its entirety here.

NGOs Demand Palm Oil Industry Stop Abuses in Latin America

GHRC joined a coalition of NGOs in delivering a letter to the world’s biggest palm oil traders, alerting them to the gross violations of human rights occurring in the palm oil sector in Mesoamerica — including the recent murder of Guatemalan environmental activist Rigoberto Lima Choc.

“In Guatemala, community members engaging in legitimate actions to protect their water quality and environment consistently face threats, attacks, and assassinations,” said Kelsey Alford-Jones, “often committed with impunity due to a lack of judicial independence, widespread government corruption, and ineffective oversight of corporate practices.”

Read the press release here.

New Report: State of Fear and Terror Deliberately Created to Force Tahoe Resources’ Mine on Guatemalan Communities

A new report reveals the dramatic extent of the militarized security strategy that Canadian-US mining company Tahoe Resources developed to quash community opposition to its Escobal project in southeastern Guatemala. Read the entire report by Guatemalan investigative journalist Luis Solano here.

CICIG Proposes Tax to Combat Impunity in Guatemala

The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has proposed the creation of a temporary tax on “large assets” in order to increase funds for criminal investigations as well as other programs related to combating corruption and impunity in Guatemala. While this is just the beginning of a proposal, the head of CICIG, Iván Velásquez, explained that immediate action must be taken to strengthen the Guatemalan justice system.

President Maldonado meets with army officials to confirm support

President Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre met with commanders, directors and officers from the high command of the Guatemalan Army to confirm his “absolute trust” in the country’s armed forces. The president stressed the military’s importance in the country and stated that during the armed conflict the military defended Guatemala and did not act “to kill anyone in particular.”

Children Continue to Migrate North

Despite a strenuous journey that usually ends in deportation or repatriation, Guatemalan children continue to migrate North to Mexico and the United States. Data published by the US Border Patrol indicates that 13,589 children have attempted to migrate into the US in the fiscal year of 2014-2015, and that the main reasons why children migrate have not changed: violence, poverty and a lack of basic rights.

In a related article, Guatemalans residing in the United States explained that a recent decision by a federal appeals court — which stalled a move by the Obama administration to grant up to five million immigrants work permits and protection from deportation — will not stop Guatemalans from migrating to the United States.

A Wrong Turn for Guatemalan Democracy

In this New York Times op-ed, Anita Isaacs looks at Guatemala’s path to democracy, arguing that sudden springs of democracy are short-lived and that “protests and elections aren’t enough.” Isaacs predicts several challenges for president-elect Jimmy Morales, including his party’s weak presence in Congress, ties to organized criminal networks by members of his party, and the manipulation of power business sectors.

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