Guatemala News Update: November 16-27

Sepur Zarco Trial to Start in February

The Sepur Zarco trial — Guatemala’s first criminal trial that pertains to sexual violence from the internal armed conflict — is set to open on February 1, 2016. The case deals with the abuses of women forced to serve as domestic and sexual slaves at the Sepur Zarco military outpost in the 1980s. The case also marks the first time anywhere that a domestic court has taken on a case related to sexual slavery.

Guatemalan Migrants in US Present Demands to Guatemalan Government

Conguate, a coalition of Guatemalan citizens living in the United States, gathered in Guatemala City on November 18 to lobby the Guatemalan government for a specific political agenda concerning migration.

In Guatemala, People Living Off Forests Are Tasked With Protecting Them

This article investigates a conservation strategy in Uaxactún, Guatemala in which communities already living in the region have been given control over protecting local forests from threats such as cattle ranchers, illegal loggers and drug traffickers. The community-based approach has helped conserve the most threatened tree species in the jungle,the native bigleaf mahogany and Spanish cedar.

Guatemala Says Its Hospitals Are an Absolute Disaster

Guatemala’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare Mariano Rayo blames the disastrous state of Guatemala’s health care system on the country’s political corruption and mismanagement of public funds, especially those earmarked for public health. As he visited Western Regional Hospitals, Rayo was continually disappointed that many of the hospitals were disorganized, with inadequate resources and limited services provided to patients.

Guatemala Moves Legal Age for Marriage to 18

Earlier this month, on November 4, Congress raised the minimum age for marriage for both men and women to 18. Although this is an extremely important legal step, enforcing the new law poses a challenge; UNICEF reports 7% of girls in Guatemala are married by age 15 and that 30% are married by age 18.

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