Guatemala News Update: January 25-29

Emblematic cases of wartime atrocities move forward in Guatemala Courts

Sepur Zarco: The Case of sexual and domestic slavery against 15 Q’eqchi’ women at the Sepur Zarco military outpost goes to trial on Feb. 1, more than 30 years after the crimes were committed. GHRC’s recent post shares background and resources to stay up-to-date as the trial moves forward.

CREOMPAZ: A recent article from NACLA looks at the recent arrests of 18 former military, most of whom were arrested for their connections with crimes committed at the CREOMPAZ base in Coban. 12 of accused had been students at the US School of the Americas. Another suspect, Congressman Edgar Justino Ovalle of the President’s FCN Nation political party, enjoys immunity from prosecution, a protection recently upheld by the Guatemala Supreme Court.

Evicted Families ask the President to comply with the IACHR measures

Representatives of families of the Polochic Valley who were violently evicted in 2011 have asked President Jimmy Morales to comply with the precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The measures have been in place since 2011 when close to 800 families from 12 communities were violently and forcibly evicted. Only 140 families have been formally resettled, while most continue to live in precarious conditions, some returning to squat on land owned by the sugar cane refinery Chabil Utzaj, who has threatened a new wave of evictions. Families have asked for suspension of all evictions until the adoption of legislation that prevents forced evictions and that in his role as head of state, President Morales fulfills the state’s commitment to grant land and provide decent resettlement conditions for the 578 remaining families waiting for land.

Guatemala Asks US to Investigate Abuses Against Child Migrants

Guatemala’s Ministry of Foreign Relations has requested the United States government to investigate alleged sexual and physical abuses against migrants and refugees that enter the United States. According to victims’ testimonies, the most of the alleged abuse is committed by family or adults responsible for their care, as assigned to them by the US Department of Health and Social Welfare Services. Guatemalan officials called upon the US to be aware of such issues and take action according, and encouraged victims to report any incidence of abuse.

Corruption Continues in Guatemala

Guatemala’s hospitals have faced their worst crisis in history, which has persisted since last year. Currently, some hospitals are in debt to medical supply companies and are forced to rely on materials provided by patients, and some have had to close down. According to Public Health Minister Mariano Rayo, the problem has been worsened by corruption and mismanagement of public funds, such as last year’s corruption scandal that misdirected massive amounts of public money, some of which would have been invested in public health.

Also, Sherry Lucrecia Ordonez Castro, President Jimmy Morales’ minister for Communications, Infrastructure and Housing has resigned after authorities announced that she has an outstanding tax debt, and her status as a government contractor was confirmed, which is illegal for someone serving her position. Her company also faces tax problems and has faced suspension for delayed payments.

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