Guatemala News: July 2-10

July 5th:

Scandals Hurt Confidence in Guatemala Institutions: Poll

A poll by Prensa Libre shows that the recent corruption scandals in Guatemala have damaged the credibility of of the armed forces and the political elite. Citizen trust in the military, while declining to 50%, is still the highest level of trust of any other Guatemalan institution. CICIG has garnered the most trust from Guatemalan citizens, ranking higher than the Catholic and Evangelical churches.  

GuatePollMayaBioReserve

Criminal Activity Spreading Fire in Guatemala’s Maya Reserve

The razing of Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve continues as criminal groups burn preserved land in Petén, making room for the construction of clandestine landing strips. In the last few months, there have been over 160 fires which have destroyed more than 8,000 hectares of the protected forests. This is a major increase from last year when there were only 12 fires. This data shows a surge in use of the area for drug trafficking, primarily by the Sinaloa Cartel.

July 6th:

Guatemala Extends Use of Military in Policing Role

On July 3, 2016, the day after Guatemala’s national “Army Day,” a controversial holiday in celebration of the Guatemalan military, President Jimmy Morales announced that the Guatemalan Military would continue to support the Police in domestic security functions. Commissioner for Police Reform Aldea Torrebiarte supported the decision, while former police reform commissioner and human rights activist Helen Mack remains opposed, arguing that police militarization would push violence and delinquency to other areas, rather than address the roots causes of the violence.

Police Militarization

 

Guatemalan Police Confirms Clearing of People from Semuc Champey

The Guatemalan police (PNC) confirmed on Tuesday that indigenous community members from Lanquin, Alta Verapaz had been forcibly removed from the entrance of the Natural Monument Semuc Champey, a popular tourist attraction. Community members had decided to collect payments from tourists entering the site and to halt the presence of government forces there as a form of protest because of the government’s failure to observe Decree 25-2005. The decree declared Semuc Champey a protected area and promised compensation to local communities.

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