Members of Congress Call on Secretary Blinken to Demand End to State of Exception in El Estor 

In a letter released this afternoon, nine representatives publicly urged Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to condemn and call for the removal of the state of exception imposed on El Estor. Of the five states of exception–which is outlined in the Guatemalan Constitution and allows for the temporary suspension of certain rights and guarantees–the state of war is the most restrictive, followed by the state of siege and state of prevention. The community has been under a state of exception since October 23, when President Giammettei declared a state of siege; a state of prevention was declared on November 22 and is set to remain in effect for 15 days. The letter outlines specific incidents of violence committed against the community by security forces and expresses worry over the possibility of US aid being used by police to carry out repression.  

You can read the full text of the letter here. Demands listed below. 

The letter demands that the State Department:

  • Publicly affirm that the U.S. respects the rule of law in Guatemala and that the Constitutional Court’s ruling suspending the Fenix mine until indigenous communities are consulted regarding its operation must be followed.
  • Reiterate to the Guatemalan government that U.S. donated equipment and U.S. funded or trained personnel must never be used to repress nonviolent demonstrators community members, or support the extraction o f natural resources from indigenous land without local consent including to execute the State of Exception Congress has already stressed this after donated jeeps were used to intimidate CICIG and the U.S. Embassy in 2018 and were assured the U.S. equipment would not be misused.
  • Request the Government of Guatemala provide detailed whereabouts of U.S. donated equipment including jeeps and other vehicles donated for the use of counter narcotics operations, portable fingerprint scanners and biometrics data sharing that may be used to identify indigenous leaders, support for Pegasus and other software used to identify activists and political opposition leaders, or any other direct or indirect support. This information should include the chain of command that allowed U.S. assistance to be used to undermine democratic processes and any other uses that are against the intent and interests of the United States, as well as an acknowledgement of any false statements or misleading facts provided to the United States by Guatemalan officials about this event.
  • Provide specific, detailed information regarding any U.S. coordination with the Guatemalan police, military intelligence units public ministry and any other government divisions involved in the State of Exception. Evaluate any U.S. funding streams or support through International Financial Institutions for the Fenix mine or related projects in the region that support the mine.
  • Evaluate U.S. support and training for the Guatemalan police and military in accordance with human rights conditions placed in the 2021 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations law. We also urge you to fully enforce the Leahy Law, which prohibits assistance to individuals or units of any foreign military or police body that commit gross human rights abuses with impunity. The State Department, including our embassy in Guatemala and the Department of Defense, must take a consistent and public stance supporting those threatened with human rights abuses, and strongly encourage the investigation and prosecution of those perpetuating crimes.
  • We also ask that you immediately block assistance to state agents involved in the State of Exception and related repression in El Estor.

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