Dear Friends,

Today is the day! During the next 24 hours, people around the world will come together to participate in a global day of giving. At GHRC we have a goal of raising $4,000 to promote human rights in Guatemala and support communities and activists who face threats and violence. Thanks to supporters like you, we believe it’s possible.

Attacks on human rights defenders have skyrocketed in recent months, and we’ve responded. This year, we provided accompaniment and emergency support to over 93 human rights defenders in Guatemala, including women defenders, defenders of Indigenous rights, and environmental defenders. Will you help us support the brave Guatemalans fighting for truth and justice? Please DONATE  and help us help our Guatemalan partners.   Please give whatever you can. Every bit makes a difference.

P.S.  Share on social media and let friends and loved ones know they can make a difference on #GivingTuesday by supporting our work! Please DONATE


Army and Police Move to Evict Indigenous Communities in Baja Verapaz

During the night of November 24, according to reports, numerous soldiers, police officers, and heavily armed civilian men are making incursions into the Q’eqchi and Poqomchi communities in the Sierra de las Minas, Baja Verapaz.

Already, for five days now, numerous contingents of soldiers and police officers have been occupying and controlling communities in the area. In the face of the armed and intimidating force of the military, members of the communities of Pancoc and Monjón fled their homes. Members of the army and the National Civil Police then entered and occupied the homes of community members, consumed their foods, killed and consumed their animals, and reportedly seriously injured more than one community member. 

We are deeply concerned that more illegal and arbitrary evictions, including of the Dos Fuentes and Washington communities, will follow. These communities received protective orders from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in October 2020. Their rights must be respected. The Guatemalan government agreed to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of the Poqomchi’ Mayan families of the Washington and Dos Fuentes communities; use culturally appropriate measures to improve their living conditions, nutrition, and access to water; prevent acts of violence by third parties; and investigate the attacks that led to the granting of protective measures.

Instead, your government took action that put Indigenous communities at greater risk, in 2021 creating the Observatory on Property Rights and a special Prosecutors Office for the Crime of Usurpation—usurpation being a charge often leveled against Indigenous communities claiming their ancestral lands. Two months ago, the Guatemalan army inaugurated its first new military brigade in ten years, based in Baja Verapaz.

The entire Sierra de Las Minas area is now militarized, and as a result of the heavy presence of soldiers and police officers, members of Indigenous communities have not been able to freely circulate to carry out essential tasks of daily life. 

Your government has systematically and repeatedly violated  basic standards evictions must meet under international law. Various Poqomchi’ and Q’eqchi communities now fearfully await illegal and arbitrary forced eviction. 

We urge the Guatemalan government to guarantee community members’ rights to life, liberty, and physical safety;

Cancel eviction orders that violate human rights and international standards and place Indigenous communities, including families with children, in grave danger;

Immediately demilitarize the Sierra de Las Minas area and guarantee the safety and free movement of members of these threatened Indigenous communities;

Comply with all obligations in the IACHR precautionary measures for the communities of Dos Fuentes and Washington, as well as obligations of the Guatemalan Constitution and international treaties adopted by Guatemala related to demilitarization and Indigenous rights.


En horas de la noche de hoy 24 de noviembre, numerosos militares, elementos
policiales y hombres civiles fuertemente armados están incursionando en las
comunidades q’eqchi y poqomchi en la Sierra de las Minas, Baja Verapaz.
Ya son 5 días que ocupan y controlan a las comunidades y ante la fuerza armada
e intimidatoria de los militares, miembros de las comunidades de Pancoc y Monjón
huyeron de sus hogares. Miembros del ejército y de la Policía Nacional Civil ingresaron
y ocuparon las viviendas de los comuneros, consumieron sus alimentos, mataron y
consumieron sus animales y, según los informes, hirieron gravemente a miembros de
la comunidad.

Nos preocupa profundamente que el Estado de Guatemala esté realizando desalojos
ilegales y arbitrarios, incluidos los de las comunidades de Dos Fuentes y Washington.
Las comunidades cuentan con medidas de protección de la Comisión Interamericana de
Derechos Humanos dadas en octubre de 2020. El gobierno de Guatemala se obligó
proteger los derechos a la vida e integridad personal de las familias mayas poqomchi’
de las comunidades de Washington y Dos Fuentes; utilizar medidas culturalmente
apropiadas para mejorar sus condiciones de vida, nutrición y acceso al agua; prevenir
actos de violencia por parte de terceros; e investigar las agresiones que dieron lugar al
otorgamiento de medidas de protección.

Instamos al gobierno de Guatemala a garantizar el derechos a la vida, la libertad y la
seguridad física de los miembros de las comunidades; Cancelar las órdenes de desalojo
que violan los derechos humanos y las normas internacionales y ponen en grave
peligro a las comunidades indígenas, incluidas las familias con niños; Desmilitarizar de
inmediato la zona de la Sierra de Las Minas y garantizar la seguridad y libre circulación
de los miembros de estas comunidades indígenas amenazadas; cumplir las
obligaciones de la Constitución política de Guatemala y los tratados internacionales
adoptados por el Estado de Guatemala, relacionados con la desmilitarización y los
derechos indígenas.

GHRC Connects Defenders to Policymakers with Back-to-Back Tours

As the situation continues to devolve in Guatemala, GHRC has remained committed to amplifying the demands of our partners on the front lines of defending human rights. In the last month, our Advocacy Team has been hard at work, leading two tours of Central Americans in Washington, DC to connect human rights defenders with policymakers and government officials. 

GHRC Accompanies Survivors and Transitional Justice Advocates in DC 

From September 20-30, we had the immense honor of accompanying survivors and transitional justice advocates Demesia Yat de Xol, of Sepur Zarco, and Maxima Garcia Valey de Ric, of Rabinal. This year, the Maya Achi women of Rabinal and the Maya Q’eqchi’ women of Sepur Zarco were recipients of human rights awards from the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) for their tireless efforts to bring former civil patrollers and military officers to justice for sexual violence that occurred during the internal armed conflict. Our team arranged several meetings with congressional representatives and other government officials, including Representative Norma Torres. A roundtable with the State Department provided a vital space for the women to share their stories of survival and their fight for justice, and as well as their concerns for the future. 

In spite of achieving convictions against those who perpetrated sexual violence against them during the internal armed conflict, the women explained that reparations measures established in the sentences still have not been carried out. Moreover, in the context of democratic backsliding in Guatemala, they expressed their fears as attacks against transitional justice advocates, attorneys, and even judges overseeing these cases continue to intensify. Finally, given the closure of institutions set up in the framework of the Peace Accords, such as the Secretariat for Agrarian Affairs, the women shared their fears about further violent displacement of their communities.

GHRC Organizes Tour to Raise Concerns over Regional Slide into Authoritarianism 

This week, we led a DC tour for human rights defenders from Central America. This coalition–consisting of human rights groups from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua–was formed to address common concerns and trends in the region. In a packed four days, we met with congressional offices, the State Department, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and several DC- based human rights groups. 

Guatemalan representatives with the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH) and Indigenous Peoples’ Law Firm highlighted their concerns regarding the dramatic regression in human rights in Guatemala. In particular, they emphasized the lack of protections for human rights and land defenders, as institutions are overtaken by corrupt forces. The group called for stronger action from the US government, including robust support for civil society and human rights defenders, the suspension of security aid to the region, and the re-evaluation of pending loans in order to ensure compliance with human rights standards.   

Support Our Work

For 40 years, GHRC has been committed to supporting the people of Guatemala as they struggle to defend their rights. Our 40th Anniversary Celebration is scheduled for November 3 at the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, DC. Our founder, Sister Alice Zachmann, will be attending by Zoom. We would love for you to be part of that special evening. 

We will also be honoring the Ixil Authorities and the Chicoyoguito Resistance as the recipients of this year’s Alice Zachmann Human Rights Defender Award. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from these incredibly brave defenders! Email or fill out this form to register.

In honor of our 40th anniversary, we are encouraging donations in multiples of 40. Donate using this link or send us a check to 3321 12th St NE Washington, DC 20017.  

If you can’t attend but would like to support our work, any amount is appreciated!

Guatemala’s Independence Month Marked by Disillusion

On September 12, protesters marched through Guatemala in rejection of upcoming independence day celebrations. Under the slogan, “independence for who,” the united group of Indigenous Authorities, communities in resistance, students, and human rights activists spoke out against the last 201 years of slavery, misery, and impovershment. 

The group convened in the Constitutional Plaza and demanded that the government end the criminalization of Indigenous leaders, journalists, judges, and prosecutors. Echoing previous protests, the group once more called for the resignation of President Giammattei and Attorney General Consuelo Porras, who they blame for piloting the country’s nosedive into corruption and impunity.  

One of the Last Independent Judges Closer to Losing His Immunity 

The case against internationally recognized Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez continued this month. On September 19, Gálvez appeared in a public hearing before the Constitutional Court (CC) to appeal a July 15 decision by the Supreme Court review and possibly remove his judicial immunity. He faces a criminal complaint from head of the Foundation Against Terrorism (FCT) Ricardo Méndez Ruiz, and is accused of abuse of authority, breach of duties, prevarication, and illegal arrests with aggravating circumstances on an ongoing basis. 

This complaint was filed in May, just five days after Judge Gálvez ruled to send nine retired military and police officers to trial for illegal detention, torture, murder and forced disappearance of more than 195 people between 1983 and 1985 in what is referred to as the “Death Squad Dossier” case. Since his ruling–in addition to these legal complaints–Gálvez has been a target of defamation campaigns and numerous death threats via telefone. In response to these threats, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights ratified provisional measures in favor of Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez. It ordered the state of Guatemala to comply with an earlier ruling and “maintain the measures and security plan for Judge Gálvez … and his nuclear family.” The State of Guatemala has until November 21 to respond to the Inter-American Court and demonstrate its compliance with the resolution.  

Ixil Authorities Denounce Aggressions by the Municipality of Nebaj 

On the morning of September 1, the municipality of Nebaj, Quiché, tried to evict the Ixil Indigenous Authorities from their headquarters. Since 2013, the Ixil Authorities or “Indigenous Mayors” of Nebaj have occupied an office in the municipality building, carrying out their essential work as Ancestral Authorities. Without directly communicating with the authorities, the municipality ordered their removal from the office to make room for alleged renovations to the building. When they refused, municipal employees and supporters of the mayor broke down the door, attacked several people inside, and accused them of being “guerrillas” and of “opposing development.” Several documents were stolen during the altercation; their whereabouts are unknown.  

The eviction was suspended by an injunction granted by the local court in favor of the Indigenous authorities. The ancestral authority maintains that the aggression is part of a systematic attack that seeks to eliminate their role as authorities in the region. According to Indigenous Mayor Diego Santiago Ceto, the objective of the latest attack was “to weaken and disappear the figure of B’oq’ol Q’esal Tenam de Naab’a’,” or the “Council of Mayors of the People of Nebaj.” International accompaniment groups, led by GHRC, denounced this act of aggression, calling on the municipality to “restore access to their office so that they can continue their work, ensure the physical integrity of each and every one of its members, as well as safeguard all property and documentation within the office.” 

EU Parliament Holds Public Hearing on Guatemala  

The European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights addressed human rights violations committed by mining corporations in a public hearing held on September 5. Noting a deterioration of conditions in Guatemala since their last visit in 2018, members highlighted their concerns regarding the “criminalization, stigmatization, and violence” against human rights defenders, particularly against Indigenous land defenders. Members highlighted the case of El Estor, sharing their concerns about the aggressions committed against Indigenous leaders last year during the state of siege, as well as the continued terrorization and criminalization of the anti-mining movement.  

Four experts spoke, including journalists Luis Solano and Carlos Choc; Director of Impunity Watch Marlies Stappers; and Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez. All four testified to democratic backsliding in Guatemala, including attacks on the justice system, as well as human rights defenders. In the case of El Estor, Solano highlighted attacks being committed by both State and private entities, which he claimed, “show a pattern of how mines act in Guatemala.” Part of this pattern, as described by Choc, includes “the use of states of siege to control community resistance” and a “politicization of public institutions to favor mining companies.” Choc highlighted his own case, as he faces new charges for his work documenting protests that occurred last October. “I’m a journalist, not a criminal,” he explained. Sadly, he shared that he is one of over 30 people that have been criminalized in El Estor since 2018 for their work defending their ancestral land. Judge Gálvez concluded, connecting the attacks against him to broad based attacks against judicial independence in Guatemala. He asked for more action to be taken by the EU Parliament. Referencing the US State Department’s list of corrupt officials in Central America, he recommended that the EU “adopt something similar” to create consequences for high-level corruption and human rights violations. All four supported another visit from the committee to “see firsthand how much worse it has become in Guatemala.”      

Case Against Chicoyoguito Defenders Suspended Again

On September 8, the case against 21 criminalized defenders from Chicoyoguito was suspended once more. After opening the first hearing in the public trial, Judge Walter Chen ruled to reschedule the hearing for January 23 of next year. Charged with aggravated usurpation, these 21 Q’eqchi defenders were arrested and sent to trial in June of 2021 for a demonstration related to their efforts to reclaim their land which was stolen over 50 years ago. The community explained, “We were looking to hold a peaceful demonstration in Cobán to demand that the State return the territory that was stripped from us 54 years ago, where Military Zone No. 21, today Creompaz, was installed.” 

Currently, there is a criminal process underway against high-ranking military officials who during the internal war in Guatemala used this base as a clandestine detention and execution center. Between 2012 and 2015, the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) carried out 14 exhumations on the site, uncovering the remains of 558 people. The FAFG confirmed that 128 bones belong to persons that were disappeared between 1981 and 1982 in connection with the Creompaz Case.

Leading up to the most recent hearing, the community released a statement, condemning the case against them as “a process of criminalization of social protest” and “an improper use of criminal law to prevent the continuation of protests and demonstrations.” GHRC accompanied the defenders to their hearing and spoke with their attorney Jovita Tzul. “It’s a clear strategy,” she explained in reference to the continuous suspensions in the case, continuing, “these kinds of delays are debilitating for communities and movements. It goes beyond basic judicial delays.”

Public Ministry Reopens Case Against Activists

On September 12, Nanci Sinto and Dulce Archila returned to the tribunal tower in Guatemala for another hearing on their case. Last June, Judge Wendy Coloma closed the criminal case against both activists, citing a lack of evidence presented by the Public Ministry. Both the Public Prosecutor’s Office and Congress, however, appealed the decision before the Third Chamber, which ruled to reopen the case. Now, the two activists could face house arrest or even time in pretrial detention.  

Sinto and Archila are accused of “destruction of the cultural patrimony” for allegedly painting the side of the Congress building during a protest that occurred in November of 2020. Sinto’s attorney condemned the decision to reopen the case as criminalization. 

Judge Rules to Drop Charges Against Journalist in El Estor

On September 13, Q’eqchi journalist Carlos Choc was freed of all charges against him. Accused of “incitement of a crime,” Choc faced a criminal complaint filed by thirteen police officers for his participation in an alleged altercation that occurred between police and anti-mining protesters in El Estor last October. Police claim that Choc and 12 others attacked them, however, video evidence reveals no such attack occurred. In fact, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned the police for  “excessive use of force” against the protesters. Citing a lack of merit in the case, Judge Anibal Arteaga dismissed all charges against him.

As a journalist with the Prensa Comunitaria, Choc has faced years of criminalization and threats, particularly connected to his work  investigating and reporting on the Fenix Mine in El Estor. In 2017, after documenting the death of Q’eqchi fisherman Carlos Chaaz–killed by police during a protest against the mine–Choc was forced to go into hiding. Frontline Defenders condemned this most recent case against him as another attempt to “criminalize the journalistic work of Carlos Ernesto Choc Chub and the work of Prensa Comunitaria.”

Following the verdict, Choc celebrated, saying, “Since January 2022 I have not been able to carry out my work as a journalist, nor move freely. I am very grateful to my lawyers.” Human rights groups welcomed the victory for freedom of the press in the wake of growing attacks against journalists.  Natalie Southwick–Latin America Program Coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists–reflected on the criminalization of Choc and demanded that the Guatemalan government  “stop treating community journalists like criminals for doing their job, and put an end to their campaign to intimidate and threaten the press.” 

The Report is Out! Read Our Findings from the July Emergency Human Rights Delegation to Guatemala

We are thrilled to announce the release of our 2022 Emergency Human Rights Delegation Report now available to read on our website

From July 23-30, 2022, we led an Emergency Human Rights Delegation to Guatemala to document the impacts of the democratic backsliding and destruction of rule of law on human rights defenders. The delegation met with a broad spectrum of defenders, including transitional justice lawyers, journalists, Indigenous land defenders, human rights researchers, accompaniment groups, and the Human Rights Ombudsman. Our group–consisting of human rights experts, workers, and activists from the US–traveled throughout the eastern region of Guatemala and listened to the testimonies of these defenders, all of whom are at risk for their work fighting for human rights in the country. 

Titled “Wounds Reopened: The Impacts of Democratic Backsliding on Human Rights in Guatemala,” the report details the crisis that human rights defenders are facing in Guatemala. It summarizes each meeting with defenders, as well as key trends that we observed, such as–

  • Increased criminalization of human rights defenders;
  • New patterns of violence against defenders;
  • Harassment, intimidation, and defamation, which often prelude this violence;  
  • The failure of the State to protect defenders; and
  • The contribution of the State to human rights abuses across Guatemala, both directly and as a consequence of corruption.

You can read the full report here

Check out the cool video our new Co-Director, Veronica, made!

Mid-Year Data Confirms Worst Fears for Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala 

Mid-year statistics reveal that the human rights situation continues to worsen under the Giammattei administration. On August 23, the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (UDEFEGUA) presented its analysis on the situation for human rights defenders in the first half of 2022. Between January and June, UDEFEGUA recorded 589 aggressions against individuals, organizations, and communities that defend human rights.  UDEFEGUA also demonstrated that under the first 2.5 years of President Alejandro Giammattei’s administration,   more attacks on defenders have been carried out than during the four-year terms of any previous peacetime president. Attacks on human rights defenders have more than doubled since 2019, when the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (known by its Spanish acronym CICIG) was forced out of the country.

In particular, the situation for women has worsened significantly. UDEFEGUA Program Associate Brenda Guillen presented the situation for women human rights defenders, outlining several alarming trends. Of the aggressions registered so far this year, 45 percent have been against women. According to the report, women working within the judicial sector were most attacked, followed by women seeking justice. Female human rights accompaniers were the third most attacked category. She pointed out that the most frequent attacks against women involve the criminalization of women, including defamation, baseless charges, and arbitrary arrest. In a joint report published in June, UDEFEGUA explained that these types of aggressions are “motivated by serious manifestations of misogyny and violence against women.” 

General Coordinator Jorge Santos attributed the rise in attacks to “authoritarian consolidation,” which he identified by six indicators: the capture of institutions; alignment of the three state powers; dismantling of public institutions; increased violence and repression; militarization of civil life; and a rise of conservatism in society. He explained that, “The situation of institutional capture that we are seeing in Guatemala is very serious because it is aimed at guaranteeing impunity and silencing us as civil society.” 

Prominent Journalist, Prosecutor, and Newspaper Employee Arrested

On the night of July 29, police raided the home of internationally renowned journalist José Rubén Zamora and arrested him. Zamora is founder and president of the newspaper El Periodico. Known for its investigative journalism, particularly into corruption in high spheres of government, El Periodico has become a target by pro impunity forces within Guatemala. The newspaper’s offices were also raided that night. 

Special Prosecutor Samari Carolina Gómez Díaz was arrested on the same day and charged with leaking confidential information, in connection with the charges against Zamora. Gómez told reporters that since former head prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval was arbitrarily dismissed by the country’s attorney general last year, she has suffered increasing harassment. She has worked in the Public Ministry with a spotless record for 12 years.  

On August 8, at the initial hearing of Zamora and Gómez, which had been postponed by more than a week, Judge Fredy Raúl Orellana Letona remanded the two to prison to await trial in detention. Zamora is accused of money laundering, blackmail, and influence peddling, charges which he denies. He attributes his arrest to the widening crackdown on freedoms in Guatemala, including freedom of expression.

Zamora’s arrest has been met with national and international outcry. According to Natalie Southwick, Latin America and Caribbean Program Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, “The continued detention of José Rubén Zamora is completely unwarranted and shows that Guatemalan prosecutors are scrambling to find any excuse to justify their actions against a journalist who is critical of the government.” United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about Zamora’s arrest and the legal actions carried out against justice officials in Guatemala. The International Observatory for Human Rights in Guatemala denounced his arrest and demanded his immediate release. Connecting the aggression to worrisome strategy employed by corrupt elites in Guatemala, the Observatory  explained, “These attacks are part of a generalized pattern that has worsened, and that has as a common denominator the use of the criminal justice system to persecute critical voices and those who have contributed to unraveling the networks of corruption in the country.” 

In spite of the international outcry surrounding Zamora’s arrest, Guatemala’s Public Ministry ordered the arrest of Flora Silva, the finance director of El Periodico on August 19. Police raided her home, leading her to suffer a hypertension crisis. She was hospitalized immediately. On August 23, she was transferred to Mariscal Zavala prison following her discharge from the hospital. 

Ombudsman Transition Signifies Final Takeover of Institutions by Corrupt Forces 

After completing his five-year term as Human Rights Ombudsman, which ended on August 20, Jordán Rodas was replaced by lawyer José Alejandro Córdova Herrera. Cordova was elected on July 20, garnering support in the Guatemalan congress from political allies of President Alejandro Giammattei. Human rights groups mourned the loss of what they identified as the “last independent institution” in Guatemala. In addition to his connections to what they call the “Pacto de Corruptos,”or corrupt elites, Cordova has been implicated in high-level cases of corruption but has not been investigated. “The challenge for the new ombudsman is his great closeness to figures in power and whose impunity continues,” explained General Coordinator of UDEFEGUA Jorge Santos. “We hope to see his independence from those figures.” 

Rodas’ work gained him many admirers, as well as enemies. While human rights groups commended his work, in particular his tireless effort to prevent the expulsion of CICIG in 2019, that same effort made him a target for pro impunity groups like the Foundation Against Terrorism (FCT) and other powerful actors. Identified in the State Department’s 2021 Human Rights Report on Guatemala as the group that has filed the most cases against human rights defenders, the FCT has remained steadfast in its villanization of Rodas, claiming his work has fomented “polarization” in Guatemala. Video evidence from a hearing in March reveals a member of the FCT verbally threatening Rodas. In March, FCT president Ricardo Mendez Ruiz followed up on the threat, saying, “Remember that we personally promised you last March 15 to send you to jail as soon as you leave the position of PDH.” 

Rodas entered El Salvador in the early morning hours of August 20, as migration authorities confirm. Rodas, however, has not made an official statement on his plans, other than to state that professional commitments and challenges would keep him out of the country for a while.  If he does choose exile, he will join six Guatemalan journalists and 24 Guatemalan judges and prosecutors who have been forced to flee Guatemala. 

Just Outside the Capital, Maya Poqomam Community Resists Harmful Mining

On July 27, Maya Poqomam community in Santa Cruz de Chinautla celebrated its first month of resistance against harmful gravel mining in its territories. Led by Indigenous Poqomom Authorities, the community established a peaceful resistance against the extraction of sand by the companies Arenera La Primavera and Piedrinera San Luis. According to community members, mining operations have continued in spite of the fact that the mining licenses of the companies have expired. As a result of this mining, significant damage has occurred to the surrounding houses, endangering the lives of the people who live in them, in addition to causing displacement. 

Since its inception, the resistance has been subject to threats from the mining companies, personnel from the municipality, and National Civil Police (PCN). Community members report frequent visits from police officers, who routinely take photos of resistance members and taunt the group. On July 28–while the GHRC Emergency Human Rights Delegation was visiting the site–two police officers arrived, asking for more information about the meeting between GHRC and the resistance. When asked about his view on human rights, one of the officers responded, saying, “My job is to keep order, not human rights.”  

The resistance is calling for the end to mining operations and the definitive cancellation of the licenses. In addition to maintaining a permanent encampment on the road to the mines, Indigenous Authorities have filed a claim to the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) and are continuing to consider other legal avenues. “We are certain that several rights have been violated here, the damage can no longer be hidden, so we are confident that some entity can help us to cancel these licenses,” said the spokesman for the ancestral authorities of Chinautla, Efraín Martínez.

Police Attempt to Evict Communities in Purulhá for the Third Time  

In the early hours of the morning, hundreds of agents of the National Civil Police moved into the communities of Pancoc, Los Encinos and Mojón in the municipality of Purulhá, Baja Verapaz, in an attempt to evict the inhabitants of the communities. Unknown armed actors also entered the community, resulting in one injury by firearm. Community members speculated that the armed actors were hired by large landowners of the San Rafael and San Luis farms who have claimed ownership over Maya Q’eqchi’ and Poqomchi’ territories in the area and have filed several requests for evictions of the communities this year. The eviction was suspended once more, but police forces reportedly stayed in the area. 

This incident marks the third eviction attempt by police in Purulhá this year that has resulted in violence. The community received precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2017 after threats made to them by large landowners in the area. 

Former Special Prosecutor Forced to Stay in Pretrial Detention

On August 12, following an evidentiary hearing, Judge Sergio Mena Samayoa ruled to send Virginia Laparra, the former head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI) in Quetzaltenango, to trial. Laparra–who was arrested in February as part of a string of arrests against anti-impunity attorneys–faces trumped-up charges, including  “abuse of authority.” Her trial has been set for November 28 of this year.

Laparra’s legal team filed a request for measures which would allow her to await trial outside of prison. The request for these measures, however, was not heard at Laparra’s late August hearing, where the judges recused themselves because of an alleged friendship they had with the plaintiffs. Laparra will remain in the Matamoros prison, where she continues to be held in solitary confinement, with access to sunlight for just one hour a day. She has received support from groups nationally and internationally, including the US State Department. In a statement released in March, the US State Department denounced the intentional criminalization of justice sector workers in Guatemala, which has revealed a “disturbing trend of corruption and the weakening of democratic institutions and processes in Guatemala.”  

GHRC Delegation Visits Guatemala to Document Growing  Repression

From July 23-30, GHRC led a delegation of Guatemala scholars and human rights professionals and activists to investigate the alarming regression in respect for human rights and the rule of law in Guatemala. The Emergency Human Rights Delegation met with human rights defenders throughout the country, as well as journalists, witnesses in transitional justice cases, and US embassy and Guatemalan officials. Three-time delegation participant Andrea Doll told US embassy staff, “This is the worst I’ve seen Guatemala. It’s painful to see the immense suffering. Something needs to be done before it gets even worse.” 

According to General Coordinator of UDEFEGUA Jorge Santos, “The [human rights]  situation is unprecedented in this century.” Defenders shared their concerns with delegates, including the role of the US. “It’s not that we don’t appreciate the support from the US, but we’re worried its messaging is not matching its actions,” explained Hector Reyes of the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH). Former Human Rights Ombudsman Jordan Rodas told delegates, “Corrupt actors need to face stronger consequences. They need to feel the economic impact of their actions with sanctions against them.” The delegation will be releasing a formal report in September, revealing our findings and including recommendations for the US government and the international community.   

Alert: Municipal Government of Nebaj Attempts to Evict Ixil Indigenous Authorities from their Office


This gallery contains 4 photos.

GHRC, Protection International, and the Human Rights Defenders Project joint statement condemning actions of aggression against the Ixil Authorities in their office in Nebaj English Translation Below August 31, 2022 On the afternoon of August 31, the Ixil Indigenous Authorities … Continue reading