Union Member Killed

On November 9, around 3:00 PM, Eliseo Villatoro Cardona, a member of the executive committee of the Organized Municipal Workers Union of Tequisate (SEMOT), in Escuintla, was assassinated in Zone 2 of Tequisate.  He was riding his motorcycle, headed home, when two pursuers, also on motorcycles, shot and wounded him.  Seeing that he continued to try to flee, in spite of his wounds, they killed him.

According to Cerigua, SEMOT had received threats and had been pressured by the municipality of Tequisate.  These measures of pressure violate the right to organize guaranteed under Guatemalan law and by the International Labor Organization (Convention 87). The municipality had reportedly stopped paying the salaries of the unionized workers some months earlier. Eliseo Villatoro Cardona is the third union member killed in Guatemala this year, according to the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.


UDEFEGUA Releases Year-To-Date Human Rights Report

The Unity for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (UDEFEGUA) has released its human rights report covering the first ten months of 2016. Between January 1 and October 31, eleven human rights defenders were assassinated. Union members, defenders of the environment, and journalists were the most heavily targeted groups. The most common forms of attack were defamation and intimidation. See the full report in Spanish here.  

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Journalist and his wife shot to death in Coatepeque

Journalist Hamilton Roelí Hernández Vásquez, 28, and his wife Ermelinda González Lucas, 35, were killed in a shooting on Saturday November 5th. The National Civil Police (PNC) reported that the bodies were found on the road leading from Coatepeque to Flores Costa Cuca, Quetzaltenango.

According to the Diario Digital, Hernández Vásquex worked in a local radio station as a news broadcaster. The motive for the attack is so far unknown; Public Ministry spokeswoman Julia Barreda has said at this time the proceedings have been made to begin an investigation.

“Calls came in alerting [us] that two people were found on the edge of a dirt road on the Coatepeque highway, upon arriving at the location we found that the victims had died some hours earlier, both had several bullet wounds in their heads,” said Cecilio Jackal, spokesman of the local fire department.

Information given to firefighters at the scene stated that Hernández Vásquez had covered an event on Saturday night, and left the area on his motorcycle, on his way to pick up his wife.

Neighbors were the first to notify police of the shooting. Official spokesperson for the PNC, Jorge Chinchilla, stated that the victims were found at 5:00 am.  

“Hernández Vásquez had at least three gunshot wounds in the back of his head, and Lucas González had two, according to witnesses.

“The guild once again suffers the death of another colleague. This raises warning signs, since last year three murders were recorded, while in 2016 with the death of Hernández Vásquez, the number has risen to nine. Each time, we move up on the scale of countries where it is a risk to practice journalism,” said Ileana Alamilla of the Association of Journalists of Guatemala (APG).

By October, 76 complaints had been registered in the Fiscal Unit for Crimes against Journalists, according to the latest report of Journalists Observatory, part of the Center for Informative Reports on Guatemala (Cerigua). Cerigua has reported 47 attacks on the guild to the Inter American Press Association (IAPA)

Within a month the number rose, according to Alamilla, and with this case, there are now 55 cases that include allegations of threats, assaults, intimidation and censorship on journalists. According to the Diario Digital, Alamilla stated, “There will be many cases that are not related to the practice as such, but records are still in process, which the Public Ministry should determine. It is necessary that investigations and cases of judicialization be sped up. This year, as in others, cases are repeated in the departments.”

Ivan Velasquez, head of the International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG), confirmed that they support the investigation of the two assassinated journalists, which could be tied to organizations that are already being investigated.

Note: The number of murders of journalists varies is reported at 7, while other sources report numbers as high as 11.

Guatemala News: October 29 – November 4

The OIM recommends a gender perspective to Guatemalan migration analysis

The OIM (International Organization for Migration) has recommended an inclusion of studying of women perspective in regards to migration. Women are exposed to risks such as sexual abuse, kidnapping, extortion, amongst many others. It is important to understand the effects this has to reduce the levels and prevent dangers traditionally faced by migrant women. Jorge Peraza, Head of the Mission, urged governments to implement accompanying measures and integration in favor of returnees, if they are to be deported to their home countries.

All clear for territorial referendum with Belize

Guatemala celebrates the clearing for a referendum on its’ territorial dispute with Belize. In 2008, the two countries agreed to submit their dispute to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, but without the populations endorsement of the pact in referendums, it was not possible to implement an accord.

Last week, the Guatemalan congress ratified the revision for a protocol allowing non-simultaneous plebiscites, which had been signed by both parties in 2015. The government will now be able to educate the public on the issue, and decide on a date to hold the referendum.

Guatemala News: October 22 – October 28

Murder of local mayor and his daughter in border town links corruption with drug trafficking

Guatemalan mayor Carlos Darinel Aguirre and his 12-year-old daughter were assassinated on the 25th of October, highlighting his former alleged links to a drug trafficking group. This link characterizes the relationships between elites and criminal groups in Guatemala. Aguirre had previously been tied to drug trafficking group Huistas, a group that continues to yield great power in the Northern Huehuetetango region.16-10-27-Carlos-Aguirre-2

Ex-minister Pavel Centeno shoots prosecutors, commits suicide

The former Minister of Finance took his own life after a shoot-out against an agent of the National Civil Police (PNC) and a public prosecutor. He was due to be arrested in relation to money laundering, and was one of several cases that had taken part in a laundering scheme.

Guatemala News: October 15 – October 21

Guatemalan Women Demand Respect for Rights, End to Femicides

On Wednesday October 19th, a group of women held a sit-in in the caProtesta de Ni una menos en Guatemalapital’s Constitution Plaza as part of the protest “Ni una menos”. Originating in Argentina in 2015, as the result of a young girl that was violated and killed the movement against gender-based violence has grown throughout the Latin American and Central American region. The demands stem from the thousands of murders of women that go unpunished, and the domestic violence complaints that are failed to be addressed. The demands in different Latin American countries demand institutions provide protection for women.

Migrants From The Northern Triangle Will Be Able To Work In Mexico For Up To 6 Months

There will be an opportunity for Northern Triangle workers to work in the agricultural and services sector in Mexico for up to 180 days, as part of a trial period to deal with the increased numbers of migrants hoping to head towards the United States. The National Employment Services say they will work to prevent violations of human rights and labor stakeholders. 

Government Initiatives Vary From Trivial To Funny

Some of the recent bills brought forwards by members of the legislature, which vary from trivial to funny, are highlighting the detachment of Congressmen from the national reality, say political scientists. Some of these bills include castration for sexual misconduct, the legalization of marijuana, and the inclusion of animals in the legislature to emphasize animal cruelty points.



Angelica Choc, Mayan Q’eqchi’ human rights defender suffers intimidation

As GHRC we manifest our concern before the intimidation that Angelica Choc suffered on
the night of September 16, when unknown persons shot at her house several times.

Via Rights Action: ¨Just after midnight, Friday September 16, 2016, shots were fired at the home of Angelica Choc, a Mayan Q’eqchi’ human rights leader and community defender in El Estor, department of Izabal, Guatemala, while she slept inside with her youngest son and an adopted daughter.¨