President-elect Perez Molina announced the appointment of three former Kaibiles to serve as Minister of Defense, Commander in Chief, and Sub-Commander in Chief—Noé Anzueto, René Casados Ramirez, and Manuel López Ambrosio, respectively. All three appointees have had very close ties to the Kaibiles.
InSight Crime looks at the achievements of Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, who has been responsible for some significant progress in Guatemala’s justice system and several high-profile arrests. However, it appears the Paz y Paz’s position may be under fire by the incoming president, Otto Perez Molina. While, Perez Molina announced this week his full intention to maintain her post, it remains to be seen how that promise will play out in the coming year.
Guatemalan authorities announced the dismantling of a human sex trafficking ring that lured young Guatemalan women to work as prostitutes in Jordan. The women were promised employment upon arrival in Jordan, but were instead sold for sexual exploitation.
The U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala, Arnold Chacon, commented Tuesday that the U.S. would guarantee the safety and security of Alfonso Portillo through the extradition process, but reminded Guatemalan authorities that his transfer is their responsibility. Chacon also hailed the recent successful captures of narco-traffickers by Guatemalan authorities, mentioning U.S. involvement in the operations and his support for the continuation of such activities. The new ambassador commented that it would be ideal to approve the implementation of a C4I system in Guatemala to prevent the flow of narco-trafficking. Chacon met with Otto Perez Molina Wednesday.
Yuri Melini, environmental activist and director Center of Legal, Environmental and Social Action (CALAS), announced that, during this past presidential term, human rights violations against environmentalists increased by 12%. A report released by CALAS documents 96 total cases of attacks, threats, assassinations, injuries, defamation, illegal detention and unlawful searches. Melini argued that actions against environmentalists frequently go unreported or underreported.
The Public Prosecutor’s office announced the creation of an agency to investigate crimes committed by “non-state armed groups” during the armed conflict as part of the Special Cases Unit for Human Rights.
800 families from 14 different communities remain displaced in the Polochic Valley after the violent evictions carried out by the sugar cane company Chabil Utzaj last year. Communities whose land was taken and crops destroyed have now reached a level of starvation and desperation. Now community members find themselves insulted and infuriated by the State’s meager food distribution which comes 6 months after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights called for measures to ensure food, health, housing, and security for the 800 families. The food delivered by the State is barely enough to last 2-3 days for the average family. The community believes that if such trends are a signal of a return to the violent, abusive past, they will not hesitate to take up arms to defend themselves and their land.