Guatemala News Update February 9-13

Former Dictator Ríos Montt Could Stand Trial for Dos Erres Massacre

Guatemala’s Constitutional Court declared on February 6 that former military dictator Efraín Ríos Montt could be prosecuted for the “Dos Erres” massacre. Nearly 300 people were murdered in 1982 in the village of Dos Erres by the Guatemalan military’s special forces, the Kaibile, under the de facto administration of Ríos Montt.

Obama’s Central America Rescue Plan Will Only Make Life There Worse

This article argues that the “Alliance for Prosperity” plan, which promotes economic development in Central America as a mechanism to curb migration, could have adverse effects in the region. By promoting spending on infrastructure and foreign investment, the plan could actually exasperate the problems that vulnerable local communities face when dealing with rapid macroeconomic development. Continue reading

GHRC Congratulates FAMDEGUA on 22 Years of Searching for Truth, Justice, and Memory

On the 22nd anniversary of its founding, GHRC would like to recognize the important and brave work carried out by the women and men of the Asociación Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos de Guatemala (The Relatives of the Disappeared and Detained in Guatemala), also known by its Spanish acronym, FAMDEGUA.

Members and supporters of FAMDEGUA attend a mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral to commemorate the organization's 22-year anniversary.

Members and supporters of FAMDEGUA attend a mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral to commemorate the organization’s 22-year anniversary.

Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: December 7-13

Court endorses community referendums on mining

The Constitutional Court ruled that municipal governments must respect the results of consultas comunitarias (community referendums) on whether mining projects can be developed in their towns. The court also affirmed that the results of community referendums should be submitted to the national authorities who grant mining licenses.

The court’s ruling rejected the appeal of unconstitutionality regarding a November 2012 community referendum concerning Tahoe Resource’s San Rafael Mine in the municipality of La Villa de Mataquescuintla, Jalapa. The results of this vote revealed that 10,000 people opposed the mine, while only 100 people supported it. The court based its ruling on the ILO Convention 169, which guarantees indigenous communities the right to consultation. In response to the court’s decision, the Guatemalan Chamber of Industry (CIG) and the Union of Extractive Industries (GEE) maintained that community referendums should be used as an indicator to inform decision makers, but not a binding determinant in approving mining projects.

Communities protest Marlin Mine

Beginning last Friday, members from various communities demonstrated against Goldcorp’s mining in Sipacapa, San Marcos by blocking the highway at two different points. This protest came in response to the granting of new licenses for exploration in San Carlos Sija. According to the company, protesters held 35 workers from the Marlin Mine to demand that company authorities provide them a new water source, as mining in the area has contaminated and dried up their water source. Community member Basilio Bámaca assured that no person was being held; rather, the community was just warning miners that from now on they would take action. Representatives of the Marlin Mine said they will help the community access safe water, but added that the disturbances were provoked by outsiders and accused residents of violating the right to free movement and commerce.

Community of Monte Olivo attacked

On Sunday, individuals connected to the Israeli company Energía Limpia de Guatemala (ELG) attacked residents of the Maya Q’eachi’ community Monte Olivo with machetes. Four community members were gravely wounded. The community has been in opposition to the company’s construction of the Santa Rita hydroelectric dam.

Continue reading

Weekly News Roundup

February 16th-February 23rd

  • Mixco will be protected by 420 new agents. President Perez Molina announced that a new police station will be created in Mixco to combat insecurity.  It is a pilot program that includes members of the National Police (PNC), the army, and support from the Municipal Transit Police.
  • Change of prosecutor in genocide case. Prosecutor Manuel Vasquez will no longer be in charge of the genocide case against Efraín Ríos Montt.  Vasquez was promoted to head of the district prosecutor’s office in Sacatepéquez.  He will be replaced with Orlando Salvador López, who worked with Vasquez on the case.
  • Second lawsuit brought against guerilla.  The lawsuit is brought by Telma Marcos Bernal, an indigenous woman, against the commanders of the Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres (EGP) for kidnapping and murder.  Bernal is bringing cases of genocide against 20 individuals who include human rights defenders, family members of the Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, and the sister of ex-president Álvaro Colom.
  • Judge in Ríos Montt case steps down.  The judge in charge of the genocide trial of Efrain Ríos Montt stepped down upon requests of the defense lawyers.  Judge Carol Patricia Flores announced her decision just before a hearing to decide if the charges should be dropped due to an amnesty law that was passed in 1986.  The new judge is Miguel Ángel Gálvez and he suspended the proceedings until March.
  • Retired general to be tried for Dos Erres massacre.  Oral debates will begin the legal proceedings against former general Pedro Pimentel, who was the head of the Kaibiles that carried out the Dos Erres Massacre in 1982.  He is being charged with assassination and crimes against humanity.

International News

  • Latin America divided by drug legalization debate.  President Perez Molina has reopened a debate within Latin America about the legalization of drugs as a way to combat narcotrafficking.  The US has rejected the proposal, and officials in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Mexico have also expressed doubts.  The article discusses the range of opinions held by various leaders in Latin America.

Weekly News Round-Up

Weekly Round-Up: 12/11 – 12/16

National News

  • President-elect Pérez Molina met with Mexican President Felipe Calderón yesterday to discuss their collaboration on a variety of issues.  In a press conference following the meeting, Pérez Molina reported that they had discussed several issues, including the creation of a civil intelligence platform to share information regarding the organized crime and narco-trafficking and a possible ‘consular pass’ that would allow Guatemalan immigrants to travel through Mexico without a visa.
  • Fifty more names have been added to the list of those accused of violent actsduring their supposed involvement with the leftist guerilla movement of Guatemala’s armed conflict.  Theodore Michael Plocharski, a Guatemalan citizen responsible for the accusations, is claiming that the accused were involved in the kidnapping, torture and assassination of eight diplomats.  The list includes human rights defenders and social activists Sandra Torres Casanova, Orlando Blanco and Marielos Monzón.
  • In an interview with ElPeriodico, Theodore Plocharski comments on his motives for accusing over 50 people with links to the assassination of diplomatsand association with the leftist guerilla movements during the armed conflict.  Plocharski said he wants the truth to be heard and justice to be served and argued that it is time the Attorney General investigates crimes committed by the guerrillas as well as the military.  He also commented that he is not necessarily proposing legal action against the individuals on the list, but rather against the guerilla entities—ORPA, EGP, PGT and FAR.

    Michael Plocharski, denunciante. (Foto Prensa Libre: Erick Avila)

International News