Guatemala News Update: May 19-23

Violent Eviction at La Puya

On Friday, after more than two years of non-violent resistance against a gold mine, the communities in resistance of “La Puya” were evicted from their blockade at the entrance to the mine. Police arrived early in the morning to escort mining company trucks and heavy machinery. By the afternoon, hundreds of police — including many in full riot gear — moved in on the protesters with tear gas and flash bombs, beating those who refused to move. Over 20 people were injured.

Just days before, attempts at negotiation were made, but ultimately stalled when the government refused to allow the negotiations to be recorded. The Vice-Minister of the Interior insinuated that the government had agreed to accompany the mine equipment because the dialogue was effectively “broken.” Community members at La Puya reiterate that they want to complete the negotiation process with the government, but with transparency.

Although machinery was successfully brought into the mine, those at the Puya have already stated they are committed to continue their resistance. GHRC will continue to monitor the situation and support communities’ rights. Continue reading

Guatemalan Congress Seeks Impunity for Genocide

This week 87 members of the Guatemalan Congress passed a resolution denying the existence of genocide during the country’s internal armed conflict. The statement is not legally binding, but is the latest attempt to delegitimize the genocide case and create a de facto amnesty; it also raises concerns that the Congress may be looking to legislate new amnesty provisions.

The resolution was proposed by Congressman Luis Fernando Pérez of the PRI (formerly FRG), the party founded by General Efraín Ríos Montt, who was tried last year on charges of genocide. The statement describes national discussion surrounding genocide as polarizing, as well as an impediment to reconciliation. The resolution also states, “We are committed to study the legislation issued within the framework of the peace agreements.” Continue reading

Commemorating the Genocide Sentence; Guatemala’s New Attorney General

Today, on the one-year anniversary of the genocide sentence, we reaffirm our solidarity with the thousands of Ixil victims and survivors who have witnessed so much suffering, and with those who continue fighting for justice and dignity.

On May 10, 2013, Guatemalan courts handed down an 80-year sentence against former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide and war crimes against the Maya Ixil people — a sentence that was a historic step for Guatemala, and for the global community working for justice.

The verdict not only represented justice for the 1,771 Ixil men, women and children assassinated between March 1982 and August 1983, but also for their surviving family members and the thousands of victims from across the country of the internal armed conflict. It signified, too, the possibility of justice for victims who had buried their traumas in silence for more than 30 years, and endured the indifference of a society that has gone so far as to deny that the events even occurred.

A Mayan ceremony performed outside the court asking for justice; General Rios Montt hours before a verdict was handed down Continue reading

May 10: Commemorating the One-Year Anniversary of the Genocide Sentence

(Información de los eventos está disponible abajo en español)

On May 10, people around the world will commemorate the one-year anniversary of the conviction of Ríos Montt for genocide perpetuated against the Maya Ixil people during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. The sentence was delivered by Judge Yassmín Barrios, of the High Risk Crimes Court “A”, and convicted Montt to 80 years in prison for genocide and war crimes. Continue reading

Weekly News Round-Up, March 6-17

Killing of human rights defender
On March 8, 2013, human rights defender and trade union leader Carlos Hernández Mendoza was killed. He was actively engaged in struggling for the right to free, prior and informed consent for indigenous communities whose lives and livelihoods are affected by large-scale dam construction and other projects in the region.

Ex military commissioner on trial for disappearance of student
On March 11, the High Risk Tribunal B (Tribunal Primero B de Mayor Riesgo) initiated a trial against ex military commissioner Isidro Cardona Osorio for the disappearance of a student in Chiquimula in 1982. He is charged with aggravated unlawful detention, abuse of authority, kidnapping, crimes against humanity and forced disappearance.

Continue reading

Carta firmada por 50 organizaciones para verdad, justicia y reparación en el caso de genocidio

La verdad, la justicia y la reparación deben prevalecer en el juicio por genocidio en Guatemala

Organizaciones del continente instan a un adecuado proceso, con las debidas garantías.

18 de marzo de 2013- El próximo 19 de marzo dará inicio en Guatemala la audiencia pública en el juicio que se sigue en contra del General en retiro Efraín Ríos Montt y de su ex director de los servicios de inteligencia militar, también General en retiro José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, como presuntos autores intelectuales de genocidio y crímenes de lesa humanidad (asesinatos, desapariciones forzadas, violaciones sexuales, tortura) en contra de casi dos mil personas, la mayoría de ellas mayas Ixil. Los hechos ocurrieron desde marzo de 1982 hasta agosto de 1983, cuando Ríos Montt ocupó el poder en su país.

En el proceso judicial, impulsado por el Ministerio Público, figuran como abogados directores de la parte querellante, la Asociación para la Justicia y la Reconciliación (AJR), los abogados del Bufete Jurídico de Derechos Humanos y del Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos (CALDH). Quienes además están siendo apoyados por Abogados sin fronteras Canadá, todos en condición de representantes de las víctimas. La trascendencia de este proceso –inédito en Guatemala- implica el desahogo de aproximadamente 140 testimonios de víctimas y de la comparecencia de unos 70 peritos expertos.

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Weekly News Round Up Feb. 18-22

Genocide Trial date moved from August 14th to March 19th
The trial for José Efraín Ríos Montt and José Rodriguez has officially been rescheduled. The trial is now set to begin on March 19th 2013. Judge Jazmín Barrios rejected a recusal presented by Ríos Montt’s defense against the First Court of High Risk.

US Southern Command General John Kelly makes an official visit to Guatemala
The General arrived on February 20th for a two day visit to the country. According to diplomatic sources, the purpose of the trip is to analyze and discuss issues of bilateral security, such as drug trafficking and organized crime, with Guatemalan officials.

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Weekly News Roundup

August 31-Sept 13

  • President Otto Pérez to attend dinner hosted by the Obamas During his visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, President Otto Pérez will attend a gala dinner put on by President Obama and the First Lady on September 24th. He is also scheduled to meet with former President Bill Clinton on the 24th about the program Habre Cero. The following day he will speak at the UN General Assembly.
  • Military march in favor of Rios Montt  According to the General’s defense lawyer the purpose of the march is to demand an independent judiciary, that judges do not interfere with the proceedings and that the Law of National Reconciliation be applied and forgiveness be given. Rios Montt’s defense attorney has filed a claim of unconsitutionality  before the Constitutional Court to prevent his prosecution for the Dos Erres massacres.
  • US military aid: yesterday and today Plaza Publica studies the training, military aid, and arms sales between the US and Guatemala and the legal conflicts and barriers established by both countries since 1976.
  • Human rights violations in development projects The authors of the book “Public Policies, Human Rights and Popular Resistance Processes between 2003-2011” stated that since 2003 more than 1 million people have participated in community consultations, every time rejecting the installment of mining and development projects in their area.