Guatemala News Update: August 4-7

‘Obnoxious’ La Puya Members Will Not Make the Gold Mine Go Away, CEO Says

Vice News

Vice News

In a Vice News article, Jeff Abbott reports on the recent victory won by La Puya in a local Guatemalan court and his interview with Dan Kappes, CEO of mining company Kappes, Cassiday, & Associates (KCA), while on his recent trip to Guatemala.

Despite the court’s ruling that KCA had obtained an invalid construction license and its order for the company to suspend all construction at El Tambor within 15 days, Kappes stated in the interview that, “the construction license is a moot point.” In addition to claiming that the company had in fact carried out a consultation with the community, Kappes also asserted: “I guess the protesters think that if they are obnoxious enough, the mine will go away.”

Leading up to the 15-day deadline, GHRC delivered an open letter to KCA with over 2,200 signatures, demanding that the company comply with the court decision. Despite these actions, KCA has as of now decided to continue operations at the mine.

GHRC will continue to support La Puya, and urge KCA to abide by Guatemalan law.

5 Guatemalan Soldiers Detained Following Leaked Video

Police in Guatemala have detained five soldiers on abuse of authority charges after a video circulated on social media showing them beating two teenagers. The incident occurred on July 26 after an army patrol received a report from neighbors that the minors in the video were allegedly drinking and assaulting people, according to army spokesperson Hugo Rodriguez. The video shows the five soldiers repeatedly kicking the boys in the stomach, slapping them, and pulling them off the ground by their hair, among other forms of abuse. According to the article, the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (PDH) opened an investigation of the two soldiers, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office stated that it will also initiate an investigation.

Land Rights Victory for Poqomchi’ Community in Alta Verapaz

Upside Down World

Upside Down World

Nearly 300 Poqomchi’ Maya families residing in the Primavera communities of Alta Verapaz have won a significant victory in their fight for land rights. On July 14, community representatives and the Guatemalan Land Fund signed documents to officially recognize three communities as the owners of the approximately 800 hectares of land where they have been residing for over 200 years.

The Secretary of Agrarian Affairs oversaw the titling of the land to the communities, after the land had been occupied by Maderas Filips Dias/Eco-Tierra, a logging company, and various other transnational companies harvesting palm oil and sugar cane without the consent of the community. Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: July 27-31

Victory for La Puya: “Communities struggling against mining win major victory in Guatemala”

This Upside Down World article describes the July 15 victory for the environmental movement ‘La Puya’ when Judge Angelica Noemi Tellez Hernandez ruled in favor of the nonviolent community resistance. The judge ordered Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA) to suspend the construction of all infrastructure projects at its El Tambor mine in San Pedro Ayampuc.

GHRC has been supporting communities through a Change.org campaign, calling on KCA to comply with the court sentence. You can also read more about the court ruling on our blog.

Guatemalan Reporters Subjected to Increased Violence

The Association of Guatemalan Reporters (La Asociación de Periodistas de Guatemala) stated that it condemns the increase in aggression against reporters in the year 2015, and denounced the “constant intent to sabotage their informative work.” The CICIG is aware of the the influx in aggression and has expressed concern about this phenomenon.

La Tribuna

Ríos Montt Retrial Halted Once Again

Rios Montt was ordered on Saturday by a Guatemalan court to be transferred to a national hospital for additional psychiatric observation; the decision rejects a prior medical report conducted by Guatemala’s National Forensics Institute (Inacif) that found Ríos Montt senile, and thus unfit for trial. At the last minute, Montt’s scheduled transfer was blocked by a legal maneuver on the part of his defense attorneys, again halting the proceedings of the retrial for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Read more about the latest developments in the case in Spanish. Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: June 8-12

Guatemala’s Supreme Court Opens the Door for the Prosecution of Pérez Molina

The Supreme Court has approved for congress to decide whether to remove President Pérez Molina’s immunity from prosecution for possible involvement in the “La Linea” and IGSS corruption scandals. Should Perez Molina be put on trial, his possible prosecution would essentially result in his impeachment. 

The Upcoming 2015 Elections

In this Saturday, May 30, 2015 photo, protesters carry a fake coffin with a effigy of Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina during a protest to demand his resignation in Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo) (The Associated Press)

In this Saturday, May 30, 2015 photo, protesters carry a fake coffin with a effigy of Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina during a protest to demand his resignation in Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo) (The Associated Press)

A recent poll by Costa Rican firm Borge y Asociados indicates that while conservative candidate Manuel Baldizón is still the favorite to win the upcoming presidential election, comedian Jimmy Morales is gaining support. Morales is seen as an anti-establishment candidate with little ties to Guatemala City, which could benefit him with the recent public outcry over government corruption. Morales is running as a member of the right-wing party, Frente de Convergencia Nacional, which has ties to the military. However, many express their doubt in Morales’ ability to lead as president. He has also recently made controversial comments about the past internal conflict in the country, including his denial that genocide was committed against the Maya Ixil people. Continue reading

Public Forum on Genocide in Guatemala: The Future of the Trial against Ríos Montt and Rodríguez Sánchez

Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF), Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC), International Platform against Impunity, Latin American Studies at George Mason University, Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) are please to invite you to a public forum on
Genocide in Guatemala: The Future of the Trial against Ríos Montt and Rodríguez Sánchez
Featuring:

Claudia Paz y Paz
Georgetown Law and former Attorney General of Guatemala

Francisco Soto
Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH)

Edwin Camil
Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH)

Edgar Pérez
Human Rights Legal Office (Bufete Jurídico de Derechos Humanos)

Jorge Santos
International Center for Human Rights Research (CIIDH)

Claudia Samayoa
Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA)

Marcia Aguiluz
Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)

and moderated by

Jo-Marie Burt
George Mason University and WOLA Senior Fellow

Friday, October 31, 2014
9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
2nd floor, Room B and C
1779 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

To RSVP, please click here. For more information please contact Ashley Davis at +1 (202) 797-2171 or adavis@wola.orgThe event will be held in Spanish.
On May 10, 2013, the ex-dictator of Guatemala José Efraín Ríos Montt was sentenced to 80 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the extrajudicial execution of 1,771 indigeous Ixil Mayans between 1982 and 1983. Just ten days later, the Constitutional Court, under pressure from business and military sectors, overturned part of the proceedings, thereby nullifying the verdict. Since then the genocide case has been in a holding pattern. The tribunal now in charge of the case announced last year that it would reopen the case in January 2015. The world will be watching as Guatemala struggles to pursue accountability for the crimes of the past.

Speaking at this event are members of Guatemalan civil society and former Attorney General of Guatemala Claudia Paz y Paz, who created space in the Public Prosecutor’s Office for victims of Guatemala’s armed conflict to access truth and justice after more than three decades. The speakers will discuss the legal status of the genocide proceedings, the political environment and how it influences the legal situation, the effects of the stalled proceedings on the victims, and the status of the petition filed by the victims before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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

Organizaciones Internacionales Condenan Suspensión de la Jueza Yassmín Barrios en Guatemala

(In English below)

7 de abril de 2014 — El pasado viernes, el Tribunal de Honor del Colegio de Abogados y Notarios de Guatemala (CANG) notificó la resolución de fecha 9 de enero de 2014 en la cual se acuerda la suspensión temporal como abogada de la jueza Yassmín Barrios por el plazo de un año. La jueza Barrios preside el Tribunal A de Mayor Riesgo y en tal condición conoció del proceso en contra de los generales en retiro José Mauricio Rodríguez y Efraín Ríos Montt por el delito de genocidio y delitos contra la humanidad en perjuicio del pueblo Ixil.

La decisión del Tribunal de Honor se origina en una denuncia que presentó el abogado Moisés Galindo, defensor del imputado José Mauricio Rodríguez, debido a que el 19 de marzo del año 2013, el Tribunal A de Mayor Riesgo le ordenó asumir la defensa técnica de Ríos Montt ante diversas prácticas dilatorias provocadas por los abogados de este último. El abogado Galindo no estuvo de acuerdo con la decisión del Tribunal de Mayor Riesgo y por lo tanto acusó a la jueza Barrios ante el CANG de haberlo irrespetado y humillado públicamente.

El Tribunal de Honor del CANG acogió los argumentos del abogado Galindo y concluyó que la la jueza Barrios incurrió en una falta grave que atenta contra las normas de la ética profesional. Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: November 9-15

Peasant farmers march for major reforms

On Wednesday, thousands of people from 20 departments marched for reforms concerning land and energy in Guatemala. Organized by the National Committee of Peasant Farmers, the marchers demanded land reform, nationalization of electricity, and a halt to mineral exploitation in their communities. In total, about 40,000 people participated, and the march lasted for seven hours. Smaller protests were also registered in other parts of the country.

Further delay in Ríos Montt trial

The First Board of Appeals’ Penal Branch cannot yet determine the merits of the final judgment made by the Constitutional Court regarding whether Decree Law 8-86 for amnesty applies to Efrain Ríos Montt. The Constitutional Court must send the document to the Supreme Court of Justice, which will then be sent on to the First Board. After the First Board receives the document, it will have five days to answer the Constitutional Court’s question on amnesty.

In an opinion piece for Al Jazeera, Lauren Carasik expresses concern for the likelihood that these delays will allow Montt to avoid justice and incur financial and emotional costs for the victims, witnesses, and lawyers. She also discusses the illegitimacy of possible amnesty as well as the consequences that amnesty would have on Guatemala’s fragile justice system.

Continue reading

News Update: September 21-27

Ex-police chief sentenced to 40 years

Hector Bol de la Cruz, chief of police from 1983-85, was convicted in the 1984 kidnapping and disappearance of student union leader Fernando Garcia. The court also sentenced former senior police officer Jorge Gomez to 40 years for his role in the kidnapping.

Former Kabil Standing Trial in U.S. for Lying on Citizenship Application

Federal prosecutors are accusing Jorge Sosa, a former Kabile, of lying on his citizenship application by concealing his involvement in the 1982 Dos Erres massacre that left over 200 people dead. Sosa, who is married to an American, was originally denied asylum in 1985. If convicted, Sosa could be stripped of his United States citizenship and face 15 years in prison. Guatemalan authorities will seek his extradition to charge him with crimes against humanity as well.

Guatemala to Rent Drones for Video Surveillance

The Interior Ministry announced that in 2014 it will rent a fleet of drones, for video surveillance. The Ministry stated that the drones would be used in military and security capacities. They will permit the government to, among other things, monitor drug trafficking along the country’s borders, criminals and criminal activities, and protests.

Continue reading

News Update: September 7-20

Residents of San José Nacahuil say police responsible for massacre

On September 7, 11 were killed and 15 injured after gunmen opened fire at a cantina in the indigenous village of San José Nacahuil, San Pedro Ayampuc. Though officials blame the attack on gang violence, families of the victims report that police are responsible and call for officials to hold them responsible.

Analysis following this tragedy has indicated the possible connection to the peaceful non-violent resistance at “La Puya,” which community members of Nacahuil are involved in. One theory is that the massacre was carried out to justify militarizing the community and providing security to the mining project, which has been delayed for over a year because of the community’s peaceful resistance known as La Puya. Representatives of La Puya note that this event comes after their peaceful, non-violent resistance has been facing intimidation from police patrols since August 31, and that in the past events like this one have come before repressive measures against La Puya.

The Interior Minister is evaluating whether to place a police station in San José Nacahuil in the future. The police left the village around 2004 due to local sentiment that the patrol was causing more insecurity. Continue reading

News Update: July 25-August 19

Journalist shot in Guatemala

Journalist Fredy Rodas, who works for Sonora Es La Noticia radio and is a collaborator with several other media outlets, was shot at least three times as he was going home in the city of Mazatenango. He had previously received a threat on the telephone.

The man accused of the attack against Rodas has now been captured by Guatemalan Security forces.  The man they captured is Marvin Cruz Ordonez, who is 19 years old.

Because of the attack, members of the Guatemalan Journalist Association complained about the situation of insecurity and violence toward journalists.  The representatives of the Association requested that President Otto Perez Molina give an interview to present the cases of journalists that have been killed and attacked.  UNESCO also expresses its concerns for journalists in Guatemala.

Udefegua reported reported that between January 1st and August 15th of this year, there have been 19 registered cases of attacks against journalists, which is a total of 6 more cases than those registered in all of 2012. Continue reading