March in memory of disappeared victims of the Civil War
On June 30, the same day as National Army Day, HIJOS (Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice against Forgetting and Silence) held their fifth annual peaceful march in the Historic Center of Guatemala City. The roughly 500 protesters hold the army accountable for the 45,000 people that disappeared during the war.
Land rush for sugarcane leaves thousands without land
Due to the increasing demand of bio fuel throughout Europe and the US, sugarcane has become an increasingly popular crop. Because of this, many companies are buying up land in Guatemala that was once used by corn farmers. Since they cannot afford to match the rent offered by sugarcane companies, many small-scale farmers are being forced to move, which is what happened in the Polochic Valley in 2011. As of May, nearly 1 million people were involved in over 1,400 land disputes in Guatemala.
Increase in attacks against human rights defenders
According to the Human Rights Ombudsman Jorge de León Duque, there has been an increase in attacks, assassinations and threats against human rights defenders this year. Four have been assassinated and nearly 500 reports of aggression have been registered. Many believe that the increase has to do with the recent genocide trial of Ríos Montt because it raised the profile of human rights defenders on a national level.
OAS 43rd General Assembly
The Organization of American States had its 43rd General Assembly in Antigua, Guatemala. In attendance were 28 chancellors and 500 representatives from member countries, as well as 80 permanent observing countries. The main topic of discussion was drugs, though there were no major developments or changes in policy.
Pérez Molina and Kerry’s Bilateral Meeting
US Secretary of State John Kerry and President Otto Pérez Molina met and discussed the United States’ migration reform and the situation of Guatemalans in the United States. Molina expressed many worries; for example, how to stop deportations of Guatemalan migrants and that Guatemala should be involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Ontario Securities Commission Is Investigating Tahoe Resources
Tahoe Resources, a Canadian mining company, is being investigated by the Ontario Securities Commission in relation to the six people shot outside of the Escobal mines on April 27. It is reported that six of Tahoe’s employees have been implicated in the crime based on phone taps from the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor’s Office. As heard in court, Tahoe’s security director, Alberto Rotondo, ordered the murders of the protestors. The Justice and Corporate Accountability Project asked the Ontario Securities Commission to investigate Tahoe Resources claiming that the mining company had downplayed and hidden what their workers had done.