Guatemala News Update: March 2-6

Vice President Biden Visits Guatemala

Joe Biden met with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to discuss in detail the Alliance for Prosperity Plan. Following an initial meeting, Biden and the presidents of the Northern Triangle countries payed a visit to the Ixchel Museum to meet with members of the private sector, where Biden stressed the need for business owners to invest in their own countries.

Biden also urged Guatemala to continue the mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG), and met with CICIG Commissioner Velazquez to underscore the importance of the commission’s work. In a response to Biden’s comments, President Pérez Molina rejected the notion of using the extension of the CICIG as a precondition for receiving US funding.

“Smaller than David”: The Struggle of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala

Human rights groups The Observatory and UDEFEGUA have launched a report and documentary film about the vulnerability of human rights defenders in Guatemala. The report highlights the targeting of land rights defenders via criminalization, threats and physical violence. 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