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Guatemala: News & Updates
Guatemala had the longest and bloodiest civil war in Central American history: 36 years (1960-96). The US-backed military was responsible for a genocide (“scorched earth policy”) that wiped out 200,000 mostly Maya indigenous civilians. War criminals are still being tried in the courts.
Learn more here.
July 23, 2020
For the past 23 years, the Santa Elena Project of Accompaniment has remained steadfast in its mission to support education in the returned refugee communities of Santa Elena 20 de Octubre and Copal AA La Esperanza in northern Guatemala, in addition to providing support for accompaniers working to protect human rights defenders through NISGUA (Network in Solidarity with Guatemala). SEPA's mission is to support human rights workers in Guatemala as well as assist with educational scholarships, teacher salaries and needs as requested in the villages of Santa Elena and Copal AA.
July 13, 2020 to July 17, 2020
The U.S. asylum system is under attack by inhumane and illegal policies such as the Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACAs), essentially deporting people who are seeking safe haven to UNsafe third countries in Central America. Stand in solidarity with refugees and demand that Congress #DEFUND these agreements! Join the twitterstorm against the ACAs!
RRN Case Update
July 1, 2020
April, May and June RRN case summaries at a glance
On behalf of our 190 Rapid Response Network members, IRTF volunteers write and send six letters each month to government officials in southern Mexico, Colombia, and Central America (with copies to officials in the US). Who is being targeted? indigenous and Afro-descendant leaders, labor organizers, LGBTI rights defenders, women’s rights defenders, journalists, environmental defenders, campesinos, and others.
June 25, 2020
We are outraged at the beating and arrest of journalist Francisco Chox in the municipality of Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, in Sololá department.
June 18, 2020
Some 650,000 DREAMers are temporarily safe from deportation (at least for now) because of today’s Supreme Court ruling against the Trump administration. Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote when he joined the court's four liberal justices. Their ruling: the 2017 decision by DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. This is an unexpected and positive ruling, but the fight on behalf of the DREAMers is far from over. DACA recipients have gotten advanced degrees; they have started businesses; they have bought houses, had children who are U.S. citizens; and 90% have jobs. Some 29,000 DREAMers are health care professionals. It’s no surprise that the majority of people in the US want the DREAMers to stay. But this won’t happen until Senator Mitch McConnell introduces the American Dream and Promise Act onto the Senate floor. The bill, which would give permanent legal status and path to citizenship for the DREAMers, was passed by the US House with an overwhelming majority on June 4, 2019. The Senate has stalled, refusing to take up this crucial piece of legislation.
May 24, 2020
Unknown individuals raided and vandalized the house of human rights lawyer Esteban Emanuel Celada Flores while he was at work. This is the third raid on his home in less than five months. Esteban Celada has filed at least six complaints before the Public Ministry for multiple attacks against him since 2016. While filing complaints he has experienced intimidating attitudes from members of the Public Ministry. The intimidating content as well as the continuous and systemic nature of the attacks have left a harmful psychological impact on Esteban Celada. No advances have been made on the investigations, nor have protection measures been implemented to safeguard his life and integrity. When he filed a complaint with the the Public Ministry's Crime Unit against Human Rights Activists of this recent incident (April 22), he was told that due to COVID-19 the Unit was lacking the resources to immediately assess the crime scene.
April 16, 2020
While state forces threaten their safety and dignity, Indigenous peoples and migrants resist with courage and resilience. Join CRLN for this webinar to learn about resource extraction, migration, and the work of Indigenous people in Guatemala to build a world beyond colonial borders.
April 2, 2020
#PorelDerechoaDefenderDerechos - As an active member of the Committee for Campesino Development (CODECA), Dominga Ramos Saljoj was a leader in the organized resistance against the privatization of electricity. The British-owned ENERGUATE, which has been waging a defamation campaign against CODECA leaders over the past several years, operates a monopoly in 80% of Guatemala. An assassin knocked on the door of the home of Dominga Ramos, said “This one is for you,” shot her 8 times, and took off on a motorcycle. Her daughter-in-law and grandchildren witnessed the gruesome murder. We must not allow impunity to continue for these assassinations. Dominga Ramos Saljoj - ¡presente!
RRN Case Update
April 1, 2020
January, February, and March RRN case summaries at a glance
On behalf of our 190 Rapid Response Network members, IRTF volunteers write and send six letters each month to government officials in southern Mexico, Colombia, and Central America (with copies to officials in the US). Who is being targeted? indigenous and Afro-descendant leaders, labor organizers, LGBTI rights defenders, women’s rights defenders, journalists, environmental defenders, and others. By signing our names to these crucial letters, human rights crimes are brought to light, perpetrators are brought to justice and lives are spared. Our solidarity is more important than ever. Together, our voices do make a difference.
Skeletons in the Closets of World Bank & Inter-American Development Bank: March 13, 2020 marks 38th anniversary of Chixoy dam/Rio Negro massacres in Guatemala
March 13, 2020
The Chixoy dam was a very profitable investment project of the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in partnership with the U.S.-backed genocidal regimes of Generals Lucas García and Ríos Montt. To clear the way, over 30 Mayan communities were forcibly evicted up and down the river. The village of Río Negro was hit the hardest. The Guatemalan government killed more than 444 villagers over the course of five large-scale massacres in 1981 and 1982. (March 13 is the 20th anniversary of the massacre of 177 Maya Achi children and women.) Since 1994, the Rio Negro survivors have courageously pressured Guatemala’s corrupted legal system to put on trial, find guilty, and send to jail nine former Civil Defense Patrollers (PAC) and military commissioners, mainly from the neighboring village of Xococ. But these were merely the “material authors.” The “intellectual authors” have never been investigated or charged. Not one single military officer in the chain of command, who ordered and carried out the Chixoy dam massacres, was captured, tried and sentenced. Not one official or program officer from the World Bank and IDB was subjected to any investigation into the role of these “development” banks in partnering with the U.S.-backed genocidal regimes of Guatemala (1975-83) in planning and carrying out all aspects of the project. On October 20, 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights did find the Guatemalan government responsible for the Rio Negro/ Chixoy dam massacres and ordered the government to legally investigate the massacres and compensate surviving families. On November 8, 2014, then president and former army general Otto Perez Molina (now in jail on corruption charges) formally apologized on behalf of the government for the human rights violations and sufferings caused by the Chixoy dam project, and signed into law Decree #378-2014, “the Public Policy of Reparations for Communities Affected by the Construction of the Chixoy hydro-electric dam project.” Thirty-eight years later, a measure of reparations has been paid to some of the Chixoy dam victims. But no justice has been done for the roles and responsibilities of the “intellectual authors” in the Guatemalan government, World Bank and IDB that promoted, designed, implemented and profited financially from the project. Pointing out the impunity and corruption of the authors and profiteers of the Chixoy dam crimes highlights the enormity of this global human problem. Across the planet today, governments, “development” banks, corporations and investors push ahead with “resource development projects,” violently displacing populations and destroying habitats, violating a wide range of individual and collective rights, and ravaging Mother Earth.