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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.

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News Article

Amnesty International's new report, "The entire system against us," highlights the abuse of Guatemala's criminal justice system by officials from the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Judiciary to suppress efforts against corruption and impunity. This pattern of harassment includes gender-based violence and discrimination, severely impacting women justice operators and human rights defenders. The report details how these women face unfounded criminal charges, unfair trials, and multiple rights violations, such as prolonged pre-trial detention and public and online harassment.

Key cases include former judge Erika Aifán, former prosecutor Virginia Laparra, assistant prosecutors Paola Escobar and Aliss Morán, and lawyer Claudia González. These women were targeted for their legitimate work against corruption and faced additional punishment for challenging traditional gender roles.

Amnesty International documents systemic issues, such as strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs), improper pre-trial detention, and harassment. The organization calls for urgent reforms to protect justice operators and human rights defenders, emphasizing the need to address gender-based violence, ensure fair legal proceedings, and uphold the independence of the judiciary to restore justice in Guatemala.

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In "Flights: Radicals on the Run," Joel Whitney discusses Rigoberta Menchú's harrowing experiences as an indigenous activist in Guatemala. Menchú's life was marked by tragedy, including the loss of her family to military regimes and her own involvement in the struggle for indigenous rights. Despite enduring unimaginable suffering, Menchú's resilience led her to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 and establish Guatemala's first indigenous political party. Through her activism and memoir, Menchú shed light on the atrocities committed against the Maya population, including massacres, forced labor, and cultural suppression. Whitney's article highlights Menchú's journey from victim to advocate, emphasizing her enduring impact on Guatemala's political landscape.

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To read the full article: Migrant Justice Newsletter - April 2024 | InterReligious Task Force on Central America (irtfcleveland.org)

Welcome to IRTF’s March 2024 newsletter on Migrant Justice and the current situation at the US-Mexico border. After you’ve looked through the articles, we hope you can take a few minutes to see the TAKE ACTION items at the bottom. In this newsletter, please read about : 1.  Changing Trends in Migrants at US-Mexico Border. 2. ICE Air: Update on Removal Flight Trends . 3. Study Reveals: Border Wall Height Exacerbates Trauma Incidents . 4. At the Border: Recent . Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border . 5. Border Patrol and Local Law Enforcement’s Patterns of Abuse in Ohio’s Immigration Enforcement. 6. Raising the Credible Fear Screening Standard Will Endanger Lives but Won’t Fix The Border . 7. Children in US-Mexico Border Camps. 8. Migrants Mired in Transit as Mexico Becomes US’s Immigration Enforcer. 9. Kidnapping of Migrants and Asylum Seekers at Texas-Tamaulipas Border Reaches Intolerable Levels . 10.  Migrant Deaths in New Mexico and Western Texas . 11. Human Rights in the Darién Gap of Panamá.

 TAKE ACTION NOW. Here is what you can do to take action this week in solidarity with migrants and their families. (See details at the bottom of this newsletter.) A) SPEAK UP FOR DEMOCRACY IN EL SALVADOR. B)  SPEAK UP FOR PEOPLE IN HAITI. C) STOP DEPORTATIONS TO HAITI . D) PROTECT UNACCOMPANIED MINORS. E) VISIT CAPITOL HILL: #ReuniteUS. F) HELP REFUGEES & MIGRANTS IN CLEVELAND. 

 

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The Ixil Genocide Case, targeting Manuel Benedicto Lucas García for genocide against the Maya Ixil people during General Fernando Romeo Lucas García's government (1978-1982), commences on March 25. The case marks the third genocide trial initiated by AJR. Approximately 150 survivors are expected to testify. Michelle Liang of NISGUA urges reflection on the US role in the genocide, highlighting its support for the Guatemalan military and police, which perpetuated violence against indigenous populations. The trial underscores Guatemala's post-conflict pursuit of justice, following the Interdiocesan Project of Recuperation of Historical Memory and the CEH's work. The case details the atrocities committed, including massacres and forced disappearances, and outlines the evidence gathered, including forensic reports and military documents. The ongoing trial faces challenges, including potential judicial interference and risks to witnesses. Organizations are urged to support the pursuit of justice and ensure accountability for the atrocities committed during Guatemala's internal armed conflict.

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The article in The Nation by Stephen Schlesinger, co-author of "Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala," praises the U.S. government for recognizing the 2023 elections in Guatemala as a step towards making amends for its intervention in 1954. However, the critic argues that this conclusion is flawed. They assert that the U.S. has not adequately addressed the consequences of its actions in Guatemala, including supporting repressive regimes, complicity in genocides against indigenous populations, and maintaining relations with corrupt governments under the guise of democracy. The critic highlights similar patterns in Honduras, where U.S. support for a military coup led to worsening conditions for its people. They criticize Schlesinger's portrayal of the U.S. role in Guatemala and express concern about future U.S. interests in the region.

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Respect for Indigenous sovereignty and self-government are essential to a future where peoples are not forced to migrate. Will Guatemala’s new government work with communities to make this a reality?

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