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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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For more than a decade, U.S. presidents and lawmakers from both parties agreed that the U.N. International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala—known by its Spanish acronym, CICIG—offered the best hope of confronting a destructive legacy of corruption in the Central American country. The State Department’s regional experts believe the commission has stemmed the flow of immigrants and drugs to the United States. But now, Guatemala’s conservative president, himself an evangelical Christian, has succeeded in shattering the political consensus, forging alliances with a coalition of U.S. conservatives: Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, former U.N. envoy Nikki Haley, Sen. Marco Rubio, evangelical Christians, and conservative think tanks and pundits who share antipathy toward the United Nations and a preference for friendly sovereign states to be able to act as they please.
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The Q’eqchi women of Sepur Zarco were forced into sex slavery during Guatemala's civil war. The trial against the perpetrators ended in the conviction of senior military officers last year. Between 2008 and 2018, Guatemalan courts issued 16 verdicts in human rights cases linked to the 36-year civil conflict (1960-1996), convicting 33 former military officials, military commissioners, and former civil defense patrol members of a series of war crimes, including torture, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial execution, aggravated sexual violence, and sexual and domestic slavery. A proposed Amnesty Law would terminate all ongoing proceedings against grave crimes committed during the country’s civil war, free all military officials and guerrilla leaders already convicted for these grave crimes, and bar all future investigations into such crimes.
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The 63-year-old Aldana was Guatemala’s top prosecutor from 2014 to 2018. Her biggest successes were the jailing of former President Otto Perez Molina, his Vice President Roxana Baldetti and most of his cabinet on corruption charges. Perez Molina resigned in 2015 and is awaiting trial in corruption cases.
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Though he initially supported CICIG (anti-corruption commission), President Morales reversed course in 2017 when the attorney general and the commission implicated him and his party, the National Convergence Front, in campaign finance violations and sought to lift his immunity. The commission is also investigating his son and his brother on corruption charges, a trial that has now been hobbled—the presiding judges have dismissed CICIG as co-prosecutors in the case.
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Maya communities bore the brunt of almost four decades of a civil war that ended in 1996, leaving over 200,000 casualties, the majority indigenous Guatemalans, according to the United Nations. Now the mostly Maya organizations and many human rights groups worry that the violence is making a comeback: In just the last year, 26 members of mostly indigenous campesino organizations have been killed. "Guatemala is on the verge of a major human rights catastrophe," says Jo-Marie Burt, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America.
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the lifeless body of Jakelin Caal Maquín, 7, who died in the custody of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, was returned to her family home in Guatemala. Then on Christmas Day, the Border Patrol announced another Guatemalan child, 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonso, had died in the agency’s custody.
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The circumstances of Jakelin Caal Maquin’s death are being seized upon as evidence both for and against the Trump administration’s hardline approach to immigration
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murder of seven-year-old Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin while in Border Patrol custody

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