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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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Civil society and opposition groups are protesting the recent appointment of Judge Mynor Moto to Guatemala’s Constitutional Court. The judge is currently under investigation for obstruction of justice. The Congress put him in place to stack the deck on the country’s highest court. This is the latest salvo by powerful political elites to undermine the country’s judicial institutions. These same elites had lost much of their power over the last decade thanks to high-profile graft investigations by the Attorney General’s Office, the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity, and the now defunct United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The corruption investigations eventually reached all the way to former President Jimmy Morales, the country’s president between 2016 and 2020. Morales launched a crusade to expel the CICIG and to shutter its investigations, which he finally achieved at the end of 2019. The Biden administration is starting to weigh in. Julie Chung, Biden’s Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, stated in a tweet that Moto’s election to the court “threatens the rule of law … and debilitates the integrity of the court.”
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On January 6, 2021, the former head of security for a subsidiary of the Toronto-based mining company Hudbay Minerals officially pled guilty in a Guatemalan court to killing a local Indigenous community leader and paralyzing another Indigenous man. This could have important ramifications for two lawsuits against Hudbay underway in Ontario that centre on the Sept. 27, 2009, killing and maiming of the Indigenous men. Mynor Padilla, the former security chief of CGN, a Guatemalan nickel-mining company that was owned by Canada-based Hudbay between 2008 and 2011, pled guilty to the crimes on Dec. 17, 2020, as part of an agreement struck between Padilla and his victims, among them Angelica Choc, the widow of slain community leader Adolfo Ich Chamán, and German Chub, who was paralyzed. On Wednesday, the court accepted and ratified the guilty pleas.
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Sandra Cuffe in Puerto Barrios

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We continue to organize our communities in support and defense of immigrants, especially those in vulnerable situations. Connect with Immigration Working Group CLE, a collaborative of community advocates and organizations across NE Ohio. Ask about the group’s Immigrant Defense Fund, Rapid Response Team, Bond Reduction Project, volunteer needs, legislative advocacy, vigils, rallies, marches, and more. Contact iwgcle@gmail.com or see www.facebook.com/iwgCLE
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Solidarity donations are being distributed through social movement organizations and collectives in Central America that are working in the communities most impacted by flooding and government neglect.  Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised through grassroots channels, but the need is much greater. Please give what you can to help these families in desperate need.

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