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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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January 29, 2021
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.”
January 19, 2021
The police and military in Guatemala are using excessive force to expel caravans of migrants who entered Guatemala, most hoping to cross the country and arrive at the Mexico border to seek political asylum in Mexico or the United States. Of the estimated 7-8,000 migrants who crossed into Guatemala (largely Hondurans) since the week of January 11, about 2,000 migrants were slowed down by security forces who blockaded a highway near the village of Vado Hondo in southeastern Guatemala on January 16. The following day, hundreds of police and military pushed migrants south by launching teargas and surging with plastic shields and batons. Unknown numbers of migrants were beaten; many sought medical attention for their injuries. We are aware that the sheer number of migrants was overwhelming. We realize that Guatemala needs to protect its own citizens against the corona virus. Nevertheless, this show of force was excessive. Migrants have an internationally-recognized right to seek political asylum. We are urging that authorities in Guatemala: 1) assess the police and military response to the migrant caravan and bring to justice any security personnel who used force that caused serious bodily injury to migrants; 2) work with neighboring countries to allow for the safe passage of migrants who journey through Guatemala to pursue their internationally-recognized right to apply for political asylum in Mexico or the United States
January 15, 2021
We wrote to the attorney general of Guatemala regarding the criminalization of the Reverend Delia Adelina Leal Mollinedo, a Christian minister in Cobán, Alta Verapaz Department. In December she was providing hospitality for two young women in a precarious, unsafe living situation who sought refuge at her home. On December 29, police broke into her home and arrested her on charges of kidnapping, trafficking of minors, and obstruction of an investigation. She was not permitted to appear before a judge until January 6. She was eventually released from jail and placed under house arrest on January 11. We believe the charges against Delia Leal have been fabricated because of her human rights work on behalf of women and children. We are therefore urging that authorities in Guatemala: 1) immediately drop all charges against Delia Adelina Leal Molinedo and release her from house arrest; 2) take all necessary measures to guarantee her safety and security; 3) guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions and judicial harassment.
Guatemala: Hudbay Minerals head of security pleads guilty to killing and assaults near Guatemala mine
January 7, 2021
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.
January 7, 2021
Sandra Cuffe in Puerto Barrios
December 31, 2020
A death threat was mailed (December 7) to journalists Marvin del Cid and Sonny Figueroa of the investigative news website Vox Populi in Guatemala City. The message warned the journalists to refrain from investigating and publishing their work “or else you’ll see.” Both journalists specialize in reporting on alleged corruption. In recent months they have published a series of investigations into alleged influence-peddling among individuals connected to President Alejandro Giammattei. Both have reported incidents of intimidation and obstruction this year, including police harassment in public spaces, an online smear campaign, and being singled out by President Giammattei for criticism at public events. These are further examples of the intimidation and harassment against journalists whose investigative reporting is making a vital contribution to democracy in Guatemala.
December 28, 2020
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 email@example.com or see www.facebook.com/iwgCLE
December 17, 2020
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.
November 24, 2020
The National Civil Police (PNC) used excessive force and brutality against demonstrators and journalists at a primarily peaceful protest at the Constitutional Plaza in Guatemala City on November 21. We support the demands of Amnesty International: 1) “that the Public Prosecutor's Office conduct a prompt, thorough and independent investigation into the excessive use of force by police during the demonstrations, and 2) “that the government ensure that the population is able to exercise its right to raise its voice without fear of reprisal.” Furthermore, we echo the recommendation by Jordán Rodas Andrade, Guatemala’s ombudsman for human rights: “Refrain from using these acts of provocation and vandalism to justify the persecution of journalists and human rights defenders, and criminalize the legitimate demonstration of citizens”
November 21, 2020 to November 22, 2020
Join us on Saturday, November 21 and Sunday, November 22 for the third event of our SOA Watch 30th Anniversary Rooted in Resistance series! On Saturday, November 21 we will facilitate three virtual panels about the historic and current impacts of US Empire throughout the Americas and the powerful movements organizing to defend autonomy and dignity of our communities. On Sunday, November 22 we will be hosting our annual vigil, including ¡presentes! and litany and featuring the SOA Watch Musicians Collective. The weekend's virtual events and spaces are free, bilingual (Spanish and English, interpretation will be provided) and all are welcome! You will receive an email confirmation with all the links for Saturday's panels and Sunday's litany and ¡presentes! immediately after registering .