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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

As Fiscal Year 2022 is almost over, we are hearing numbers of 750 or more migrant deaths over the past twelve months. While, tragically, it does still happen that migrants die while being chased by Border Patrol agents or shot when attempting to cross the border, the majority of these deaths are a result of the so-called “prevention through deterrence” strategy that forces people to take on more dangerous routes when traveling up to the southern U.S. border to seek safety. And if they do make it through to the U.S., they are often expelled immediately or put into deportation proceedings, waiting for their hearing in Mexican emergency shelters or U.S. detention centers. Read IRTF's monthly overview of recent updates on U.S. immigration and what has been happening at the border!

News Article

Since the Biden administration restarted the Central American Minors Refugee and Parole Program (CAM program), initionaly initiated by the Obama administration and later withdrawn by Trump, not much has happened. 

Underfunding and personal shortage at the nine national resettlement agencies led to the inability to handle the mass of applications. 

Due to this bottleneck only a few hundred cases filed before the Trump administration ended the program have been completed since March 2021.

For many children this slow processing of applications means waiting times of over a year and no information on how long it will take until they are reunited with their familes.

Organizations are now calling for the support of consuls to help the children with their application interviews and pass case information on to the waiting parents or guardians.  


News Article

On September 17, the New York Times published an article  by Anatoly Kurmanaev and Jody García including misinformation and false claims about the US government's efforts to support democracy in Central America. 

The article claims that the Biden administration is working to end corruption and impunity in Guatemala, while being inactive as the military backed government  “methodically dismantled the last vestiges of independent institutions." The US is supporting this illegitimate government, referring to the Guatemalan ruling class as "democratic allies." 

Besides this, Biden lied about stopping the sanctions against Nicaragua, which the U.S. and many "western" countries have been using since the 1980's to squeeze its economy and cause political change. 

The article also states that the U.S. aided the return to democracy in Honduras. In fact, the U.S. has always held mutually beneficial relations to the Honduran government which came to power by an U.S. backed coup.     


News Article

Once again a North American company seeks to rob Guatemala of its natural resources. 

Under heavy protest, the Canadian mining corporation Bluestone Resources is going forward with the open-pit mining operation Cerro Blanco in Asunción Mita, in the department of Jutiapa.  

Knowing this new gold mine would cause irreparable damages to the surface and subterranean water flows risking the water security of millions, the community called in a Municipal Consultation of Neighbors, a legally binding state tool that lets local residents make decisions about their territory. 

On September 18, the Mitecos and Mitecas residents, after strong backlash from Bluestone Resources, went to the polls to vote on the future of their homes. The outcome was clear. 87% of the voters opposed Bluestone's mining plan, yet the company had an ace up their sleeve. 

Following the democratic decision, the corporation turned to the corrupt government of Guatemala.

Only a day later, on September 19 the Ministry of Energy and Mining (MEM) rejected the Municipal Consultation of Neighbors' vote, stating that the Municipal government of Asunción Mita does not have the authority to make that decision. 

It is not the first time, that the MEM has acted as a private attorney for the big mining corporation. 

More on MEM's and the government's involvement in illegal mining in the following article.    

News Article

On behalf of IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) members, we wrote six letters this month to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries.  We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: (1) protect people living under threat, (2) demand investigations into human rights crimes, (3) bring human rights criminals to justice.

IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) volunteers write six letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see , or ask us to mail you hard copies.

News Article

In 2012, the Inter-American Court for Human Rights (IACHR) ruled that the Guatemalan state was responsible for crimes associated with the Military Diary and ordered the state to determine who committed them, locate the victims’ remains, provide psychological support to families, and provide reparations. In spite of this, the national investigation of the case stalled for years The details outlined in the Military Diary have been corroborated by testimonies from both survivors and relatives of the victims. The family members have been demanding justice ever since their loved ones were illegally detained. The families are calling for international solidarity to push forward this case for justice and reparations.

News Article

Practicing journalism in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador is becoming increasingly difficult in the face of the persecution of independent media outlets by neo-populist rulers of different stripes, intolerant of criticism. The union of Guatemalan journalists and the reporter’s family say the arrest is a clear example of political persecution as a result of the investigations into corruption and mismanagement in the Giammattei administration published by the newspaper, which was founded in 1996. “I definitely believe it is a case of political persecution and harassment, and of violence against free expression and the expression of thought,” Ramón Zamora, son of the editor of elPeriódico who has been imprisoned since his arrest, told IPS from Guatemala City.