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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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The ACLU said that more than 900 parents and children, including babies, have been separated by U.S. border authorities since U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw, a George W. Bush appointee in San Diego, ordered the government to reunite more than 2,700 children with their parents more than a year ago. "It is shocking that the Trump administration continues to take babies from their parents," said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "The administration must not be allowed to circumvent the court order over infractions like minor traffic violations."
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Under U.S. and international law, the United States is obligated to hear asylum requests unless an alternative "safe third country" is stipulated through a bilateral agreement. Such a "safe third country" must provide security and due process for asylum seekers. Trump officials tried initially to pressure Mexico to sign a safe third country agreement, but the Mexican government balked, even as it capitulated to Trump's tariff threats and stepped up efforts to interdict Central American migrants. So, the Trump administration turned to strong-arming Guatemala.
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Declaring that “Guatemala has not been good,” President Trump threatened on Tuesday to retaliate against the country for not signing an immigration deal. He said his administration was considering imposing tariffs on Guatemalan exports or taxing money sent home by migrants.

The deal, called a “safe third country” agreement, would have required migrants who pass through Guatemala to seek asylum there, instead of continuing to the United States.

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A 14-year old told us she was taking care of a 4-year old who had been placed in her cell with no relatives. "I take her to the bathroom, give her my extra food if she is hungry, and tell people to leave her alone if they are bothering her," she said.

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The law openly defines a family as being made up of a “father and mother with children,” places all responsibility for sexual education on the parents, and defines sexual diversity as “incompatible with human biology.” The proposed definition of a family as a heterosexual couple has led to fears of discrimination against single-parent households. “The law will affect single mothers who have been abandoned or whose partners have migrated, or [single women who have] adopted a child,” Dávila says. “The law will mean that the state no longer recognizes [a single mother] as a family.” The United Nations’ High Commission on Human Rights called the law “regressive.”
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Women from CONAVIGUA - an organisation founded by women whose husbands were killed or disappeared during the armed conflict - and supporters protested Wednesday outside Congress in anticipation of the second reading. They vow to return when the bill is back on the agenda. "Victims have a right to justice. We reject any attempt to grant amnesty. We reject impunity," CONAVIGUA national coordinator Rosalina Tuyuc told reporters at the rally outside the Congress building on Feb 13.
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A woman spreads incense over the remains of 172 unidentified people who were discovered buried at what was once a Guatemalan military camp during the civil war in San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala, a day before their formal burial at the same site where they were unearthed. A genetic bank of the unidentified is saving DNA samples from the remains for those searching for relatives...If passed, the proposed Amnesty Law would undo decades of work to provide justice to victims of wartime atrocities; it would represent an unequivocal return to the reign of impunity long sought by the powerful, military-backed networks of corruption that the United States has invested significant resources into dismantling.

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