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NO RELIEF IN SIGHT: PRESIDENT ALEJANDRO GIAMATTEI APPEARS TO BE A NEW FACE BACKED BY THE SAME OLD CRIMINAL NETWORKS
January 15, 2020
President-elect Alejandro Giammattei took office yesterday in Guatemala City. Giammattei comes to the presidency backed by a group of hard-line former military officers reportedly associated with the sector that opposed the peace process that ended Guatemala’s 36-year civil war. Many are also associated with industries that extract resources from rural communities – often with US, Canadian and European investment – a sector Giammattei has pledged to promote. In one of CICIG’s first prosecutions, on August 9, 2010 an arrest warrant was issued against Giammattei on charges of extrajudicial execution related to violent deaths in the Pavon prison on September 25, 2006 while he was the National Director of the Penitentiary System. His then assistant and three police officers were arrested that day, but Giammattei, apparently alerted, had requested political asylum days before in Honduras’ embassy in Guatemala. His request was denied, so on August 13, 2010 he was taken into detention on the Mariscal Zavala military base.
January 15, 2020
Daniel Berrigan would describe my first arrest as a "yogurt arrest", because it went down easy. Read here about why it was so tame and why I did it.
January 13, 2020
The director of a maximum-security prison in Honduras was brazenly murdered in broad daylight, in what was just the latest in a string of killings following the conviction for drug trafficking of Tony Hernández, the president’s brother, in the United States. The day before López was murdered, Marco Tulio Amador Varela was shot and killed inside La Tolva prison. Amador Varela was allegedly the “right-hand man” of former El Paraíso mayor Amilcar Alexander Ardón Soriano, according to La Tribuna. US prosecutors indicted Ardón in January 2019 on charges that he too participated in Tony Hernández’s drug trafficking conspiracy. Just two days after López’s brutal slaying inside El Pozo, authorities were quick to announce the arrest of four of the inmates believed to be involved, according to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office. However, six individuals were observed participating in the murder. It’s not clear what happened to the other two, or who may have ordered the killing. After his arrest, López was reportedly collaborating with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), according to Univision.
January 9, 2020
An officer tasked with separating migrant children from their parents under that pilot program speaks out — offering a rare public criticism of the initiative from within Border Patrol’s own ranks. “That was the most horrible thing I’ve ever done,” Wesley Farris, a high-ranking officer with El Paso’s Border Patrol Union, tells FRONTLINE’s Martin Smith in the above excerpt. “You can’t help but see your own kids.” “It was a young boy. I think he was about two. The world was upside down to that kid,” Farris says. “So when the contractor tried to take him away, he reached for me and he climbed up on me again, and he was holding on to me. So that that one got me a little bit.”
January 8, 2020
Alternative Trade Organizations (such as Equal Exchange) have foundational influence in the broader fair trade movement but have become isolated from even their most natural allies including coops, citizen movements, community economic organizations, unions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The monthly Food Action Forum meetings allow all of us to connect, build community, and have space to push our campaigns forward and engage in actions out in our local communities. In today’s overwhelmingly digital world we want to find ways to create meaningful and deep connections with this community, connections that are two-way, connections that are active, not passive. Join us as we work together to build a democratic brand that connects small farmers in the Global South to consumers in the Global North.
December 23, 2019
Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the U.S. Border Patrol, has purchased 33 million rounds of ammunition for its new handgun and may buy more than 300 million additional rounds over the next five years. Customs and Border Protection agreed to pay $9.89 million for Winchester Ammunition. Another five-year contract for ammunition is expected to be awarded late next year, with its value estimated at between $80 million and $100 million. According to the agency, on a typical day it apprehends more than 1,000 people and seizes around 4,600 pounds of narcotics, along with $290,000 of undeclared or illicit currency. But the criminal misconduct by border officers recently reached a five-year high, an internal government report obtained by Quartz revealed. CBP is among the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies, and more than 50,000 CBP employees are authorized to carry sidearms.
December 19, 2019
December 18 is International Migrants Day. IRTF and SOA Watch stand in solidarity with all displaced peoples across the world. Violence and death--too often consequences of US foreign policy--push migrants to leave their homes in Central America. We are concerned about many current developments, such as the report that the Border Patrol is buying 33 million rounds of bullets from Winchester. Weaponizing our immigration enforcement officers is intensifying conflict instead of ensuring peace.
December 18, 2019
The logistical challenges were daunting, but as luck would have it, Immigration and Customs Enforcement already had a partner on its payroll: McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm brought on under the Obama administration to help engineer an “organizational transformation” in the ICE division charged with deporting migrants who are in the United States unlawfully. ICE quickly redirected McKinsey toward helping the agency figure out how to execute the White House’s clampdown on illegal immigration. McKinsey, the firm’s presentations show, pursued “detention savings opportunities” in blunt ways. The consultants encouraged ICE to adopt a “longer-term strategy” with “operational decisions to fill low cost beds before expensive beds.” In practice, that meant shunting detainees to less expensive — and sometimes less safe — facilities, often rural county jails. “There’s a concerted effort to try to ship folks ICE sees as long-term detainees to these low-cost facilities run by local sheriffs’ offices where conditions are abysmal,” said Eunice Cho, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who focuses on issues involving the detention of immigrants. McKinsey also looked to cut costs by lowering standards at ICE detention facilities, according to an internal ICE email and two former agency officials.
December 13, 2019
Two months after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded fines ranging between $300,000 – $500,000 against seven women living in Sanctuary in churches across the country, ICE has sent letters threatening renewal of the civil fines and potential criminal prosecution. Until now the only thing preventing ICE from carrying out an enforcement action at a place of worship has been a “sensitive locations” memorandum issued years ago. “The fines and the threat of criminal prosecution are an extreme form of retaliation against people whose lives are in danger if they are deported. This tactic is consistent with the Trump administration’s unlawful campaign to end asylum and deport immigrants of color.”
December 13, 2019
Michael Joseph is the UCC Global Ministries Mission Co-Worker in Colombia.The violence related to Colombia’s war was on the rise in the early 2000s when church and human rights partners in Colombia became concerned about a huge increase in U.S. military aid that they feared would add more fuel to the fire. They decided to document, as best they could, the impact of this war on the Protestant church in Colombia. Michael joined this documentation program after going to Colombia with Global Ministries in 2007. Today, twelve years later, this human rights documentation program has recorded over 10,000 human rights violations. In 2020 he will transition to working at the Nojolo'on Peace Center in Mexico as a Global Ministries Global Associate.