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Guatemala

Genocide Trial In Guatemala Brings Memories Of Israel’s Role In Killings

As the genocide trial of retired Guatemalan General Benedicto Lucas Garcia unfolds in a courtroom in Guatemala City, Indigenous Maya witnesses—some in strained voices or reduced to tears—describe the killing methods used by soldiers. A woman in a woven huipil blouse grabs her chest and inclines forward to show how her mother was shot point blank. A man who was fourteen when troops came upon his family cleaning their cornfield points to his forehead and a spot above his right ear where a soldier shot his father “in front of me.” Another woman closes her fingers like the head of an ax and brings it down on the crown of her head to show how a neighbor was killed.

Genocide Ixil Case

On April 5th, 2024, the oral and public debate against former military officer: Benedicto Lucas García, accused in the Ixil Genocide case and driven by the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR), was resumed by the High-Risk “A” Court. The Public Ministry stated in its opening arguments that it will prove that during the period from August 16, 1981 to March 23, 1982, Manuel Benedicto Lucas García is responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, forced disappearances, and massacres against at least 844 identified victims for this case, which will be proven through witnesses and experts’ testimonies. It also emphasized that behind these 844 names are entire families who were massacred.

Delay Tactics On First Day Of Genocide Trial In Guatemala

Guatemala City, Guatemala - On March 25, 2024, the first hearing of the Oral and Public Debate was held against former General Benedicto Lucas García, for the crimes of genocide, sexual violence and crimes against humanity, committed during the dictatorship of his brother Romeo Lucas García (1978-1982). Ancestral Indigenous Authorities of the Ixil people of Nebaj and Chajul, representatives of the National Platform of Victims, CONAVIGUA, along with members of other religious, social and human rights organizations, were present to support the plaintiffs, the Association for Justice and Reconciliation, and their legal team.

40 Years After The Ixil Genocide, Case Against General Lucas García Opens

After 36 years, Guatemala put an end to the Internal Armed Conflict –IAC-, with the definitive ceasefire and the signing of the firm and lasting Peace Agreement on December 29th of 1996. Previously, through the Oslo Accords (1994), the parties agreed to the creation of the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH) with the purpose of “clarifying with complete objectivity, fairness and impartiality the violations of Human Rights and the acts of violence that caused suffering to the Guatemalan population, linked to the armed conflict,” however the Commission would have an extendable term of 6 months of work from its installation, which would occur between 1997 and 1998.

The Return Of The Guatemalan Spring, Update 1

Guatemala’s new president Bernardo Arévalo was inaugurated on January 14. But it did not come off without a hitch. Outgoing opposition lawmakers did their best to try to stymie the swearing-in of Arévalo and some of his party members. Arévalo’s supporters rallied in Guatemala City. As we looked at in Episode 2, Bernardo Arévalo is the son of Guatemala’s first democratic leader Juan José Arévalo, who ushered in the Guatemalan Spring. Bernardo Arévalo has promised to lift Guatemala once again, but… even after winning the election, he faced constant legal maneuvers, led by the attorney general, that aimed to overturn the results and block his inauguration.

Indigenous Leaders Saved Guatemala’s Fragile Democracy

Guatemala City’s Central Plaza was a sea of cautious optimism on Jan. 14. But just up the street, a march organized by Indigenous leaders set out to walk towards the plaza as part of the commemoration of the inauguration of Bernardo Arévalo as the country’s next president. The march marked the culmination of the Indigenous-led movement to defend Guatemala’s fragile democracy against attempts launched by corrupt politicians to block the ascension of Arévalo to the presidency of the Central American country. He was an academic and diplomat who became a congressional representative and then an anti-corruption presidential candidate in 2023.

Guatemala’s ‘Silent Holocaust’ Under The Shadow

In the third episode of Under the Shadow, host Michael Fox visits a memorial for the disappeared on the outskirts of the Guatemalan town of San Juan Comalapa. Then, he walks back in time to the 1980s, into the country’s genocide of Indigenous peoples—and the overwhelming support for the violence that came from the United States and then-President Ronald Reagan in the name of fighting the so-called “communist threat.” Between 1962-1996, 200,000 Guatemalans were killed and 45,000 were forcibly disappeared. For the majority of families, the whereabouts of those lost loved ones are still unknown, even decades after security forces abducted them.

Guatemala: President-Elect Promises Radical Changes For The Country

Guatemala’s president-elect, Bernardo Arévalo de León, will take office on January 14 with high expectations for radical change. It remains to be seen if his ambitious plan will succeed, but for the time being, any of decisions will be a step forward in a country that is 44% Mayan and where more than 50 percent of the population lives in conditions of extreme poverty. In statements to the foreign press, Arevalo indicated that the first action he will take upon assuming power will be to revoke “irresponsible” and “absurd” decrees of the outgoing government of right wing President Alejandro Giammattei.

Mobilizations Continue In Guatemala Against Impending ‘Coup’

Thousands of Guatemalans have been on an indefinite national strike to reject the moves by the Attorney General’s office and the Courts to undermine the results of the August presidential elections and prevent president-elect Bernardo Arévalo from taking office in January. The mostly Indigenous protesters have been blocking highways and mobilizing in cities across the country. Some delegations marched from the rural regions of the country to the capital city to hold a sit-in outside the Attorney General’s office where they have been joined by students, street and market vendors, and other progressive organizations.

How Guatemalans Are Mobilizing To Defend Their Fragile Democracy

Guatemala is facing one of its most critical political crises in the last three decades following the surprise victory of progressive anti-corruption presidential candidate Bernardo Arévalo on Aug. 20. The crisis stems from what many Guatemalans see as an attempt by officials accused of corruption to undermine and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the results of the country’s democratic process in order to protect their interests. In response, citizens and social movements have mobilized to defend the Central American country’s democracy as public officials attempt to undermine the will of the people.

Guatemalans Call For ‘The Flowers March’ To Defend Democracy

“Criminal structures do not want to relinquish power,” said Alida Vicente, mayor of Palin, Guatemala. On Sunday July 23, the Highlands Farmers Committee (CCDA), the Palin Indigenous Mayor’s Office, and students from the University of San Carlos (USAC) called for a “March of Flowers” to defend democracy in Guatemala. This happens at a time when the Prosecutor’s Office is carrying out persecution against the Seed Movement party (Semilla) which may jeopardize the holding of the presidential run-off scheduled for August 20.The “Flowers March” seeks to oppose the “dark political landscape” that Guatemalan elites are trying to consolidate, said Vicente.

Guatemalan Political Crisis; Critics Slam June Elections Disqualifications

Campaigning began in earnest last month for Guatemala’s general elections, with political messaging filling the streets, local broadcasts and social media. But less than three months before the June 25 vote, concerns are mounting among national and international observers over the integrity of the process. At least 30 political parties are set to contest the upcoming elections, with more than 22,000 candidates registered to run for the presidency, congress, regional parliament and councils across the country. But Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which governs elections, has blocked several opposition candidates from running on “dubious grounds."

Water Defenders Protect Guatemalan Lake From Mountains Of Garbage

Hundreds of activists from across Guatemala walked along the shores of the majestic Lake Atitlán in the country’s western highlands in commemoration of World Water Day on March 22. In their hands they carried white flowers, which they left floating along the shores as an offering. The ceremony was held as part of the regional meeting of water activists to mark the international day meant to bring awareness to the water crisis around the world. This meeting was hosted by the local collective Comunidad Tz’unun Ya’, which has become one of the most active water rights defenders in the Central American country.  

Guatemala Blocks Leftist Indigenous Leader From Presidential Race

Guatemala’s notoriously corrupt right-wing government has blocked a prominent leftist Indigenous leader from running in the June 2023 presidential election, in a move that international observers have condemned as an “electoral coup”. Nearly half of Guatemalans (44%) identify as Indigenous. The Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples (MLP) is a left-wing party that was created to represent the First Nations who have for so long been ignored by Guatemala’s political system. The MLP is led by Thelma Cabrera, a social movement activist and human rights defender from the Maya Mam community. She has pledged to fight poverty in Guatemala (one of the poorest countries in the region), resist neoliberalism, and establish a plurinational state that gives full rights to Indigenous nations, like Bolivia. The newly created MLP party ran for the first time in the 2019 presidential election.

Indigenous Women Are Defending Weavings From Cultural Appropriation

The vibrant colors of the Indigenous weavings from Guatemala that appear on the traditional blouses known as huipiles, skirts and other items hold a deep symbolic meaning for communities across the Central American country, but they are also deeply intertwined with the promotion of tourism in Guatemala. The intricate designs greet tourists in promotional material at the airport, and companies and non-government organizations have sought to capitalize on the designs. For the last six years, Indigenous women have sought to challenge the exploitation of their sacred designs through the promotion of legislation that would protect their collective intellectual property rights. On Sept. 5, the Women’s Association for the Development of Sacatepéquez, or AFEDES, and the weavers of the Ruchajixik Ri Qana’ojbäl **movement, which means Guardians of Our Knowledge in the Kaqchikel language, presented their latest proposal for a law that would protect their weavings.
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