Archive for the ‘Guatemala’ Category

Guatemala, free trade and the campesinos

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

hernandez1[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo, Brazil, for October 12, 2013. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Leonardo Wexell Severo

In an interview with Carta Maior, Daniel Pascual Hernández, coordinator general of the Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC) of Guatemala, explains the motives that drive about one of every nine Guatemalans to migrate to the United States and points out the effects of the Free Trade Agreements, of embassies being turned into business offices for multinational corporations in the Caribbean. “The spoils of war are in the presidency, the business center for concessions, for the privatization of the national heritage,” he declares.

Carta Maior: How does the Comité de Unidad Campesina analyze the present clashes in the Guatemalan countryside?

Daniel Pascual Hernández: We have a high level of concentration of land ownership, which makes the struggle over land in Guatemala quite similar to those in Brazil and Latin America as a whole. From the agrarian point of view, capitalism was instituted in 1871, with coffee, cotton and later with bananas, raw materials for export. That monoculture brought with it a peculiarity: the concentration of land together with the oppression of the indigenous. The law on land began by handing the territory over to the invaders, the colonialists, leaving aside belts so the indigenous would not revolt. There was a period of advances from 1944 to 1954, the decade of democracy, under the governments of Juan José Arévalo and Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, but then came the United States invasion. (more…)

Guatemala: Let the judgment of Ríos Montt continue

Monday, August 5th, 2013


((La Jornada photo by Blanche Petrich))

((La Jornada photo by Blanche Petrich))

Iris Yassmín Barrios interviewed

[Translation of an interview from La Jornada of Mexico City for July 31, 2013. See original here.]

By Blanche Petrich

In a middle-class neighborhood in Guatemala, the capital city, three National Police patrol cars are parked permanently across from a black metal entrance. They are guarding a judge, Iris Yassmín Barrios, whose task it was last May 10 to deliver the following ruling in a courtroom, before the traditional sounding of the gavel:

“That the accused, José Efraín Ríos Montt, is guilty of being the perpetrator of crimes against humanity and of genocide against the lives and the integrity of the civilian inhabitants of villages and settlements located in Santa María Nebaj, San Juan Cotzal and San Gaspar Chajul. For this crime, he is to be sentenced to 30 years in prison with no chance of parole.” (more…)

Government of Guatemala takes action against wave of femicides

Monday, January 30th, 2012


((Jody Williams in Guatemala – AP photo))

Official figures show 705 women killed in 2011

[Translation of an article by Inter Press Service as published in La Jornada of Mexico City on January 30, 2012. See original here.]

Guatemala, January 29 – A wave of femicides in Guatemala, one of the countries with the greatest incidence of these crimes, has resulted in governmental and social actions and the involvement of two Nobel prize laureates in an attempt to halt this savagery against women.

According to reports by the Comisión Presidencial contra el Racismo (Presidential Commission against Racism), in 2011 a total of 705 women in the country lost their lives in acts of violence, most of them by fire arms and because of their gender, compared to 675 the previous year. (more…)

Central America: Northern Triangle countries are being militarized

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Repressive strategies led by former soldiers are the new norm in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador

[Translation of an article from ContraPunto of San Salvador for December 14, 2011. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Gerardo Arbaiza

The Central American Northern Triangle, consisting of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, has been found in several studies to be the most violent region of the world not involved in an armed conflict.

According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Honduras is in first place in the world in homicides, with a rate of 78 for every 100,000 inhabitants, followed by El Salvador with 66 and, three levels below, Guatemala, with a total of 41 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

The World Health Organization considers a country to be in an epidemic when the rate of deaths from any cause reaches ten for every 100,000 inhabitants.

The strategy these countries have adopted recently to reduce these figures is directed at taking members of the armed forces and using them together with police forces for tasks of citizen security. (more…)

Nicaragua challenged, Guatemela approved

Friday, November 25th, 2011


((Daniel Ortega))

[Translation of an article from El Clarín of Chile for November 22. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

Last November 6 Nicaragua and Guatemala both held presidential elections, but while the Nicaraguan elections have been subjected to a series of challenges, those in Guatemala seem to satisfy those who claim to be troubled about the reelection of President Daniel Ortega.

It is striking that nobody is troubled about the triumph of General Otto Pérez Molina, who had been a candidate several times without winning. He was probably helped this time by the judicial denial of permission for Sandra Torres, former wife of current president Álvaro Colom, to run. (more…)

What happened in Guatemala?

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

((Brasil de Fato photo))

A country that for 36 years saw a revolutionary movement, with a political-military strategy, elects as president a former general of the counter insurgency

[Translation of an article from Brasil de Fato of São Paulo for November 9, 2011. See original here.]

By Silvia Álvarez

In contrast with the neighboring countries of El Salvador and Nicaragua, which saw insurgent civil wars that solidified into electoral triumphs, the left in Guatemala seems not to have made the transition into a political party. On Sunday, the 6th, thousands of Guatemalan citizens went to the polls to elect as president the candidate of the extreme right, Otto Pérez Molina of the Partido Patriota (PP). In an electoral dispute whose ideological coloration was dominated by the right, the principal theme of the campaigns was security despite the fact that the country is suffering from other serious problems like poverty and unemployment, aggravated by the tropical storms that devastated the country in the past month. (more…)

Guatemala: Salvadoran legislator denies turn to the right in Central America

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Two rightist candidates will contend for the Guatemalan presidency in November runoff election

[Translation of an article from Diario Tiempo of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, for September 12, 2011,based on an Agence France Presse dispatch. See original here.]

The president of the Salvadoran legislature, leftist Sigfrido Reyes, on Monday denied that the rightist win in Sunday’s elections in Guatemala signals a general turn to the right in Central America.

“Guatemala has taken a step within its democratic development,” said Reyes, who led a mission from the Salvadoran legislature to observe the elections in Guatemala. Two rightists, retired General Otto Pérez and businessman Manuel Baldizón, will compete for the presidency of Guatemala in a runoff in November, as indicated by a count of 95 percent of the polls in the Sunday election.

Reyes, leader of the ruling Frente Farabundo Martí (FMLN) of El Salvador, denied that the results signal “the return to power of the right” in Central America and declared that the case of Guatemala is “atypical.” In Guatemala, “the party institutions are young, some of them weak, in other cases they tend to be short-lived. This last element is very characteristic of the Guatemalan political tradition, so each election is a surprise,” he stressed. The legislator denied a general return to power of the right on the isthmus, affirming that in the other Central American countries “there are established parties (on the left), with histories and with very well defined ideologies.”

Three leftists won presidencies in Central America between 2007 and 2009, an unprecedented occurrence: Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua (Sandinista), Álvaro Colom in Guatemala (Social Democrat) and Mauricio Funes in El Salvador (FMLN). Honduras and Panama have rightist governments, while that of Costa Rica is nominally social democrat but is considered on the right because of its neoliberal policies.

A slow and certain threat in El Salvador

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

ContraPunto photo

[Translation of an article from ContraPunto of El Salvador for March 27, 2011. See original here.]

By Gloria Morán

San Salvador – Years ago fishing became the livelihood for the family of Don Maximiliano Figueroa, now past his 70th birthday. His means of support could now be threatened by mining. He lives in the hamlet of Las Cuevitas, in Metapán, Santa Ana.

The hope of catching something that might help feed him and his family knows no time of day. In the morning or in the afternoon, boats come and go on Güija Lake. (more…)

Guatemala: Trial against former President Portillo begins at last

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

El Periódico photo

[Translation of an article from La Hora of Guatemala for January 21. See original here.  Alfonso Portillo was president of Guatemala from 2000 to 2004. He was elected as the candidate of the Frente Republicano Guatemalteco, the party of brutal dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, the military ruler who had come to power through a coup d’état in 1982.  With political origins on the left, Portillo had pledged to support human rights and fight corruption but his administration was soon charged with serious abuse. He fled the country as soon as his term and the legal immunity it provided ended.]

by Gerson Ortiz

The historical trial of former President Alfonso Portillo and two officials of his government finally began this morning after a delay of several hours due to moves by the defense.

Along with the former president, former Defense Minister Eduardo Arévalo Lacs and former Finance Minister Manuel Maza Castellanos will also be tried, all three for the embezzlement during Portillo’s term in office of 120 million quetzales [about 15.6 million US dollars] from the Defense Ministry. (more…)