Guatemala, a New President while the Old Leaves With Further Repression and Impunity

Lisa Rankin, of Breaking the Silence, writes on their blog site about the change-over but lack of change.

January 14 was the inauguration of the new Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei. He is known as a hard-line right-wing conservative with a promise of more militarization in the country, against LGBTQ+ rights and in support of the death penalty. The new Congress was also sworn in that morning and new mayors take possession the next day.

January 14th was marked by protests against the outgoing president and Congress members, as civil society demanded that arrest warrants be executed against outgoing President Jimmy Morales. For a brief moment, Jimmy Morales lost immunity, in between handing over the presidency to Giammattei and his appointment to the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) where he regained immunity-only a matter of hours. Morales has a number of legal cases against him from his time as president, including misuse of public funds. Protestors blocked the entrance to the  PARLACEN building, and the swearing-in ceremony was held in a Guatemala City hotel five hours late. 

During the protest outside the hotel, police attacked protestors, poisoning human rights defenders with tear gas and injuring and arresting six students from San Carlos University. The students gave their First Declaration this morning and the presiding judge threw out the case and ordered the Public Prosecutor to investigate the abuse of authority by the Guatemalan police. The new government has stated that they were not aware of the incident and that an investigation into the violence used by police will take place.

BTS partner, the Highland Small Farmers Committee (CCDA), held a press conference this morning to express concern at the lack of consideration of the Giammattei government on the resolution of land conflicts.

“As everyone knows, yesterday was an important day in Guatemalan politics, with the change of government and members of Congress. It is very important to note that the block which represents the right, the oligarchy, big business, has maintained control of Congress- those who have brought this country into misery, robbery of lands, and repression. Sadly, the Pact of the Corrupt, this criminal alliance, continues to advance in Guatemala, and yesterday they imposed an Executive Committee for Congress that will continue to respond to these interests.”

In addition, the Public Prosecutor issued arrest warrants for numerous public officials who lost immunity, as they were not reelected. Accusations focused on the traffic of influences.

Then, on Friday, January 17, his third day in government, Giammattei declared a State of Prevention in the municipalities of Mixco and San Juan Sacatepequez. San Juan Sacatepequez has been the site of conflict since 2005, as Cementos Progresos installed a sand and gravel mine without consultation. The project was met with resistance from Kaqchikel communities affected by the project. As a result, community leaders have faced attacks and criminalization.

Breaking the Silence partners with the Highland Small Farmers Committee (CCDA), and you can read the full article including more of CCDA’s contribution, here.



Categories: Criminalisation, Environment, Gender, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Legal, Military, Mining, Poverty, Solidarity in Action

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