Stories from Quick Reads and Guatemala
In a new photo essay on MiMundo.org, photojournalist James Rodríguez follows residents of Pambach, Guatemala, as they receive the skeletal remains of six wartime victims who were “taken by the army after a military incursion to the village on June 3rd, 1982, during the de facto government of Efraín Ríos Montt, and were never seen again.”
The victims were exhumed from a mass grave in May 2012 and returned to their families on November 22, 2013.
Swedish photographer and journalist Linda Forsell has just started a Tumblr blog where she will be sharing her project “about young girls that have been sexually abused and have babies as a result of it.” Forsell explains:
Through a strong photographic depiction following the lives of a few of the young girls that are also mothers, I will depict the situation in Guatemala as well as give sexual abuse of girls in general, a face. They idea is to spend much time with 3-5 girls, dispersed over 3 trips to the country. I will aim to depict their normal lives with problems and hope. I will also do audio-recorded interviews to use as an addition in a final slideshow published on the web and hopefully through external media. The material will also result in an exhibition that I hope to travel from Sweden to Guatemala and abroad.
You can also follower her on Twitter.
Guatemalan journalists Carlos Alberto Orellana Chávez was gunned down on Monday, August 19, 2013; he is the fourth journalist killed in Guatemala this year.
In an opinion piece [es] published in Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre, UN's special rapporteur for freedom of expression Frank La Rue denounced “the recent wave of aggressions against journalists in the country,” as Alejandro Martínez reports in The Knight Center's Journalism in the Americas blog:
La Rue criticized the administration of President Otto Pérez Molina for failing to stem crime in the country, siding with private interests, persecuting social leaders and not protecting journalists from judicial harassment, lawsuits, threats, physical aggressions and killings.
“Today violence has turned toward the sectors of the press that hold critical positions toward those in power, because of their social function of investigating and informing, but this year's level of aggressions had not been seen in a decade,” said La Rue, who described the violence as a “step backwards for democracy and (the country's) peace process.”
On the 26th day of the historic Genocide trial against former de facto head of state Efrain Rios Montt and his Head of Intelligence Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, the prosecution and defense gave their closing statements and the main accused, Rios Montt, finally declared.
From the Patagonia to Havana, hundreds of computer users across Latin America are choosing freedom over control by installing free software on their computers. On April 27th, groups of free software enthusiasts will be installing free software in dozens of cities across Latin America as part of FLISOL [es], the Latin American free software installation festival.
The threatening, violation and denial of the undeniable rights the Q'eqchi [indigenous Maya community] have over the land they acquired by their own means so many years ago, together with the stunning violation of basic human rights by evidence of abuse of force, not possibly rested on legal means, are unacceptable crimes and require immediate counteraction by the international community.
On the website Intercontinental Cry, Juliana Maria Soares writes about the ongoing attacks on the Q’eqchi community Saquimo Setana of Coban in central Guatamala. These attacks, “including arson of houses, physical attacks on community members and the arrest of community leaders under false charges,” were reported by the Guatemala Solidarity Project. The organization has put together a petition on Avaaz to demand an end to these attacks.
“Development for who? Will the money stay in the community? No, it goes to fill others’ pockets, and we will continue to live in poverty. What we’re asking now is for the government to cancel all the [mining and hydroelectric] licenses that have been granted.”
In Upside Down World, Kelsey Alford-Jones, Executive Director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA (GHRC), writes about the resistance movement against proposed hydroelectric projects in Santa Cruz Barillas, Guatemala.
As part of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Guatemalan indigenous people held peaceful protests around the country to demand that their rights be respected.
Cultural Survival reported on the peaceful protests which were held on August 9, 2013:
The general sentiment of the protests as sited by Indigenous leader Paulina Culum, was that they were “against the injustice, inequality, and corruption that have plagued [Indigenous] communities in Guatemala over the last 500 years, and continue to do so today”.
Among the extensive list of legal initiatives and requests that were purported during the protests, was the community radio movement’s bill 4087, which proposes the legalization of community radio in the country.
“If this case does not move forward, survivors of Guatemala’s genocide are being victimized all over again,” says Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams, co-founder of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. “They have taken a huge risk in testifying, and many have been harassed, intimidated and threatened. To annul the case would turn the clock back on justice—and would be a victory for impunity.”
Nobel Peace laureates are calling on Guatemalan authorities to proceed with the case against Efraín Ríos Montt. The trial against the former dictator and his former intelligence director was declared invalid last week.