Stories from Quick Reads and Guatemala
“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.
Documentary photographer James Rodriguez shares a photo essay with “images from the first day of the historic trial against former de facto dictator Efraín Ríos Montt and former Intelligence Director José Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez. Ríos Montt and Rodriguez Sanchez are charged with Genocide and crimes against humanity during the civil war in Guatemala (1960-1996) against the Ixil Mayan people”.
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.
Rios Montt's lawyer and others believe that the trial is a “political lynching” [...] It doesn't matter if the guerrilas were going to turn “Guatemala into another Cuba;” the rape, torture, starvation and murder of civilians who might or might not have supported the guerrillas is just indefensible. But Rios Montt now has the opportunity to defend his actions and those of the officers who carried out orders on his and the state's behalf.