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Wednesday
Aug 23rd
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Guatemala: Resisting Impunity and Taking on New Challenges PDF Print E-mail

Guatemala is one of the most violent and exclusionary countries in the region. Between 1962 and 1996, an estimated 200,000 Guatemalans were killed, one million internally displaced, 45,000 disappeared, 200,000 became refugees, and over 600 massacres were committed, according to the 1999 Historical Clarification Commission report. This recent history, marked by silence and a culture of fear, has changed in the past few decades, beginning with the transition to democracy in 1985 and consolidated with the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996.

Since 1996, however, Guatemala has experienced a process of re-militarization and an escalation of violence, exacerbated by repression by extractive industries and new economic policies where those most affected continue to be campesino and indigenous communities, women and children. The historic trial against general Efraín Ríos Montt, former dictator and SOA grad, and José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, his former head of intelligence – on trial for the genocide of the Ixil Maya, and for crimes against humanity – is perhaps one of the most significant milestones in the demands for the rule of law, the respect for human rights, along with respect for and observance of due process.

In May 2013, a Guatemalan high court sentenced Ríos Montt to 80 years in prison for the genocide of the Ixil maya and crimes against humanity, but the sentence was annulled shortly after. The trial is set to reconvene in 2015, rolling back the entire process to where it was in November 2011, but CALDH and AJR, partner organizations in the case, are appealing this decision. This trial occurred under the government of Otto Pérez Molina, SOA grad and former general directly implicated in human rights violations during the 1980’s. His government does not have a policy in line with respect or protection of human rights, so the symbolic importance of this trial cannot be overlooked. This is the first trial against a former head of state for genocide in history that has taken place in a national court.

In light of the recent trial, SOA Watch has launched a new project inspired by our strategy that without students, there can be no school. At its core, the SOA Watch Legal Initiative aims to look into legal and institutional alternatives that will halt the sending of Latin American troops to SOA/WHINSEC. As a first step to this new strategy, and, SOA Watch has decided to start in Guatemala, and looks forward to contributing to end
a culture of impunity!

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Featured Article
Download the Spring 2016 issue of Presente

The Spring issue contains mobilizing information for the SOA Watch Border Convergence, which is taking place from October 7-10, 2016 at the US/Mexico border in Nogales, and also focuses on recent developments in Latin America and within the SOA Watch movement.

Click here to download a PDF version of the Spring 2016 issue.

As this issue of Presente went to print, our hearts were heavy. The assassination of our dear friend and comrade Berta Cáceres, and the increased repression against social movement groups, have left us shocked and saddened. SOA Watch Latin America liaison Brigitte Gynther traveled to Honduras the morning after she learned about the assassination and has been coordinating SOA Watch’s response together with our partner groups on the ground. If you do not already receive Urgent Action emails from us, please click here to sign up now.

The recent decision by the U.S. judge in North Carolina to extradite one of the perpetrators of the 1989 massacre at the University of San Salvador gives us hope that justice will prevail in the end. It will take all of us to create change! Please join us as we mobilize to the U.S./Mexico border from October 7-10, 2016!

Other articles in this issue cover a protest by SOA Watch in Chile against US bases in Latin America, the FBI surveillance of SOA Watch, updates from Colombia and Mexico, news about the first Border Patrol agent to receive training at WHINSEC, background information about Direct Action, the Youth Encuentro in Guatemala, and more.

Download this issue of Presente here.

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