Have you seen this news? Yesterday, despite international pressure to veto the bill, President Giammattei signed into law bill 5257. This regressive law, also known as the NGO law, puts national and international human rights organizations at risk. Read more below! This month, we also present updates on Julio Gómez's case, locations of our upcoming speaking tour, as well as demands of genocide survivors on the Day of Dignity for Victims of the Internal Armed Conflict.
21st Celebration of the Day of Dignification for Victims
February 25th marked the 21st anniversary of the presentation of the UN-sponsored Historical Clarification Commission Report for Truth and Reconciliation. The report, Guatemala: Memory of Silence, documented the crimes that the Guatemalan state committed against its own people during the Internal Armed Conflict (1960-1996). The report concluded that there were over 200,000 deaths, over 45,000 disappearances, and more than 1.5 million internally displaced people. The Guatemalan armed forces were responsible for 93% of these atrocities.
Each year, on the National Day of Dignification for Victims, communities around Guatemala remember what they survived and those they lost during the genocide. We are always honored to stand with survivors, victims, and their families to demand justice and accountability for the violence committed by state forces.
Art installation by CALDH at the Festival of Remembrance
Photo credit: Nicole Estrada, NISGUA accompanier.
“We are concerned that the plans of the current government do not account for specific policies that would comply with the Peace Accords or protect the rights of victims. We reject the statements made by the Private Secretary of the Presidency, who requested proposals to reform the National Reconciliation Law, even though sentences were passed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that clearly prohibit Guatemala from approving amnesties for the crimes of the Internal Armed Conflict.”
Excerpt from the Statement of Victims and Survivors of the Internal Armed Conflict.
Julio Gómez released from pre-trial detention; continues to be criminalized
On January 26th, Maya Chuj ancestral authority and water protector Julio Gómez Lucas was en route to Chiantla, Huehuetenango when the police detained him without an arrest warrant. After the state rescheduled his trial and moved him between jails multiple times, Mr. Gómez had his first declaration hearing on February 1st.
The judge found that there was not enough evidence for the most serious crimes that Mr. Gómez was accused of -- coercion and attempted murder -- which left the state unable to continue to incarcerate him. However, the judge did indict Mr. Gómez for inciting crimes, and participating in illegal meetings or manifestations and violent groups. These criminalizing charges force him to be on house arrest, come to the courthouse every fifteen days, and not leave the country. These charges are classic examples of how the Guatemalan state silences organizers and community leaders through incarceration or the threat thereof.
The Guatemalan state is criminalizing Mr. Gómez for his leadership in the resistance against violent imposition of three hydroelectric dams in Ixquisis, Huehuetenango. Mr. Gómez is a leader within the Plurinational Ancestral Government Akateko, Chuj, Q’anjob’al, and Popti’ and is a survivor of kidnapping, torture, and defamation for his defense of life and Indigenous territory.
On February 27, President Giammattei signed into law Decree 4-2020, formerly known as Bill 5257 or the NGO Law. Guatemalan social movements as well as national and international organizations have pointed out that this initiative is antidemocratic, regressive, limits political rights, and threatens people who work in the defense of life. We are extremely worried about the impacts this will have on our Guatemalan partners and allied international organizations. We fear that this law could further criminalize social movements and suppress dissent.
The Constitutional Court still has to resolve a series of lawsuits that considered this law to be unconstitutional. Stay tuned for further information on how to get involved!
Spring 2020 speaking tour: “Ancestral Movements: Indigenous Territory and Migration”
Want to organize a screening of the webinar? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information! Details regarding specific events in each city will be released soon!
Reduced price 2020 calendars!
We still have a number of beautiful 2020, "Art as resistance" calendars available and now you can purchase them at a reduced price of $10 each! Each month features a beautiful photo highlighted how art is resistance and resistance is art. Order yours today!
For nearly four decades, NISGUA has supported Guatemalans resisting U.S. imperialism, militarization, and extractivism, the same forces that often drive people from their homes. Please donate today to support our continued accompaniment, advocacy, and political education.