CRLN has reported on Guatemala’s constitutional crisis already, with concern about President Morales’ defiance of Constitutional Court rulings and military backing for his attempts to oust the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala. This is especially problematic this year, with Guatemala’s presidential and Congressional elections scheduled in June. There are already indications that the current Guatemalan administration is trying to manipulate the outcome.

In addition, in the past months, the Guatemalan Congress has prepared a law granting amnesty for those who perpetrated war crimes. The amnesty would be granted retroactively to those few who have already been convicted and jailed, wiping away decades of painstaking work to get justice for the victims who were tortured, raped, and/or murdered. There was an international outcry against the legislation, and on the day the vote was to take place, enough members of Congress walked out that there was no quorum, and the vote was postponed. However, CRLN is concerned that it will come up for a vote again.

Those who are guilty of these crimes still wield a great deal of power, and they are trying various ways to sneak amnesty for themselves into other legislation. For example, Congress, under the guise of finding a solution for the problem of overcrowding in Guatemalan prisons, also has drafted a bill that would set free anyone over 70–those in command during the Guatemalan Civil War would all be over 70.

State-sponsored violence and criminalization against human rights defenders has been on the rise in Guatemala in the last few years.The Worldwide Movement for Human Rights (fidh) reports that in 2018, 26 human rights defenders were murdered, the majority of them Indigenous people defending their lands from mining and other extractive projects. Guatemalan human rights organization UDEFEGUAreported 493 attacks against human rights defenders in Guatemala in 2017.

For all of these reasons, CRLN will ask members of Congress from Illinois to suspend funding for Guatemala until democratic process, rule of law, and protection for human rights is a reality.

For more information on the constitutional crisis, click here

Sharon Hunter-Smith

Sharon Hunter-Smith has blogged 590 posts