On January 28, in a resolution, the Registry of Citizens of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) rejected the Presidential Ticket of Thelma Cabrera and Jordan Rodas for the People’s Liberation Movement Party (MLP). Claiming that the registration of former Ombudsman and Vice Presidential hopeful Jordan Rodas was not valid, the TSE argued that Rodas cannot run for Vice President because he currently faces legal complaints and charges. The party was given three days to challenge the resolution.
MLP party leadership filed an appeal to annul the resolution on January 30, rejecting the decision to block its presidential nomination. The legal team was joined by a crowd carrying signs and who chanted in protest of the decision as the team delivered the appeal to the TSE headquarters. Rodas responded on twitter, stating, “Democracy in Guatemala has taken another step backwards; they fear the people and their sovereign decisions.” “With that decision that they made, they are demonstrating electoral fraud. The decision is not against him [Rodas] but against the participation of the people,” Cabrera said.
Meanwhile, presidential tickets from ten other parties were authorized, including the nomination of Zury Ríos for the VALOR-Unionista party. Ríos is the daughter of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, who ruled from 1982 to 1983 and was convicted of genocide in 2013.
Judges Rules to Close Case Against Criminalizing Chicoyoguito Defenders
The trial against the Chicoyogüito defenders began on January 24 at the Second Sentencing Court of Cobán, Alta Verapaz. Criminalized for defending their ancestral territory, 21 Indigenous Q’eqchi community members faced charges of “usurpation related to a demonstration” in which they demanded the restitution of land that was stolen from their community in the 1960s to create a military encampment. Judge Walter Chen, after listening to the arguments from both parties, ruled to close the case in favor of the defenders with the requirement that they adhere to
the “Opportunity Criterion” presented by the Public Ministry (MP).
“Opportunity Criterion”–as defined in Guatemalan Law–is a power held by the MP that allows it to refrain from initiating new criminal procedures or to close ongoing proceedings. In it, the parties agree that in order not to go to trial or prison, the accused persons must carry out some form of restitution to society for their alleged crimes. As recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food, the 21 defenders must carry out four days of community service and release a public communication.
One Year Post-Victory, Achi Women Press State to Carry Out Reparations
On the one-year anniversary of their victory over their abusers, survivors from the Mujeres Achí, or “Achi Women,” case demanded compliance with the last year’s sentence. On January 24, 2022, High Risk Court “A” ruled in favor of the Achi Women, sentencing the five former Civil Defense Patrolers (PAC) to 30 years in prison for crimes against humanity in the form of sexual violence. The sentence–delivered by Judge Yasmin Barrios–also included a list of reparation measures to benefit the survivors, their communities, and Guatemala more broadly. Represented by the Rabinal Legal Clinic (ABJPR), the women filed a request to resolve pending appeals and carry out the reparation measures.
Organized into the four categories of economic compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and guarantee of non-repetition, the reparations include provisions to not only assist the direct victims, but future generations. In addition to compensation, the reparations measures call for the installation of health centers in the communities of the survivors, training programs on human rights and violence and women, and training for state security forces. According to survivor and leader Maxima Valey, however, the reparations “have not been realized in our communities.” In March, the Attorney General’s Office denied responsibility for carrying them out, claiming that many of the measures are already addressed in the 1996 Peace Accords. The women rejected its decision, urging that “the public institutions that were identified as responsible for fulfilling the reparation measures assume an active role and initiate the necessary actions to implement each measure.”
Last September, the women shared their demands with policymakers and government officials in Washington, DC. After accepting one of the Washington Office on Latin America’s (WOLA) 2022 Human Rights Awards, Valey exposed the lack of compliance by the Guatemalan government in a series of meetings arranged by GHRC. She told our team that while she feels an immeasurable pride in having won the case, “That was just the beginning.” She continued, “We will keep fighting until the last reparation is carried out.”
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GHRC remains committed to supporting human rights in Guatemala, working tirelessly to advocate for and support those on the front lines of the struggle. With elections in Guatemala looming amidst a constant deterioration of human rights conditions, we want to be as prepared as possible to respond to threats and attacks made against human rights defenders. We need your help!
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