Tag Archives | Guatemala

Mayans Defeat Monsanto In Guatemala

Anga Bottione-Rossi00Who’s got the cojones to stand up to Monsanto and send them packing? The Mayans of Guetamala, that’s who!

IC Magazine reports on the recent victory of the Mayan People’s Movement against Monsanto’s attempt to bring their patented, genetically engineered seeds into Guatemala, displacing traditional seed diversity:

On September 4th, after ten days of widespread street protests against the biotech giant Monsanto’s expansion into Guatemalan territory, groups of indigenous people joined by social movements, trade unions and farmer and women’s organizations won a victory when congress finally repealed the legislation that had been approved in June.

The demonstrations were concentrated outside the Congress and Constitutional Court in Guatemala City during more than a week, and coincided with several Mayan communities and organizations defending food sovereignty through court injunctions in order to stop the Congress and the President, Otto Perez Molina, from letting the new law on protection of plant varieties, known as the “Monsanto Law”, take effect.

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Border Children and the Obama-Backed Coup that the Media Doesn’t Talk About

central-america-map

Most of the border children are coming from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador

Ted Rall writes at Common Dreams:

If you’re reading this, you probably follow the news. So you’ve probably heard of the latest iteration of the “crisis at the border”: tens of thousands of children, many of them unaccompanied by an adult, crossing the desert from Mexico into the United States, where they surrender to the Border Patrol in hope of being allowed to remain here permanently. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention and hearing system has been overwhelmed by the surge of children and, in some cases, their parents. The Obama Administration has asked Congress to approve new funding to speed up processing and deportations of these illegal immigrants.

Even if you’ve followed this story closely, you probably haven’t heard the depressing backstory — the reason so many Central Americans are sending their children on a dangerous thousand-mile journey up the spine of Mexico, where they ride atop freight trains, endure shakedowns by corrupt police and face rapists, bandits and other predators.

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The U.S. Media’s Silence On The Landmark Guatemalan Genocide Trial

genocideThe Center for Economic and Policy Research wrote last month:

Ten days ago Guatemalan courts convicted former dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt, to 80 years in prison for charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Though the ruling has just been overturned on technical grounds (the trial is expected to backtrack to where it stood on April 19, before again resuming), it was the first time that a country has been able to use its own criminal courts to try a former head of state for genocide, arguably making it one of the most important court decisions in decades.

Despite the significance of the ruling, not just for what it represents for the more than 200,000 victims of the genocide and their families, but also for human rights worldwide, the mass media in the U.S. has mostly ignored the U.S. role in contributing to and supporting the genocide.

The New York Times provided a couple of exceptions in the last week.

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Amazing Events Unfolding in Guatemala: “All of the crimes that Rigoberta Menchú just described were crimes not just of General Ríos Montt, but also of the U.S. government”

via chycho
Efrain Rios Montt - Reagan

For those who have been following the story, below you will find the initial impact of the genocide conviction of ex-Guatemalan dictator Ríos Montt.

The majority of the coverage in the two videos linked below is with Rigoberta Menchú, the woman largely responsible for making sure that Ríos Montt was brought to justice. It is a powerful interview with an amazing individual, a testament to her courage, and a fitting tribute to the victims of genocide.

In the second segment, Allan Nairn joins the discussion for a short commentary, the highlight of which is the following:

“All of the crimes that Rigoberta Menchú just described were crimes not just of General Ríos Montt, but also of the U.S. government. The U.S. prosecutors in Washington should immediately convene a grand jury with two missions: first, coming to the aid of the Guatemalan attorney general, who has just been ordered by the court to investigate all others involved in Ríos Montt’s crimes, by releasing all classified U.S.

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Former Guatemalan Dictator Convicted Of Genocide

guatemalan dictator

The military dictatorship led by Montt slaughtered thousands upon thousands of villagers in an effort to exterminate Guatemala’s indigenous ethnic Mayan population, which it regarded as sympathetic to leftist rebels. No word on whether the CIA and Ronald Reagan will be tried posthumously as accessories. Reuters reports:

Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt was found guilty on Friday of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to 80 years in prison. It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.

Montt, now 86, took power after a coup in 1982 and implemented a scorched-earth policy in which troops massacred thousands of indigenous villagers thought to be helping leftist rebels.

Prosecutors say Montt turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to try to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during his 1982-1983 rule, the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as 250,000 people died.

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Guatemalan Lawsuit Against Canadian Mining Giant May Set Precedent

via CorpWatchBehemoth

A group of indigenous Mayan Q’eqchi’ have filed three civil lawsuits in Canada against HudBay Minerals Inc. of Toronto for alleged human rights atrocities committed by its subsidiaries – HMI Nickel, Skye Resources and Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel – at the company’s nickel mine in eastern Guatemala.

The outcome of this cross border lawsuit is being closely watched by human rights activists after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a case against Shell for aiding and abetting human rights abuses in Nigeria on the grounds that Shell did not have sufficient ties to the U.S.

However the Supreme Court decision left open the possibility that U.S. companies could be sued in U.S. courts for human rights abuses abroad. Thus a legal decision that allows Canadian companies to be sued in their home country, would also help fill the legal vacuum that multinationals have often taken advantage of historically to escape liability.

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Today, dedicate an hour of your life to watching Democracy Now’s coverage of Guatemala’s Genocide Trial

via chycho

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While every major news source is bombarding us with what’s transpiring in the United States today, Democracy Now dedicated their full program to the genocide trial taking place in Guatemala and why a judge suspended the trial of the former US-backed dictator.

The following are the two segments presented on Democracy Now. They are essential viewing and well worth the time.

Part 1: Genocide Trial of Former Dictator Ríos Montt Suspended After Intervention by Guatemalan President

Part 2: Exclusive: Allan Nairn Exposes Role of U.S. and New Guatemalan President in Indigenous Massacres

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Hands-on Tikal

Embraer 110 Bainderante small twin-turboprop

The Embraer 110 Bainderante doesn’t look exactly brand-new. Later on I’ll read that this small twin-turboprop was last produced in 1990, which means that the one we were flying on was at least 23 years old, though I’d say a few more. The din inside is deafening, so even if I wanted to say some (famous) last words to my wife, she wouldn’t hear them. It’s strange how we shy away from risk at home, wear seatbelts religiously, pay insurance on this and that, but throw all caution to the wind when traveling to exotic places. The thing is, Tikal remains a difficult place to reach, and even when flying in, the airport of Santa Elena is about seventy minutes away by bus from the archeological marvel.

Once inside the minibus a guide tells us that the Petén, the vast region that makes up Northern Guatemala, used to be all jungle, but then was deforested only to find out, after what must have been a herculean task, that the soil was not suitable for farming: too thin, sitting on top of limestone ridges.… Read the rest

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Key Mayan Temple Tikal Irreparably Damaged By Tourists Celebrating The Apocalypse

December 21 did provide a minor doomsday of sorts for the Mayans, as a priceless temple was overrun and desecrated by hordes. The Telegraph reports:

Tourists flocking to Guatemala for “end of the world” parties have damaged an ancient stone temple at Tikal, the largest archeological site and urban centre of the Mayan civilisation. More than 7,000 people visited Tikal on Friday to see native Mayan priests hold a colourful ceremony and light fires as the sun emerged to mark the new era.

“Sadly, many tourists climbed Temple II and caused damage,” said Osvaldo Gomez, a technical adviser at the site, located 340 miles north of Guatemala City. “We are fine with the celebration, but (the tourists) should be more aware because this is a (UNESCO) World Heritage Site,” he told local media. Gomez did not specify what was done, [but] did say it was forbidden to climb the stairs at the site and indicated that the damage was irreparable.

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U.S. Reviews Syphilis Experiment In Guatemala: Researchers Knew It Was Unethical

Tuskeegee_studyAll too often groups of people are unknowingly infected with disease as a means of isolated experimentation. Earlier this week the Commision for the Study of Bioethical Issues reviewed the 1940s incident  where the U.S. government infected Guatemalan prisoners and patients with syphilis. Via Reuters:

U.S. government researchers must have known they were violating ethical standards by deliberately infecting Guatemalan prison inmates and mental patients with syphilis for an experiment in the 1940s, according to a U.S. presidential commission.

The U.S.-funded research in Guatemala did not treat participants as human beings, failing to even inform them they were taking part in research, as was the case for a similar study in the United States, the commission said on Monday.

The United States apologized last year for the experiment, which was meant to test the drug penicillin, after it was uncovered decades later by a college professor.

President Barack Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues investigated the syphilis experiment and discussed its key findings in Washington on Monday.

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