Tag Archives: Guatemala

Former General Otto Perez Molina Faces Second Round in Guatemala Election

13 Sep

Former Guatemalan General Otto Perez Molina, the candidate that raised grave concern with Guatemalan human rights advocates for his role in the Guatemalan genocide and political violence of the 1980’s will face a second round election against Manuel Balzizon – an affluent businessman running as a populist.

As per usual, Al Jazeera has some of the best coverage:

And there’s coverage from TeleSur (with subtitles):

Some question to ponder on – where is the left in Guatemala? What does this run-off between an ex-general and an entrepreneur with populist rhetoric say about Guatemalan politics today? With the current trend of violence, can campaigns solely be run on a security and mano dura (strong hand) partly line?


Cause for Alarm in Guatemala Election

8 Sep

The former Guatemalan general Otto Perez Molina appears poised to reach power in Sunday’s presidential election. He currently leads in the polls by 30%, according to Guatemala’s El Periodico. 

Notorious for his remark that “La población civil es a la guerrilla, lo que el agua es al pez,” (“The civilian population is to the guerilla, what the sea is to the fish – a statement that so succinctly captures the Guatemalan military’s genocidal civil war policy of collective punishment against the indigenous population – his potential victory this Sunday raises some major eyebrows for observers of human rights in Central America and Guatemala. Molina would be the first military leader to return to power since the 1996 peace accords. His campaign’s  focus on security doesn’t do much to soothe those concerns.

Here he is in action:

There is resistance to be found. There is great fear in Guatemala, no doubt about it, of Perez’s election.

In this video, (which so nicely uses Nicaraguan Carlos Mejía Godoy’s No Pasarán), images of Guatemala’s civil war are juxtaposed with the statement “We will not return to a militarized Guatemala, for our grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, and children, the assassinated and the disappeared, because the spilled blood was not in vain, because yes, there was a genocide, judgement and punishment for Otto Perez Molina.

As talked about on this blog, nobel peace prize winner Rigoberta Menchú will be on the ballot – but she is currently pulling less than 2% in polls. She doesn’t fear monger – but she also hasn’t built a critical mass around her in this second presidential run:

The US “Crime Against Humanity” in Guatemala

2 Sep

Every other week these days we’re learning new details about what Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom has called a “crime against humanity” – it now appears that the US deliberately infected up to 2,500 Guatemalans with STD’s from 1946 to 1948.

A reality check is in order – immediately following the end of World WarII, just as the United States and the western world stood appalled and shocked by the crimes of the Nazi regime, the United States was performing Mengele-like medical experiments on innocent Guatemalans.

Obamas has reportedly apologized and there are a few headlines and stories here and there – but will this alter our dominant narrative on the post-World War II period? Will this inspire a national dialogue on our long-term relations with Guatemalans? What was the thought process? How exactly did the US government arrive at the conclusion that Guatemalans were so inferior that they were apt candidates for human guinea pigs? How does this thinking impact our support for a government that subsequently committed a genocide against its own people? My guess that none of this will come up… The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues will come out with its report and the White House will likely file it away with a brief press release. Sweep it under the rug as soon as possible. I hope I’m wrong.

Granito Screening at NY Latino Film Festival

16 Aug

A Guatemalan court made big news last week in the world of transitional justice and human rights by sentencing four former soldiers to more than 6,000 years each in prison for their role in the 1982 Dos Erres massacre of 201 Guatemalan campesinos.

Apropos and just in time for New Yorkers – Granito – How to Nail a Dictator – a film by Pamela Yates focusing on bringing the Guatemalan Generals responsible for the 1982 massacres to justice is screening at the New York Latino Film Festival on Wednesday night.

Guatemala Wants its Babies Back…

9 Aug

Visitors to Guatemala are reminded to be careful when they approach children given the fear that Americans travel there to kidnap babies. We can sympathize with their fears considering the scores of Guatemalan children adopted by US families over the past decade. The Guatemalan government  has recently taken legal steps to stop the flow of adoptions, slowing them to 50 in 2010 from 4,000 in 2008.

Now a Guatemalan judge has actually taken the step of legally demanding that a US couple give its allegedly stolen Guatemalan baby back. 

While we’re on the topic – this video from the “Fox Files” is just too good – it used to be so easy to adopt a Guatemalan child until the corrupt government got involved. Where will American parents “determined to save” children “from a life of poverty” look to now?

No Soy de Aqui, Ni soy de Alla: Respect for the Life and Music of Facundo Cabral

4 Aug

Facundo Cabral – whose lyrics and music invoked the struggle in Latin America for human rights as well as spirituality, love and the human condition – was ambushed and shot dead in Guatemala on July 9.

The New York Times published this obituary.

Here’s to you señor Cabral