An opinion from HRW.
Innovation cannot be understood without its context. Recent developments in Guatemala help to explain emerging innovative proposals.
Like many other Latin American countries, Guatemala has a very repressive political history. After years of dictatorship and intense armed conflict that caused the disappearance and death of 190.000 people, “clandestine security squads” are still using violent practices that violate human rights – often with the participation of public agents.
During the 90s, a peace deal was signed. However, violent practices remained common and the historical trauma remained vividly present in the Guatemalan imaginary. In 2007, an International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICG) was created to support the State Prosecution in its fight to break up violent illegal groups. In recent years, the Commission also began investigating corruption in the country. In 2015, it ended up charging the Vice-President (and later the President) for corruption.
Criminalization sets a context in which the range of human rights violations experienced by sex workers is validated. Cross-movement collaboration on decriminalizing sex work is needed, now, more than ever.
In mid-November, I attended a RedTraSex meeting to review “Advances, challenges and strategies of the RedTraSex: strengthening sustainability and advancing the recognition of our rights.” RedTraSex is the Red de Mujeres Trabajadoras Sexuales de Latinamérica y el Caribe (Network of Sex Workers of Latin America and the Caribbean.) RedTraSex, on the cusp of celebrating its 20th anniversary, is made up of organizations from fifteen countries – Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Dominican Republic.
During the Cold War, the CIA did everything it’s accusing Russia of doing today — and more.
Even in an election year as shot through with conspiracy theories as this one, it would have been hard to imagine a bigger bombshell than Russia intervening to help Donald Trump. But that’s exactly what the CIA believes happened, or so unnamed “officials brief on the matter” told the Washington Post.
While Russia had long been blamed for hacking email accounts linked to the Clinton campaign, its motives had been shrouded in mystery. According to the Post, though, CIA officials recently presented Congress with a “a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources” that “electing Trump was Russia’s goal.”
The UN-sponsored International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has shaken the country’s political system to its core. However, the long-term consequences remain to be seen.
The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG)—founded in 2007 by a mutual agreement between the UN and the Guatemalan government—has shaken up the country’s entire political system. The Commission’s original mandate was aimed at dismantling organized criminal bands that ran rampant after the end of the country’s brutal 36-year armed conflict, including training and supporting the Public Ministry, the National Police and other entities of the Guatemalan state. CICIG was also conceived as an international support mission to “build-up” judicial institutions in Guatemala. Since its inception, the Commission has developed into a powerful political force, amassing significant legitimacy in the eyes of many Guatemalans. The commission’s success and prominence was a welcome development, gaining support outside of the elite circles.
Feminists in Mexico and Guatemala working on femicide also use the concept of ‘feminicide’ to draw attention to state complicity in the killings of women.
The word ‘feminicide’ was popularised over twenty years ago to denounce the killing of women due to their gender. The crime is called ‘feminicide’ (‘feminicidio’) in Mexico and ‘femicide’ (‘femicidio’) in Guatemala. Although there have been some attempts to differentiate the two concepts, both terms emerge as a form of resistance: to assert that women’s lives matter, and such crimes should not go unpunished. Impunity contributes to the normalisation of the feminicide machine. This ‘machine’ is supported by gender inequality as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights have suggested.
The murder of 22-year-old Jeremy Barrios, a young environmentalist in Guatemala, has increased concerns over the threats that environmentalist defenders endure and the failure of the state to provide protection to organisations under threat.
Barrios was shot and killed in Guatemala city on November 12. His murder is in many ways a dark symbol for Guatemala, a country in the top ten most vulnerable countries to climate change, where the average age of the population is, precisely, 22 and where at least ten environmental activists – most of them indigenous – were murdered in 2015.
32,952 Unaccompanied Minors Arrested between October and May
The number of unaccompanied immigrant children detained at the southwestern US border continues to increase and has exceeded the figures recorded for 2015, according to data released by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CPB).
With four months remaining in the fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2015, it was revealed that 32,952 unaccompanied children have been detained by border authorities, compared to 39,970 that were recorded throughout the previous fiscal year.
If we compare the data recorded up to April of this fiscal year with those in 2014 when there was a wave of child immigrating from Central America (described as a “humanitarian crisis”), the numbers show a similar situation could be repeated this time around.
Why do girls, adolescents and women migrate? Why would they leave their countries of origin and embark on the misadventure of an undocumented journey with the certainty that they will suffer on the way? And if they do make it, will they be able to survive and deal with the post-border hell? That’s if they reach their destination at all and avoid becoming one more statistic in the number of the disappeared and dead in a migration through no-man’s-land, without any authority searching for them and dignifying them by using their names and recognizing their identities.
This is a tragedy even if you only imagine it, but this is a reality, and Guatemala is forcing thousands of girls, adolescents and women to attempt to save their lives in another country. The United States appears to be the closest helping hand, but this is only a fantasy arising out of desperation. It is well known that the USA’s immigration policy disrespects the human and labour rights of undocumented persons. Abuse by smugglers, the Mexican authorities and the Border Patrol turns the journey into the worst of all hells for any human being. And the viciousness with which girls, adolescents and women are violated is appalling. Why does forced immigration and these abuses continue to be invisible and overlooked? What is the benefit for those governments involved?
Across Guatemala, both rural communities and urban centers have mobilized to protest the systematic theft and privatization of water by transnational companies and the Guatemalan oligarchy. On April 22, nearly 15,000 gathered in Guatemala City to demand an end to this control over water. Marchers had set out on April 11 from the city of Tecun Unam in the northwest department of San Marcos, and from Puruhá, Baja Verapaz. The various columns of demonstrators walked over 263 miles for 11 days to demand that the state address the right to water across the country.