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NISGUA update

Justice & Accountability

U.S. backs creation of anti-drug military task force; Zeta-connected drug lord Walther Overdick arrested
Army prohibits press and observer access to exhumation in Coban military base
Convictions for Plan de Sanchez and Dos Erres massacres; genocide case advances delayed 

Trade & Globalization

Indigenous Campesino and Popular March calls for change in Guatemala 
Goldcorp AGM to take place in late April: 
We are all Shareholders
Government plans to re-open bidding on Xalala Dam despite community opposition

News from the Grassroots

NISGUA visits Sponsoring Community in D.C. area
Granito: How to Nail a Dictator
 available on DVD
Help us send 1,000 messages of support to the survivors of genocide in Guatemala

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Justice & Accountability

U.S. backs creation of anti-drug military task force; Zeta-connected drug lord Walther Overdick arrested

The Drug War continues to deepen in Guatemala, with the implementation of new militarized approaches to combating the drug trade alongside the successful criminal targeting of key traffickers.  During Holy Week, drug smuggler Horst Walther Overdick was arrested in a joint operation between the U.S. DEA and Guatemala's police forces and on March 30th, Defense Minister Ulises Anzueto announced the creation of the "Tecun Uman" military task force, which will be partially financed by the U.S.  Read more.


Army prohibits press and observer access to exhumation in Coban military base

For three decades, survivors have denounced the military base in Coban, Alta Verapaz, as a killing field and clandestine cemetery for the disappeared of the Guatemalan internal armed conflict. While family members hoping to identify the remains of their loved ones have been allowed to enter the base--after giving their names to military personnel--access has been denied to press and international observers.  Read more. 


Convictions for Plan de Sanchez and Dos Erres massacres; genocide case advances delayed

Legal victories for survivors and human rights advocates continue to mount, with strong convictions delivered in recent weeks for the Plan de Sanchez and Dos Erres massacres.  Meanwhile, lawyers for former dictator Efrain Rios Montt and two members of his Military High Command have used a variety of legal strategies to delay the opening of a trial in which they will be charged with genocide against the Maya Ixil people.  Read more.


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Trade & Globalization

Indigenous Campesino and Popular March Calls for Change in Guatemala

In late March, thousands of people organized as farmworkers, indigenous rights groups and rural communities marched for nine days and protested locally to raise demands for change.  Participants remain skeptical about government promises made following the march, but the event undoubtedly raised the profile of the challenges faced in rural Guatemala, as well as the concrete proposals for change coming from impacted communities. Read more.

Goldcorp AGM to take place in late April: 
We are all Shareholders


The Canadian mining company Goldcorp, Inc., owner and operator of the Marlin I gold mine in Guatemala via its subsidiary Montana Exploradora, S.A., will be holding its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on April 26 in the northern Ontario town of Timmins.  At the AGM, shareholders will vote on a resolution that would require that the corporation 1) publicly disclose its closure plan for the Marlin Mine, along with any future alteration to this plan; 2) begin consulting with the affected communities to define the closure plan; 3) raise from US$1 million to US$49 million the surety bond paid to the Guatemalan government to guarantee the proper reclamation of the mine site in the event of an unanticipated withdrawal.  Stay tuned for our coalition action in support of the resolution next week, as well as updates and perspectives from coalition partners.

Government plans to re-open bidding on Xalala Dam despite community opposition


Guatemala's National Electrification Institute (INDE) plans to re-open bidding for the controversial Xalala hydro-electric dam in June 2013, despite ongoing opposition by indigenous communities which would be impacted by the proposed megaproject.  Read more.

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News from the Grassroots


NISGUA visits Sponsoring Community in D.C. area

In March, Partners for Arlington in Guatemala (PAG), a project of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA (UUCA), sponsored a visit from NISGUA Guatemala City staff person Bridget Brehen.  In addition to meeting with the leadership and projects of the church, NISGUA coordinated meetings with Congress.  

Representatives of NISGUA, PAG and GHRC met with Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations Senator John Kerry and House Representative Raúl Grijalva.  The groups urged the representatives to maintain the military funding ban against Guatemala and shared concerns about the current human rights climate under the new administration.  We were happy to report progress in the national genocide cases, which Congressional representatives had urged the Guatemalan government to move forward thanks to a Congressional letter authored by Rep. Grijalva in 2006.

Read Bridget's reflection on her visit to Arlington on our blog.


Help us send 1,000 messages of support to the survivors of genocide in Guatemala


At a time of unprecedented victories and hope in Guatemala, parallel with increasing concerns about the safety and security of human rights defenders, it is critical that we send our messages of solidarity to the people we accompany.  Help us reach our goal of 1,000 signatures by signing, forwarding and Facebooking our online petition in support of the survivors and witnesses of the historic genocide cases now moving forward in the Guatemalan courts.  

We will be personally presenting these signatures and messages of solidarity to the membership of the Association for Justice and Reconciliation during their next national meeting, so help us get to 1,000 today


Granito: How to Nail a Dictator
 available on DVD

The latest documentary from Pamela Yates and Skylight Pictures is now available on DVD.  The powerful documentary has incredible images from the internal armed conflict and highlights the stories of those that have sought justice.  We have been in conversations with Skylight Pictures and our Guatemalan partner organizations about how we can use the documentary as a tool in the North to educate the public and raise support for our long-term accompaniment of survivor associations and their legal advocates.  

Contact NISGUA Board member Melinda Van Slyke atmelinda@nisgua.org to purchase a copy for $20 and please let us know if you are interested in hosting a screening in your community, as there are a number of ways to do so.