3 años… y contando

Bernardo Caal Xol

Bernardo Caal Xol, defensor del agua y del medio ambiente, lleva exactamente tres años en prisión. Es un hombre inocente.

Hoy 30 de enero, que se cumplen 3 años de la injusta detención de Bernardo Caal Xol, profesor y defensor indígena maya q’eqchi’ de los derechos humanos, manifestamos nuestra preocupación porque aún las cortes continúan dilatando las acciones de revisión de su caso, sabiendo que los delitos por los que se le acusaron y condenaron a 7 años y 4 meses de prisión no están bien sustentados. Este retardo malicioso es una perversa forma para mantenerlo preso y alejado de su familia, de su pueblo y sus justas demandas.  

Bernardo ha denunciado que es por defender los derechos de su comunidad y proteger el río Cahabón -considerado sagrado para el pueblo Q’eqchi’- que actores poderosos buscan silenciar su voz y anular su trabajo. Afirma que la compañía hidroeléctrica OXEC S.A., financiada por inversionistas de España y Guatemala, ha querido hacer de él el ejemplo de lo que le sucederá a cualquiera que quiera manifestar su oposición a esos grandes megaproyectos.

El 16 de julio de 2020, Amnistía Internacional (AI) ha declarado al defensor Bernardo Caal Xol como preso de conciencia, en carta a Consuelo Porras, Fiscal General del Ministerio Público. AI señala que tuvo acceso al expediente penal y pudo comprobar serias irregularidades, negligencias y faltas de fundamento en la investigación realizada por el MP.

Nos sumamos a las diferentes manifestaciones de apoyo, de solidaridad y sobre todo de preocupación porque Bernardo continúa detenido y demandamos a las autoridades guatemaltecas que se haga justicia en este caso de criminalización.

Libertad para Bernardo Caal Xol - preso de conciencia

Criminalizar a las personas defensoras de derechos humanos, que defienden los bienes naturales, es una afrenta no sólo para el defensor, para su pueblo, es una afrenta a la humanidad entera. Hoy más que nunca, frente a este escenario de pandemia global, en dónde el agua es uno de los bienes fundamentales para combatirla, es un deber exigir que todas aquellas personas que en diferentes partes del mundo son criminalizadas por su defensa sean liberadas. 

¡Bernardo Caal Xol es un defensor de la vida y exigimos su liberación!


La foto de Bernardo fue tomada por Héctor Herrera.

Article: Lessons From Guatemala’s Commission Against Impunity

“No more corruption.” Photo by Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters

by Matthew M. Taylor
Council on Foreign Relations

Guatemala has made notable gains in the fight against corruption and impunity in the last decade. President Otto Perez Molina resigned in 2015 and was tried and jailed on charges of corruption, alongside his vice president and several ministers. Several prominent criminal figures have been extradited to the United States, including another former president, Alfonso Portillo. Supreme Court justices and members of congress have been removed from office, drug lords jailed, and extortion rings dismantled. The overall impunity rate for homicides fell from 95 percent to 72 percent between 2006 and 2012.

Bodies such as CICIG can help combat deeply embedded criminal networks that threaten economic development, the rule of law, and the sustainability of fledgling democracies. But they are not a panacea, and their effectiveness will require a strategic approach that prioritizes the long-term development of home-grown capacity.

Central to these efforts is the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (known by its Spanish acronym, CICIG), an independent body with investigative and prosecutorial powers set up by the United Nations and Guatemala. Headed by an appointee of the UN secretary-general with funding and staff from several donor countries, it has slowly grown in power and capacity, cooperating successfully with local prosecutors in cases against high-level political figures, as well as in drafting important criminal justice reforms. In an environment marked by weak institutions and extensive impunity, CICIG has been an extraordinary governance innovation.

Read the comprehensive report at the Council on Foreign Relations website.

A new beginning!

Co-directors Dania and RobIt is with tremendous pleasure that we announce the inauguration of our organization, the Human Rights Defenders Project! Our passion and purpose is to serve and support human rights defenders in Guatemala. We hope that you will join us and help us to build this dream together.

¡Con gran placer anunciamos la inauguración de nuestra organización, The Human Rights Defenders Project! Nuestra pasión y propósito es servir y apoyar a defensoras y defensores de los derechos humanos de Guatemala. ¡Esperamos que ustedes se nos unan para construir este sueño juntos!

– Dania Rodríguez & Rob Mercatante –

Guatemala high court lifts immunity of presidential adviser

Finally, some positive news from Guatemala:

Guatemala’s Supreme Court on Wednesday granted a request by prosecutors to lift the immunity of Edgar Justino Ovalle, a lawmaker and adviser to President Jimmy Morales.

Ovalle has been linked to the kidnapping of multiple people in 1983 and 1984, when he was second in command of a military zone in Coban, north of Guatemala City. The victims were later killed and buried in clandestine graves on a military base. More than 500 human remains have been found in the area.

Aura Elena Farfan, president of the Association of Detained and Disappeared Family Members of Guatemala, praised Wednesday’s ruling.

“For us as relatives, it is encouraging,” said Farfan, who is a plaintiff in the case. “It gives us hope and strength and we hope due process is followed.”

Read the article: Guatemala high court lifts immunity of presidential adviser | News OK