External resources relating to Guatemala

On the 20th floor of an office tower in the heart of Toronto’s financial district, Irma Yolanda Choc Cac’s bright pink embroidered blouse and handwoven skirt contrasted with the suits of the lawyers around her as she detailed the hardest day of her life.

It was the first time Choc Cac had ever left Guatemala. But the story that she and 10 other Maya Q’eqchi’ women had come to tell is at the heart of a precedent-setting legal challenge pitting indigenous people against a transnational corporation – and which has cast a chill over Canada’s vast mining industry.

The case centres on allegations dating back to 2007, when the women say hundreds of police, military and and private security personnel linked to a Canadian mining company descended on the secluded village of Lote Ocho in eastern Guatemala.

Here in Canada and throughout the Americas, many governments have embraced resource extraction as the key sector to fuel economic growth, neglecting other sectors – or even at their expense. This is creating unprecedented demand for land and other resources, such as water and energy. In Latin America, economic dependency on intensive primary resource extraction has become known as ‘extractivism’.

Increasingly, when Indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples, farmers, environmentalists, journalists, and other concerned citizens speak out against this model for economic growth, particular projects and/or their impacts, they become the targets of threats, accusations, and smears that attempt to label and punish them as enemies of the state, opponents of development, delinquents, criminals, and terrorists. In the worst cases, this leads to physical violence and murder.

Guatemala, Peru, and Mexico provide examples of intensified criminalization, where there has been little pause in neoliberal deregulation of the mining sector since the 1990s...

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the militarization of domestic security is bad for human rights and has little impact on crime and violence in the long term. So what keeps attracting Latin American governments to adopt these “iron fist” policies?

Latin America is witnessing a steady movement toward the militarization of the police, with the armed forces taking over many of the day to day functions of community policing.  But given Latin America’s past troubles with military governments, this development is raising serious concerns. In the 1960s and 1970s a spate of coups across the region brought harsh right-wing regimes to power, with the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay deploying their militaries as internal security forces, purging their countries of domestic political opponents, real and imagined. Now many fear that we may be heading back toward the bad old days, with unbridled militaries running riot over the citizenry...

The following report highlights three local and international companies that manufacture “non-lethal” crowd control weapons. These weapons are currently used by Israeli authorities and security forces, mainly to suppress non-violent demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, in violation of the right to freedom of expression and association. Despite the fact that they are often labeled as “nonlethal” weapons, they have already been proven as potentially lethal in different incidents around the world, when the use of these weapons led to the death of demonstrators.

The report focuses on three types of weapons as case studies: tear gas canisters, which are produces and marketed by Combined Systems, Inc. (CSI) and M.R. Hunter; “the Scream”, manufactured by Electro-Optics Research & Development (EORD) and LRAD; and “the Skunk”, which is manufactured by Odortec, with the supporting companies: Man and BeitAlfa Technologies. The report will highlight the harmful consequences of these weapons, including their potentially lethal effects. The occupied Palestinian territories are being used as a lab for testing new civil oppression weapons on humans, in order to label them as “proven effective” for marketing abroad.

Faced with surging crime and corrupt police forces, many Latin American governments are turning to their militaries to combat citizen insecurity, but the peacetime deployment of the armed forces is not without risk...

The legal cases against Tahoe Resources are being carried out in a larger context of opposition to the Escobal mine. The violence, repression, and criminalization community leaders continue to face is not limited to what transpired on April 27, 2013...

The militarization of police units has been a longstanding policy in Latin America well before it received attention from the U.S. media. U.S. bilateral assistance to countries in Latin America has encouraged the adoption of military equipment and military training for local police forces.   While the U.S. prohibits the armed forces from assisting police forces at home, the practice of technology transfer and military training in-country has been a cornerstone of U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean for years. The logic is that crime and violence have overwhelmed local police forces—weak and corrupt to begin with—and therefore the armed forces are necessary for the state to provide security.   But that comes with huge risks...

Under the agreement, Mexico will rapidly expand a programme under which migrants applying for asylum in the US wait out the process in Mexico. It has also pledged to reinforce its southern border with Guatemala with 6,000 members of its National Guard militarised police force.