to post and maintain the signs, which campaigned in the military officers’ favor.
nounced the lifting of the sanctions after meeting with Guatemalan President Óscar Berger.
Two years ago, the same court of appeals threw out the convictions and ordered new trials for the four men, but the Supreme Court upheld the original rulings. That decision was later endorsed by the Court of Consti- tutionality, Guatemala’s highest court.
Berger, appearing with Rumsfeld in a press con- ference in Guatemalan City, said the human rights abuses committed by the Guatemalan military are a thing of the past. “The shadows that plagued our army have disap- peared,’’Berger said through a translator.
Juan Gerardi’s death came two days after he pre- sented a Catholic Church human rights office report blam- ing the military for the overwhelming majority of atrocities committed during Guatemala’s 1960 -1996 civil war, which killed 200,000.
MICSP to Sue Government 3/18/05 - Representatives from the Indigenous, Campesino, Union and Popular Movement (MICSP) have lodged a formal complain against the State of Guatemala for the death of teacher and campesino Juan López. Ló- pez was killed by members of the Guatemalan securities forces on March 15 in Colotenengo, Huehuetenango while protesting the passage and subsequent ratification of the CentralAmerican Free TradeAgreement. According to the representatives, the government did not allow for free- dom of assembly or movement. Specifically, groups are accusing Interior Minister CarlosVielmann and National Civil Police director Erwin Sperisen.
ODHA Appeals Decision in Zamora Case 3/22/05 - The Archbishops Human Rights Office (ODHA), as co-plaintiff in the Zamora case, appealed the acquittal of Bélter Álvarez and has asked that the former specialist in the Presidential High Command (EMP) be sentenced to twenty-nine years of prison.
In late February, Eduviges Funes was sentenced to sixteen years in prison, while Bélter Álvarez, was ab- solved. Funes was found guilty of threats, coercion, ille- gal detention, aggravated robbery, and for breaking and entering the home of journalist José Rubén Zamora on June 24, 2003.
Rumsfeld, saying CentralAmerica has reached a “magic moment,’’said he was satisfied Guatemala’s mili- tary was developing toward a force that could assist in peacekeeping operations and cooperate with other mili- taries in CentralAmerica. “I’ve been impressed by the reforms that have been undertaken in the armed forces,’’ he said. “I know it is a difficult thing to do but it’s been done with professionalism and transparency.’’ Officials told reporters that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had also certified progress in Guatemala and said that Guatemala’s military was now cooperating closely with civilian judicial authorities.
Rights groups did not agree with Rumsfeld’s as- sessment, although they did give Berger credit for making attempted to reduce the size of the army. Last summer, the government downsized the military from 27,214 sol- diers to 15,500, eliminating seven major commands and units while reducing the defense budget. Guatemala has also contributed peacekeepers to the mission in Haiti and has taken part in several UN operations in Africa. But human rights leaders insist Guatemala has yet to turn the corner.
Several times since 2000, the army has taken to the streets to fight crime, in violation of the 1996 Peace Accords. During demonstrations in March against the CentralAmerican Free TradeAgreement (CAFTA), sol- diers and police opened fire on a group of campesinos in northern Guatemala, killing one.
“Despite its commitment to ending impunity and combating clandestine groups, the Berger administration has demonstrated a lack of political will and ability to make progress in establishing an effective mechanism to investi- gate and dismantle clandestine groups,” according to a joint statement by the Washington Of ice on Latin America (WOLA), the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, and other groups.
US Resumes Military Aid to Guatemala
These clandestine groups or illegal armed groups,
3/27/05 - The United States released $3.2 million in mili- tary aid to Guatemala, more than a decade after such aid was cut off due to human rights abuses during the country’s civil war. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld an-
which were supposed to have been dismantled after the signing of the Accords, are believed to have ties to Guatemala’s military intelligence apparatus, which is also widely believed to have become increasingly active in drug
April 1, 2005
UPDATE- page 6
Vol 17 No 7