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Maximiliano Herrera -The Editor
I have not totally researched this position. I do know that this country has been one of the worst on human rights in the Western Hemisphere.
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In 1990, the US Congress instituted a ban on military training (IMET) and military aid (FMF) to Guatemala following the murder of US innkeeper Michael Devine allegedly by members of the Guatemalan military. Since that time, Amnesty International has actively supported the ban, given the Guatemalan government’s lack of compliance with key military reform provisions elaborated in the landmark 1996 Peace Accords.
See AMR 34/014/2005 Memorandum to the Government of Guatemala: Amnesty International’s concerns regarding the current human rights situation, for a comprehensive overview of the current human rights situation in Guatemala.
President Óscar Berger from the party Gran Alianza Nacional (GANA), National Alliance, was inaugurated on January 14, 2004. Initially he took various actions in favor of human rights: for example, six weeks after his inauguration he symbolically relaunched the 1996 Peace Accords, committing himself to their implementation and appointed several prominent members of the human rights defenders community to government (human rights related) posts. After one year, however, little in the way of concrete progress has been made on key issues, including military reform, tackling impunity and strengthening the rule of law.
While the President did significantly reduce the army’s personnel by 33%, only 2,000 positions were permanently eliminated, leaving the door open for 10,000 currently vacant spots to be filled. Furthermore, the military continues to have a role in internal security through combined military/police patrols, which are explicitly prohibited by the Peace Accords. Army units have supported the police during evictions of rural communities and policing operations in which alleged excessive force has resulted in fatalities and injuries. On August 31, 2004 the Army provided support to the police eviction of protesting rural workers at the Nueva Linda Farm, in Retalhuleu, Southwest Guatemala, during which four police officers and eight rural workers died as a result of injuries (See AMR 34/020/2004). Then again, on March 15, 2005 the army and police violently cleared a public road of a social protest in the department of Huehuetenango, Northeast Guatemala; at least one person died and 10 were injured (See AMR 34/012/2005).
While the Government has reformed the military doctrine, neither the Constitution nor the governing laws of the army have been reformed to prohibit military involvement in internal security. In addition, the military continues to resist full cooperation with civilian authorities on human rights cases, restricting access to classified archives and witnesses.
Of further concern to Amnesty International is the clear lack of political will to investigate and prosecute past and present human rights violators, including current and former members of the military. This further weakens the rule of law and the administration of justice, allows for known human rights violators to maintain positions of power within the military and government structures, and encourages continuing abuses. Guatemalan human rights defenders continue to experience a growing number of human rights violations committed by clandestine groups with alleged connections to the state apparatus. (See AMR 34/007/2005)
For these reasons, AI supports the continued ban on regular IMET and FMF to Guatemala.
Yes ,the army in Guatemala still retains a very big stock of power and spread terror against anyone is threating their role.
Former president Arzu made my steps forward reconciliation and pacification.
These achievements have been destryoed by the corrupt, inefficient and criminal administration of former president Alfonso Portillo (a real gangster as I dare to say).
Oscar Berger is doing what he can, gradually, slowly, miracles are not possible, he is working against lots of hurdles. We hope that at the end of his admi nistration some real progress could be achieved again.