News related to our sistering relationships – September 2019

In Guatemala, the conservative former head of the prison system, Alejandro Giammatei, was elected president in an August run-off election.  He will be inaugurated in January 2020. The United Nations-sponsored International Commission against Impunity (CICIG) gave their final report before their mandate runs out this September.  On September 4, the government declared a State of Siege in 22 eastern municipalities following a security incident during an anti-narcotics operation.  The State of Siege has many implications for social movements in the area, as it severely limits the rights to assembly and protest, among others.

In El Salvador, the new president faces pressure from both the right and the left.  NACLA published an interview with social movement leaders about his first 100 days in office. One recent study found that El Salvador will run out of water in 80 years, unless drastic actions are taken. This is not surprising to the many communities living without access to adequate water, nor to the social movement in El Salvador that has been demanding action on water and climate change for years now.  In July, a judge expanded the charges in the case of the 1981 El Mozote massacre to include torture, forced displacement, and forced disappearance.

United States government officials continue to negotiate agreements with Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to address migration rates.  Trump used harsh threats recently, including higher taxes on remittances and a travel ban on Guatemalans, to pressure the government to sign an agreement establishing Guatemala as a “safe third country” for asylum seekers.  Both his threats and the “safe third country” agreement were widely criticized in Guatemala.  The U.S. is sending more Border Patrol agents and Department of Homeland Security personnel to Guatemala and they will be trained and deployed “side-by-side” with Guatemalan security officers.

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