Hagel missed out on the real story in Guatemala
After visiting Guatemala last month, US Defense Secretary Hagel called President Pérez Molina “impressive,” claiming that, “He has a reputation for reaching out to the people,” and “[President Pérez Molina] has really upped the game on human rights down there.” Secretary Hagel added: “Through some courageous, visionary leadership they have really pulled themselves up” from human rights abuses.
Secretary Hagel said this of a President:
· Whose military opened fire on protesters less than two years ago in Totonicapan, killing at least six and injuring dozens more;
· Who has repeatedly suspended constitutionally protected rights in entire regions as a tactic to quell protests;
· Who refuses to comply with Inter American Court rulings against Guatemala, such as orders to investigate and compensate victims for crimes committed during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict;
· Whose Interior Minister has threatened to kick international human rights groups out of the country, and called domestic human rights group’s complaints against the government “blackmail and extortion like that of gang members;”
· Who opens military bases and outposts in communities that are opposed to mines, dams and other projects;
· Who violates the internationally-protected right of indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent by allowing construction of mines, dams and other projects without consultation, and during whose administration hundreds of community leaders have faced trumped up charges in the courts for their defense of the environment;
· Who, instead of investing in the police, uses the military to fight crime, with soldiers patrolling the streets and checkpoints lining the highways;
· Whose police and military have been accused by the US State Department of involvement in kidnapping, drug trafficking, extortion and lethal violence, including against women.
Don’t think the US should be supporting these kinds of abuses? Sign our petition to maintain the ban on US funding to the Guatemalan army.