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News > Latin America

NGO: Guatemalan Gov't Obstructing Peace, Human Rights Agenda

  • President Morales was denounced for “neglecting” the agenda of transformation layed out in the 1996 peace accords.

    President Morales was denounced for “neglecting” the agenda of transformation layed out in the 1996 peace accords. | Photo: EFE

Published 27 July 2018

The Dutch NGO Impunity Watch has urged the Guatemalan government to implement peace and human rights agenda laid out in 1996 peace accord.

The Guatemalan government has failed to make progress on and maybe obstructing efforts relating to matters of transitional justice according to Dutch NGO, Impunity Watch. The group made the comments in a report published Thursday, which chronicled the progress made on the matter in the country between 2014 and 2017.

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The NGO, which provides support for countries in a postwar period, revealed in its 2014-2017 report there have been setbacks, and an overall weakening of the peace and human rights agenda in the Central American country that lived through an internal armed conflict for almost four decades, between 1960 and 1996.

The research covers the last two years of the government of Otto Perez Molina (2012 - 2015), Alejandro Molina (2015 - 2016), and the first year of current Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, who was chastised for “neglecting” the agenda of transformation laid out in the peace accords signed in 1996.

Former Guatemalan health minister and victim of state violence during the armed conflict, Lucrecia Hernandez, agreed with the findings and lamented the “lack of political will,” and said that transitional justice “depends on governments.”

Impunity Watch has called on president Morales and defense minister, Jose Luis Ralda, to issue a public apology for the more than 200,000 victims of the grave violations of human rights during the 36-year-long war. Scholars and historians have attributed most murders to the Guatemalan army.

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The NGO also recommends school curricula include the truth commission’s findings and urges Congress to create a national commission to search for people who were victims of forced disappearances and refrain from approving legislation that could grant amnesty to those responsible for human rights violations.

Guatemala's civil war began in 1960, six years after the United States backed military coup that ousted democratically-elected president Jacobo Arbenz, who led a popular program of agrarian reform that affected landed elites and the infamous United Fruit Company. Shortly after the coup, left-wing parties and labor unions were outlawed by the state, and progressive social and economic policies were dismantled.

By December 1962, a group of military men and former left-wing politicians and organizers formed the Rebel Armed Forces. Indigenous people and Campesinos across the country joined the revolutionary movement, becoming targets of subsequent military governments.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, tens of thousands of Guatemalan Indigenous peoples and Campesinos were forced by the army to abandon their lands and go to "model towns" that were under strict military supervision. The Guatemalan army built 45 "model towns" with the help of U.S.-based Evangelical Christian groups to prevent Indigenous peoples and Campesinos from joining the guerrilla.

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