Today in Guatemala hundreds if not thousands marched in the streets of the capital demanding the the Guatemalan president, Jimmy Morales, obey the Guatemalan Constitutional Court and not expel the UN International Commission against Corruption and Impunity (CICIG). Since 2007 this Commission has worked with human rights organizations, lawyers and the Constitutional Court of Guatemala to bring military and political officials to trial and convictions for crimes ranging from corruption to genocide.
CICIG has provided evidence of corruption on the part of the current President and some of his appointees. That is why the President wants them out of the country. A recent report from the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission/USA states:
"On Monday, January 7, President Morales unilaterally closed the International Commission Against Impunity, CICIG. When he did that he overstepped his powers; the president does not have the authority to shut down an agency created through a treaty ratified by congress. The Constitutional Court ordered CICIG be reinstated, and his response was to attempt to impeach the Constitutional Court. "
Thus, the people took to the streets over this past weekend and today. Here is a are some photos taken today (1/14/19) by Dania Rodriguez, Human Rights Defender Project in Guatemala City.
CASA ALITAS LAST WEEK IN TUCSCON.
Casa Altias, the shelter for recently released migrants, was crowded and a bit chaotic last week. Seven migrants plus 10 children in a four bedroom house. Two of the migrants left for another shelter. Three out of the five families were from Guatemala, two from the state of Guerrero, Mexico, the scene of drug cartels.
I spoke with one of the women who had lived in the United States for ten years. She was traveling with her two daughters. Her husband had already crossed into the United States and was waiting for her in an eastern state. I asked her if she was seeking asylum. "Yes, I am. We went back to Guatemala four years ago - voluntarily - we weren't deported. We wanted our children to grow up speaking Spanish in their own culture. BUT when we started our small restaurant business, gangs asked us to pay them money to stay in business. We went to the police but they did nothing. After our lives were threatened, we decided to head back to the States."
There is a direct connection between what is happening today in Guatemala and the numbers of Guatemalans asking for asylum in the United States. GHRC's report adds:If President Trump is really concerned about stopping migration, he needs to adopt policies that help Guatemalan’s who are struggling to make their communities livable and sanction those that are helping organized crime to tighten its grasp on the government.
Two members of the US Congress, Reps. Jim McGovern and Norma Torres, are circulating a letter to President Trump and the US State Department asking them to condemn the illegal actions of President Morales in Guatemala. Of course, the President may be about to act without consultation of the U.S. Congress to fund the wall at the border - such a decision will be immediately challenged by our Supreme Court.
I hope that you will take action - call your member of Congress and ask him to sign onto the letter. Follow what is happening in Guatemala because our lives are interconnected. Look at resources from GHRC/USA. org or WOLA.org for an update on the Guatemalan situation. We are following it from a distance but Guatemalans who flee are living this reality.
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?