Currently in the news:
Since mid-spring 2015, a CICIG investigation uncovered a massive customs fraud scandal (La Linea) that involved the then-Vice President’s personal secretary. In April, the Vice President resigned, and an additional healthcare system scandal was uncovered, involving additional high level officials. Middle class and urban Guatemalans peacefully took to the streets to demand Vice President Baldetti’s resignation and President Otto Perez Molina’s resignation. Baldetti acquiesced and resigned on 8 May 2015. Protests grew and involved more diverse sectors of the population throughout the country. Baldetti was arrested on 21 August 2015 and has been in jail since then. Perez Molina remained in office, despite growing calls for his resignation. Eventually, Congress stripped him of his immunity, and on 2 September 2015, he resigned. He was arrested the next day. This excellent OpEd by Anita Isaacs, who has done research in Guatemala for years, provides more context: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/23/opinion/americas-second-chance-in-guatemala.html?emc=edit_ty_20150622&nl=opinion&nlid=67326864&_r=2.
The CICIG (http://cicig.org) was created by the United Nations and Guatemalan government in December 2006 and has resulted in a number of high-level prosecutions. Efforts are under way to create a similar court in El Salvador (CICISV or CICIES) and Honduras (CICIH). These efforts are facing significant backlash from the governments in power. To support efforts in El Salvador to form a similar court, learn more here: https://www.altoalaimpunidad.com. To support efforts in Honduras, learn more here: https://www.facebook.com/Oposición-Indignada-HN-904526546272367/timeline/ and https://honduprensa.wordpress.com/tag/comision-internacional-contra-la-impunidad-honduras-cicih/.
Plaza Publica: http://www.plazapublica.com.gt
When the Mountains Tremble: http://skylight.is/films/when-the-mountains-tremble/
Granito: How to Nail a Dictator: http://skylight.is/films/granito/
Ixcanul is Guatemala’s Oscar entry for best foreign film and is about an adolescent girl’s coming-of-age in a Kaqchikel community in the Western Highlands. Here is the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMMP0Z21zqU.
El Norte is a 1983 film about two indigenous youth forced to flee to the US after their Mayan community is attacked during the civil war. Here is the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qe_pcfYGrLs.
Guatemalan Human Rights Commission (GHRC): https://ghrcusa.wordpress.com
I am impressed with the individuals and work at the following organizations:
Asociacion Pop No’j: http://asociacionpopnoj.com
Colectivo Vida Digna: http://colectivovidadigna.org/Spanish-VidaDigna.html
Guatemalan Human Rights Commission: http://www.ghrc-usa.org, who lists their partners here: http://www.ghrc-usa.org/about/our-partners/
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) Guatemalan Child Return and Reintegration Project (GCRRP): https://supportkind.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/GCRRP-Factsheet-English1.pdf
Inter-American Foundation: http://www.iaf.gov/index.aspx?page=312
Pastoral de la Movilidad Humana: http://www.movilidadhumana.com/?lang=en
Human Rights Reports
Amnesty International (AI): https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/americas/guatemala/
Asociacion Proyecto Conrado de la Cruz: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Asociación-Proyecto-Conrado-de-la-Cruz/593180317467047
Centro Internacional para Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos (CIIDH): http://internationalbudget.org/groups/centro-internacional-para-investigaciones-en-derechos-humanos-ciidh/
Comision Presidencial de Derechos Humanos (COPREDEH): http://www.copredeh.gob.gt
Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo (GAM): http://www.worldcoalition.org/Grupo-de-Apoyo-Mutuo.html
Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC): https://ghrcusa.wordpress.com
Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG): https://hrdag.org/guatemala/
Human Rights Watch (HRW): https://www.hrw.org/americas/guatemala
Latin America Working Group: http://www.lawg.org
Peace Brigades International: http://www.peacebrigades.org/field-projects/pbi-guatemala/
Procurador de Derechos Humanos (PDH): http://www.pdh.org.gt
Unidad de Proteccion a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos Guatemala (UDEFEGUA): http://www.udefegua.org or https://www.justassociates.org/es/aliada/unidad-de-proteccion-defensoras-y-defensores-de-derechos-humanos-guatemala-udefegua
United States Department of State: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA): http://www.wola.org/country/guatemala
Contextualizing the Present: Recent History:
To read about the Truth Commission’s findings, following Guatemala’s decades-long civil war, you may go to this website and access a short history, the peace accord, and the Commission’s report in English and Spanish: http://www.usip.org/publications/truth-commission-guatemala .
Frommer’s recommends the following Volunteer and Working Trips:
If you want to lend a hand while in Guatemala, you have several options. Habitat for Humanity International (tel. 502/7763-5308 in Guatemala; http://www.habitat.org) has several chapters in Guatemala and sometimes runs organized Global Village programs here. Their Global Village trips are large, group-escorted trips that include work on a Habitat for Humanity building project, as well as other cultural and educational experiences. The costs range from Q9,000 to Q13,500 ($1,200-$1,800/£600-£900), not including airfare, for a 9- to 14-day program.
Alternatively, up in the Western Highlands around Quetzaltenango, you can check in with Entre Mundos (tel. 502/7761-2179; www.entremundos.org), which functions as bridge between a host of non-governmental organizations and community projects. They specifically work to connect foreign volunteers with appropriate community, social, health, and educational projects.
Here is an English-language tourism site: http://www.visitguatemala.com .
Here is the government’s Spanish-language Ministry of Tourism (INGUAT) site: http://www.inguat.gob.gt/inicio.php.