This report presents information on the current state of femicide in
Guatemala. In Part II, we discuss the meaning of the term “femicide” and
place the phenomenon as emerging out of a culture involving pervasive and
widespread violence against women. In Part III, we revisit a topic
examined in our prior two reports — the theories regarding the causes for
the escalating gender-motivated murders of women. In Part IV, we detail
the response of the Guatemalan government to rising violence, as well as
the efforts and pronouncements of international human rights bodies
regarding the femicide. We also examine the efficacy, or lack thereof, of
recent developments in Guatemala, as well as the barriers that exist to
meaningful change. Finally, in Part V, we discuss recommendations for
action by the Guatemalan government, as well as for other significant
actors involved in developing a response to this phenomenon, including the
United States government....
May 11, 2009 Households in Conflict Network // Institute of Development Studies // University of Sussex
We combine data from the 2002 National Population Census and the
distribution of the number of victims and human rights violations across 22 departments
to examine how the worst period of the civil war in Guatemala, between 1979 and 1984,
affected human capital accumulation. The year of birth and the department of birth jointly
determine an individual's exposure to the worst period of the civil war. Specifically, the
identification strategy exploits variation in the war's intensity across departments and
which cohorts were school age during the war. We find a strong negative impact of the
civil war on female education, with exposed girls completing 0.44 years less schooling
than non-exposed girls. Given an average of 3.65 years of schooling for females, this
represents a 12 percent decline. This impact is stronger for older female cohorts exposed
to the war, who completed 0.64 years less schooling, a decline of 17 percent. Older males
exposed to the war were less likely to complete grades 7 to 12. However, older females
exposed to the war experienced a larger decline in completing grades 4 to 12. These
effects are robust to the inclusion of indicators for department of residence, year of birth,
and controls for differential trends in human development in war affected and peaceful
departments of Guatemala....
September 29, 2008 Wilton Park // Japan International Cooperation Agency // United Nations Development Programme
Recent research on civil wars in poor countries has focused on structural conditions as causal factors, and a rich literature has emerged over the last decade. While these analyses consider specific conditions such as natural resource reliance or grievances over horizontal inequalities, and have generated controversies, they also consistently point to weak governance as a common and underlying factor.
This paper considers the role of state-citizen relationship, its nature and breakdown as a part of the process that lead to war, and its restoration as an important part of the peacebuilding and conflict prevention processes. Taking the human rights perspective to the compact between state and citizen, it explores the links between the state obligations to guarantee human rights of citizens and civil wars. The paper draws on the cases of Guatemala, Liberia and Nepal to shows that where the state fails to meet its human rights obligations including the functions of security and basic needs the compact between the state and citizens breaks down, but to meet these obligations requires institutional and financial capacity. The paper then explores the nature economic, social and governance reform policies that would restore state-citizen compact....
May 12, 2008 University of Ottawa // Paris, Roland
The United Nations and other international agencies conducted three major post-conflict peacebuilding operations in central America in the 1990s: in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. Like the many other international peacebuilding missions that were deployed during the 1990s, the operations in Central America aimed to assist local actors in the implementation of peace settlements after civil wars, and more generally to create the conditions for what UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called a 'stable and lasting peace,' or a peace that is likely to endure for the foreseeable future. Peacebuilding, in other words, is more than merely the supervision of ceasefires among former combatants. According to both Annan and his predecessor, Boutros Boutros Ghali, the overarching goal of peacebuilding is to eliminate the underlying sources of conflict in a war-shattered state, in order to reduce the likelihood of renewed violence....
March 26, 2008 Annual Convention of the International Studies Association
In November 2006, a local trial court in Guatemala’s capital ordered the arrest of the country’s ex-President, Oscar Mejía Víctores, along with ex-Defense Minister Anibal Guevara, ex-Police Chief German Chupina, and Pedro Arredondo, ex-head of the Secret Police, on charges of genocide, torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and terrorism. The defendants, along with two others whose arrest warrants were not executed, were deeply implicated in the conceptualization and execution of a repressive
state strategy that resulted in the deaths of 200,000 Guatemalans and the destruction of over 400 villages. Although the arrest order was carried out through a Guatemalan court, it was issued by a Spanish judge, Santiago Pedraz. Judge Pedraz of Spain’s Audiencia Nacional issued the warrants in July 2006, followed by formal extradition requests. He based Spanish jurisdiction over crimes committed by Guatemalans in Guatemala on a Spanish law which allows universal jurisdiction over certain international crimes....
Ten years ago, Guatemala's government signed a peace deal with guerrilla fighters, meant to end decades of civil war. But violence has persisted, and conditions in much of the country remain grim. A presidential candidate has said that Guatemala is close to being a failed state. Dennis Smith, a Presbyterian missionary in Guatemala City, tells Linda Wertheimer about his own experiences there.
November 22, 2005 National Security Archive // George Washington University
On July 5, officials from the Guatemalan government's human rights office (PDH - Procuradurxc3xada de Derechos Humanos) entered a deteriorating, rat-infested munitions depot in downtown Guatemala City to investigate complaints about improperly-stored explosives. During inspection of the site, investigators found a vast collection of documents, stored in five buildings and in an advanced state of decay. The files belonged to the National Police, the central branch of Guatemala's security forces during the war - an entity so inextricably linked to violent repression, abduction, disappearances, torture and assassination that the country's 1996 peace accord mandated it be completely disbanded and a new police institution created in its stead.
The scope of this find is staggering - PDH officials estimate that there are 4.5 kilometers - some 75 million pages - of materials. During a visit to the site in early August, I saw file cabinets marked "assassinations," "disappeared" and "homicides," as well as folders labeled with the names of internationally-known victims of political murder, such as anthropologist Myrna Mack (killed by security forces in 1990). ...
Crisis Watch summarises briefly developments during the previous month in some 70 situations of current or potential conflict, listed alphabetically by region, providing references and links to more detailed information sources (all references mentioned are hyperlinked in the electronic version of this bulletin); assesses whether the overall situation in each case has, during the previous month, significantly deteriorated, significantly improved, or on balance remained more or less unchanged; alerts readers to situations where, in the coming month, there is a particular risk of new or significantly escalated conflict, or a particular conflict resolution opportunity (noting that in some instances there may in fact be both); and summarises Crisis Group’s reports and briefing papers that have been published in the last month.
Amid mounting tensions between North and South Sudan over the disputed border area of Abyei, clashes broke out between the two sides at the beginning of the month. Northern Sudanese forces invaded Abyei on 20 May and asserted control in breach of existing peace agreements. Tens of thousands are reported to have fled south. The attacks threaten renewed conflict and weaken confidence between North and South as critical post-referendum arrangements remain unresolved.
Tensions also increased over military control and the presence of armed forces in the transitional areas of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and CrisisWatch identifies a conflict risk alert for North Sudan for the coming month.
Violence escalated further in Yemen, where military forces loyal to President Saleh battled on several fronts, renewing fears that the continued political stalemate could erupt into civil war.
President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria continued to use troops and tanks to violently suppress the ongoing revolt, with hundreds of protesters feared killed, thousands detained, and widespread reports of torture.
In Pakistan, the U.S. killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad at the beginning of the month again raised questions about the military's possible involvement with jihadist groups.
Local elections in Albania on 8 May proved even more troubled than anticipated as the race for the Tirana mayor's seat ended deep within the margin of error.
In Guatemala, the Mexican Los Zetas cartel killed and decapitated 27 farm workers in the northern Petén department.
In Serbia, war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military leader accused of commanding the Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, was arrested after 16 years on the run. He was extradited to The Hague, where he will stand trial for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity....
October 17, 2008 International Center for Transitional Justice
Case studies of four truth commissions organized in Africa and the Americas that are notably positive examples of how circumstances in each society helped shape the commissions' work. The cases reviewed include South Africa, Peru, Guatemala, and Greensboro, USA.
Myrna Mack, a renowned Guatemalan anthropologist, was assassinated on September 11, 1990, in Guatemala City. She had been stalked for two weeks prior to her death by a military death squad, who targeted her in retaliation for her pioneering field work on the destruction of rural indigenous communities. For over twelve years, Myrna's sister, Helen Mack, has fought tirelessly to bring to justice all persons involved in the murder, including high ranking officials in the Guatemalan armed forces.
A dictatorship led by General Jorge Ubico was overthrown in 1944 by a group of dissident military officers, students, and professionals. Juan Jose Arevalo, a civilian, was popularly elected in democratic elections, became president in 1945 and began an extensive program of liberal social reforms. These reforms were continued by his successor, Colonel Jacobo Arbenz, who took office in 1951 and also legalized the communist Guatemalan Labor Party. The Labor Party began to control labor unions, peasant organizations, and the governing political party. American firms in Guatemala such as the United Fruit Company became increasingly discontent with the Guatemalan government, especially after the Arbenz government passed a law expropriating large estates, a law which greatly affected the United Fruit Company's plantations. The United States itself also began to fear the increasingly communist nature of the Arbenz government and coupled with pressure from the United Fruit Company and other firms, the CIA supported a coup that invaded Guatemala from Honduras and quickly took control of the government, installing military dictator Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas. The coup and the resulting regime began an almost 50-year period of military dictators, fraudulent elections, and civil wars that claimed 200,000 lives, many of them civilians....
Guatemala suffered more than 36 years of internal conflict, which formally ended with the signing of the Peace Accords at the end of 1996. The war is over, 200,000 paramilitary troops have been disbanded, nearly 3,000 guerrillas have been demobilized and resettled and are now being integrated into the political and economic life of the country.
Despite some progress, many Peace Accord commitments remain unfulfilled. There are still enormous problems of poverty -- especially in the rural areas -- and of participation, credit and economic opportunity. ...
Generally, truth commissions are bodies established to research and report on human rights abuses over a certain period of time in a particular country or in relation to a particular conflict. Truth commissions allow victims, their relatives and perpetrators to give evidence of human rights abuses, providing an official forum for their accounts. In most instances, truth commissions are also required by their mandate to provide r#ecommendations on steps to prevent a recurrence of such abuses.
January 4, 2011 Foreign Policy Magazine // International Crisis Group
Across the globe today, you'll find almost three dozen raging conflicts, from the valleys of Afghanistan to the jungles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the streets of Kashmir. But what are the next crises that might erupt in 2011? Here are a few worrisome spots that make our list. [Captions provided by International Crisis Group]
November 20, 2006 Center for Gender and Refugee Studies
In just the past five years, over 2200 young Guatemalan women have been murdered, 665 in 2005 alone. What local activists are calling "femicide" is spreading in Guatemala and throughout Latin America. The killings are notable for their brutality and the continuing impunity of those responsible. There have been just twelve successful prosecutions; less than 10% of the reported cases of femicide in Guatemala have even been investigated.
July 28, 2011 Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior
What role do women play in statebuilding? How do statebuilding processes affect women's participation? Support for statebuilding has become the dominant model for international engagement in post-conflict contexts, yet donor approaches lack substantial gender analysis and are missing opportunities to promote gender equality. This paper presents findings from a research project on the impact of post-conflict statebuilding on women's citizenship. It argues that gender inequalities are linked to the underlying political settlement, and that donors must therefore address gender as a fundamentally political issue....
Guatemalans go to the polls in September 2011 to elect a
president, the Congress and local officials. The vote itself
is likely to be reasonably free, but violence and unregulated
campaign finance imperil the country’s political institutions.
Deteriorated security, drug traffickers’ brutality and
polarised politics leave candidates especially vulnerable
to attacks. An exorbitant campaign, meanwhile, threatens
to indebt office-holders to powerful financial interests, including
organised crime, deepening corruption and widening
the gulf between citizens and their politicians. State security
agencies should redouble efforts to prevent bloodshed,
especially in the most dangerous municipalities; politicians
and parties must fully reveal who funds them, and
the Public Prosecutor’s office, electoral authorities and donors
should press them to do so....
Since it began operations in September 2007, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala, CICIG) has brought a degree of hope to a country deeply scarred by post-conflict violence and entrenched impunity. As homicide rates sky-rocketed to rival Mexico’s, and criminals fought for territorial control and dominated or corrupted multiple levels of state agencies, the novel independent investigating entity created by agreement between the government and the UN Secretary-General responded to fear that illegal armed groups had become a threat to the state itself. Much remains to be done, however. During the next years the commission should establish the strategic basis for dismantling the illegal security forces and clandestine security organisations (Cuerpos Ilegales y Aparatos Clandestinos de Seguridad, CIACS) over the long term and building Guatemalan justice capacity, including by supporting national ownership of the commission’s functions and embedding them within the judicial system.
CICIG’s formal mandate is to support and assist domestic justice institutions in the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed by CIACS, to identify their structures, operations and financing and ultimately to dismantle them. At the same time, CICIG has sought to strengthen the weak judicial system in order to put an end to impunity, a task made infinitely more difficult by the complex relationship between elements of state institutions, political parties, the private sector and the CIACS....
April 28, 2011 Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre // Noref
Criminal violence has taken on epidemic proportions in several Latin American countries. While the violence has complex causes and expressions, a major reason behind the current surge in levels is the strengthening of transnational criminal organisations (TCOs), most of which are based on illicit drug trafficking. TCOs have fuelled a deepening of multi-faceted state crises, which in some cases may be characterised as the “criminalisation of the state”. The seminar on which this report is based focused on the causes of this wave of violence and policy responses at different levels.
The main conclusion from the seminar was that, while US policy includes an array of measures, it is still heavily focused on military assistance and a “supply-side” approach to curbing the flow of drugs and other illicit goods into the US. National responses have in many cases mirrored this approach, focusing on strengthening police controls and in some cases deploying military forces. Regional responses have so far proven weak, yet there are important initiatives in the pipeline. The idea of an alternative agenda is also gaining support both nationally and regionally. This includes measures to decriminalise the production and possession of soft drugs, bolster police and judicial reform, and focus on treatment and finding alternative livelihoods for growers....
March 7, 2011 Amnesty International // International Action Network on Small Arms
Over the past decade, there has been growing international momentum to conceptualise, document and
address the various manifestations of “armed violence”. To date the discourse has focused largely on the
causes and effects of armed violence and explored the range of available programming options to prevent
and reduce it. Discussions on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) currently underway in the United Nations
(UN) provide an important opportunity to examine armed violence in the context of decisions concerning
international transfers and the export and import of conventional arms used in armed violence.
One of the objectives of the ATT is to address the “absence of common international standards on the
import, export and transfer of conventional arms.” As the UN General Assembly has noted, this absence
contributes to “conflict, displacement of people, crime and terrorism” thereby undermining peace,
reconciliation, safety, security, stability and sustainable development.” In other words, the absence of such
common international standards contributes to armed violence.
This report is divided into two parts, and includes three case studies drawn from recent examples of armed
violence in Bangladesh, Guatemala and the Philippines. Part I examines how an ATT with a clearly elaborated
risk assessment process can make a contribution to the prevention and reduction of armed violence. Part II focuses on one form of armed violence: firearms-related homicide. Discussions of armed violence
have repeatedly noted that the use of firearms in non-conflict settings is the most prevalent form of armed
violence and the form that results in the most deaths and injuries. This fact underscores the importance of
adopting an approach to addressing armed violence that will encompass violence outside of armed conflict