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Tue Sep 1, 2015, 08:32 PM

Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina Stripped Of Immunity, Paving The Way For Impeachment Proceedin

Source: International Business Times

Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina Stripped Of Immunity, Paving The Way For Impeachment Proceedings

By Sarah Berger @sarahberger0408 s.berger@ibtimes.com on September 01 2015 8:07 PM EDT

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Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina speaks at a press conference at the Culture Palace in Guatemala City March 2, 2015. Getty Images
The Guatemalan Congress voted on Tuesday to strip President Otto Perez Molina’s immunity from prosecution, the Associated Press reported. Perez Molina’s revoked immunity could trigger a criminal trial in connection to a corruption scandal, which could possibly lead to his impeachment. This is the first time a president has been stripped of immunity in a Central American country.

The vote comes only five days before presidential elections, and despite a corruption scandal, Perez Molina had previously vowed to remain in office until his term ends in January, the Financial Times reported. Molina was not stripped of his immunity during a vote Aug. 13, in which 105 votes were required for the proposal to pass in the 158-member legislature -- but that was before prosecutors accused him of defrauding the national customs service of millions of dollars, Agence France-Presse reported. A congressional investigative committee, though, recommended three days ago that lawmakers strip Perez Molina of immunity.

The second vote was carried out Tuesday by 132-0, with 26 deputies absent. Anti-corruption protesters who had been demonstrating for 19 weeks formed a human cordon to allow deputies to safely enter the chamber.

Perez Molina allegedly ran a system in which businesses paid bribes to clear their imports through customs at a small portion of the actual tax rate. The scandal was dubbed "La Linea" (The Line). Guatemalans have been protesting every week since April. Perez Molina has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Read more: http://www.ibtimes.com/guatemala-president-otto-perez-molina-stripped-immunity-paving-way-impeachment-2078491

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Reply Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina Stripped Of Immunity, Paving The Way For Impeachment Proceedin (Original post)
Judi Lynn Sep 2015 OP
Judi Lynn Sep 2015 #1
Uncle Joe Sep 2015 #2
Calista241 Sep 2015 #3
Judi Lynn Sep 2015 #7
Judi Lynn Sep 2015 #8
Judi Lynn Sep 2015 #9
riderinthestorm Sep 2015 #4
Judi Lynn Sep 2015 #5
Judi Lynn Sep 2015 #6
Recursion Sep 2015 #10
Judi Lynn Sep 2015 #11

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Sep 2, 2015, 05:12 AM

1. Guatemalan Congress strips president's immunity

Guatemalan Congress strips president's immunity
By Katell Abiven (AFP) 7 hours ago.

Guatemala's Congress voted to strip embattled President Otto Perez of his immunity, clearing the way for him to be prosecuted for allegedly masterminding a multi-million-dollar corruption scheme.

Hours after the resolution was passed unanimously by the 132 lawmakers present, a judge barred Perez, a conservative ex-military man, from leaving the country.

The result gives Perez the dubious distinction of becoming the first president to have his immunity revoked in the Central American country's history.

After months of unprecedented protests that have swept Guatemala, hundreds of demonstrators outside Congress erupted into jubilant cheers at the news, chanting "yes we did" as passing drivers honked their horns in celebration.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Sep 2, 2015, 07:40 AM

2. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread, Judi Lynn.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Sep 2, 2015, 02:59 PM

3. We must be slacking

I don't see the letters CIA anywhere in this thread yet.

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Response to Calista241 (Reply #3)

Wed Sep 2, 2015, 06:25 PM

7. How thoughtful of you to remember the C.I.A.'s involvement in Guatemala since 1954,

at least!

CIA activities in Guatemala

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Main article: CIA activities in the Americas

Several hundred records were released by the Central Intelligence Agency on May 23, 1997, on its involvement in the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état.[1]

They reflected Truman administration feeling that the government of Arbenz, elected in 1950, would continue a process of socio-economic reforms that the CIA disdainfully refers to in its memoranda as "an intensely nationalistic program of progress colored by the touchy, anti-foreign inferiority complex of the 'Banana Republic.'"

The Guatemalan Revolution of 1944-54 had overthrown the US backed dictator Jorge Ubico, and brought a popular leftist government to power. Although most high-level US officials recognized that a hostile government in Guatemala by itself did not constitute a direct security threat to the United States, they claimed to view events there in the context of the growing Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union and feared Guatemala could reduce the influence of US corporations (such as United Fruit) in the region, and thus reduce US influence. Decree 900, passed in 1952, threatened to increase Guatemala's autonomy and create a successful example of land reform in Central America.

DCI Walter Bedell Smith believed the situation called for action. Their assessment was that without help, the Guatemalan opposition would remain inept, disorganized and efficient. The anti-communist elements—the Catholic hierarchy, landowners, business interests, the railway workers union, university students and the army were prepared to prevent socialism, but apart from the US they had little
outside support.

Other US officials, especially in the US Department of State, urged a more cautious approach. The Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, for example, did not want to present 'the spectacle of the elephant shaking with alarm before the mouse.' It wanted a policy of firm persuasion with the withholding of virtually all cooperative assistance, and the concluding of military defense assistance pacts, with El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. Although the Department of State position became the official public US policy, the CIA assessment…had support within the Truman administration as well."[2]


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CIA and Assassinations: The Guatemala 1954 Documents

Edited by Kate Doyle and Peter Kornbluh
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 4

Washington, D.C. – These documents, including an instructional guide on assassination found among the training files of the CIA's covert "Operation PBSUCCESS," were among several hundred records released by the Agency on May 23, 1997 on its involvement in the infamous 1954 coup in Guatemala. After years of answering Freedom of Information Act requests with its standard "we can neither confirm nor deny that such records exist," the CIA has finally declassified some 1400 pages of over 100,000 estimated to be in its secret archives on the Guatemalan destabilization program. (The Agency's press release stated that more records would be released before the end of the year.) An excerpt from the assassination manual appears on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times on Saturday, May 31, 1997.

The small, albeit dramatic, release comes more than five years after then CIA director Robert Gates declared that the CIA would "open" its shadowy past to post-cold war public scrutiny, and only days after a member of the CIA's own historical review panel was quoted in the New York Times as calling the CIA's commitment to openness "a brilliant public relations snow job." (See Tim Weiner, "C.I.A.'s Openness Derided as a 'Snow Job'," The New York Times, May 20, 1997, p. A16)

Arbenz was elected President of Guatemala in 1950 to continue a process of socio- economic reforms that the CIA disdainfully refers to in its memoranda as "an intensely nationalistic program of progress colored by the touchy, anti-foreign inferiority complex of the 'Banana Republic.'" The first CIA effort to overthrow the Guatemalan president--a CIA collaboration with Nicaraguan dictator Anastacio Somoza to support a disgruntled general named Carlos Castillo Armas and codenamed Operation PBFORTUNE--was authorized by President Truman in 1952. As early as February of that year, CIA Headquarters began generating memos with subject titles such as "Guatemalan Communist Personel to be disposed of during Military Operations," outlining categories of persons to be neutralized "through Executive Action"--murder--or through imprisonment and exile. The "A" list of those to be assassinated contained 58 names--all of which the CIA has excised from the declassified documents.

PBSUCCESS, authorized by President Eisenhower in August 1953, carried a $2.7 million budget for "pychological warfare and political action" and "subversion," among the other components of a small paramilitary war. But, according to the CIA's own internal study of the agency's so-called "K program," up until the day Arbenz resigned on June 27, 1954, "the option of assassination was still being considered." While the power of the CIA's psychological-war, codenamed "Operation Sherwood," against Arbenz rendered that option unnecessary, the last stage of PBSUCCESS called for "roll-up of Communists and collaborators." Although Arbenz and his top aides were able to flee the country, after the CIA installed Castillo Armas in power, hundreds of Guatemalans were rounded up and killed. Between 1954 and 1990, human rights groups estimate, the repressive operatives of sucessive military regimes murdered more than 100,000 civilians.


[font size=6]ETC.[/font]

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #7)

Wed Sep 2, 2015, 06:34 PM

8. Reference to a murder, torture, U.S. citizen, her Guatemalan husband, and the CIA:

Human Rights Brief

A Legal Resource for the International Human Rights Community

Volume 9 Issue 3
Bámaca Velásquez V. Guatemala: An Expansion
of the Inter-American System's Jurisprudence on Reparations
by Megan Hagler and Francisco Rivera*

On November 28 and 29, 2001, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Court) held hearings for the reparations phase of Bámaca Velásquez v. Guatemala, a landmark case that expanded the scope of reparations for cases of forced disappearance in the inter-American system. At the reparations hearing, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Commission) requested that the Court order the exhumation and return of the disappeared body as a specific remedy. In its judgment on reparations, released on February 22, 2002, the Court granted the Commission's request and ordered the Guatemalan government to exhume the body and return it to the victim's family. Because the Court has never before ordered the exhumation of a body in a case of forced disappearance, the Court's ruling on reparations in the Bámaca case is a significant development in forced disappearance jurisprudence in the inter-American system.

History of the Case

On March 12, 1992, the Guatemalan army captured Efraín Bámaca Velásquez, a Mayan comandante of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG), during Guatemala's civil war. The army secretly detained and tortured Bámaca for over a year before killing him in September 1993. According to an eyewitness, Bámaca was last seen "lying half-naked on a bed, with his eyes bandaged and an arm and leg bandaged" and with his face swollen. His body has never been found. For the last ten years, Jennifer Harbury, Bámaca's wife, has been searching for truth, justice, and her husband's body.

Hoping to find her husband alive, Harbury filed petitions for habeas corpus, pursued several criminal lawsuits, and carried out a series of hunger strikes in front of Guatemalan military headquarters and in front of the United States White House. At that time Harbury did not know that Bámaca was already dead. In 1995, three years after Bámaca's disappearance, U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli disclosed that Bámaca was assassinated in 1993 upon orders of Guatemalan Colonel Julio Roberto Alpírez, a former paid CIA informant and a graduate of the School of Americas, a U.S. Army training center based in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Since 1995, Harbury has focused her efforts on obtaining her husband's remains. To this end, Harbury participated in various exhumations in attempting to identify her husband's remains. These exhumations were unsuccessful due to a number of obstructions by Guatemalan agents. Although it was fully aware that the bodies exhumed belonged to people other than Bámaca, the government of Guatemala carried out the exhumations under the pretext that the exhumed bodies at least matched Bámaca's characteristics. None of the bodies exhumed so far resembles the physical characteristics of Bámaca or appears to have died of the same causes.

In 1995, CIA documents provided information indicating that Bámaca's remains were buried in a Guatemalan military base called Las Cabañas. To this day, no exhumation has been conducted at Las Cabañas base, and Guatemalan authorities have stated that they would "continue to obstruct any exhumation procedure in Las Cabañas until they receive an amnesty."

Despite official stonewalling, Harbury has continued with her quest for justice simultaneously on three fronts. First, the Guatemalan government has denied Harbury justice despite her continuous demands for a full investigation and the return of her husband's body. Second, in the United States, Harbury filed a Freedom of Information Act suit against the CIA, which is allegedly withholding vital information regarding her husband's case. Harbury also filed a Bivens action, a case for damages against a federal agent who violates the U.S. Constitution while acting under color of law. In this case, which Harbury argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, she claimed that CIA officials participated in torturing and murdering her husband, and that while he was being tortured, and for more than a year and a half after his death, U.S. State Department and National Security Council officials systematically concealed information from her and misled her about her husband's fate. Finally, Harbury has sought justice through the inter-American human rights system.



Jennifer Harbury


Published on Monday, March 18, 2002 in the Washington Post
Slain Rebel's Wife to Plead Case Before High Court
by Charles Lane

A political and legal drama that began 10 years ago in a remote corner of Guatemala reaches the Supreme Court today, where a lawyer-activist will argue for the right to sue former senior U.S. officials for allegedly covering up the murder of her husband, a Guatemalan rebel leader who died in Guatemalan army custody.

Jennifer K. Harbury says her constitutional right of access to the courts was violated by then-Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher, then-national security adviser Anthony Lake, and five other White House and State Department officials who, she says, falsely assured her in 1993 and 1994 that they were looking into Efrain Bamaca Velasquez's fate.

"But for those deceptive statements," Harbury said in an interview, "I could have gone to court and saved his life."

Although its origins lie in a bygone chapter of U.S. foreign policy, and the ultimate result is likely to turn on how broadly the justices define the right of access to the courts, the Harbury case is attracting attention as a conflict between citizens' right to know what their government is doing – and the government's need to operate in secrecy under some circumstances.

It arises at a time when the United States and its allies are conducting secret intelligence, law enforcement and military operations against terrorists around the world – amid criticism from civil libertarians that secrecy could prevent accountability for violations of human rights.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #7)

Wed Sep 2, 2015, 08:57 PM

9. For those who haven't known, the US also conducted syphillis experiments on Guatemalans.

Agence France Presse

Obama apologizes to Guatemala for US human experiments

President Barack Obama personally apologized to his Guatemalan counterpart for a US-led study conducted in the 1940s, in which hundreds of people in the Latin American state were deliberately infected with sexually-transmitted diseases.

In a phone conversation with Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, Obama expressed his deep regret for the experiment conducted by US public health researchers in Guatemala between 1946 and 1948, and apologized "to all those affected." The US president also vowed that all human medical studies conducted today will be held to exacting US and international legal and ethical standards.

"This is shocking, it's tragic, it's reprehensible," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters, adding to apologies and outrage voiced by the president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other US officials.

In an impromptu news conference in Guatemala Friday, Colom denounced the study as "a crime against humanity", and said he had learned of the gruesome years-long experiment in the phone call from Clinton.


[center]~ ~ ~[/center]
Studies show 'dark chapter' of medical research

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
October 1, 2010 6:08 p.m. EDT

. . .

While the Tuskegee study was still going in the 1940s, other efforts that would never meet today's medical ethics standards were going on elsewhere. The Public Health Service did research at a U.S. prison in 1944 that involved injecting inmates with gonorrhea, Reverby said. That project was abandoned, and the Public Health Service turned to Guatemala to more closely examine syphilis and in what ways penicillin could treat or prevent it, Reverby said in documents posted on her website.

"The whole fact that the Public Health Service was very aware about the ethical problems is very characteristic of American international health policy at the time, which was very condescending to other countries," Brown said.

. . .

The Guatemala syphilis research involved 696 subjects who came from the Guatemala National Penitentiary, army barracks and the National Mental Health Hospital, according to Reverby's research. These subjects did not give direct permission to participate. Instead, the authorities signed them up. There were also 772 patients exposed to gonorrhea and 142 subjects exposed to chancres, according to a CDC report.

Unlike the Tuskegee project, these participants were given the diseases as part of the experiment.

"The doctors used prostitutes with the disease to pass it to the prisoners (sexual visits were allowed by law in Guatemalan prisons) and then did direct inoculations made from syphilis bacteria poured onto the men's penises or on forearms and faces that were slightly abraded when the 'normal exposure' produced little disease, or in a few cases through spinal punctures," Reverby wrote.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Sep 2, 2015, 03:20 PM

4. Big K&R! The protests are working! DUer Catherina is there and posted pics


the crowds are HUGE!

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Sep 2, 2015, 04:39 PM

5. Guatemalan president will be convicted of graft: AG

Guatemalan president will be convicted of graft: AG
By AFP 1 hour ago .

Guatemala's attorney general said Wednesday she is confident embattled President Otto Perez will be convicted of corruption, as the country's top court rejected his challenge to prosecutors' moves to try him.

The conservative leader is against the ropes after Congress voted unanimously Tuesday to strip him of his immunity, clearing the way for prosecutors to go ahead with their case against him.

Investigators accuse Perez of running a scheme in which businesses paid bribes to dodge taxes on their imports, defrauding the country of millions of dollars.

"There's a criminal case and we will go to trial and then a verdict. In my opinion and based on what I know of the case, it will have to be a conviction," Attorney General Thelma Aldana told AFP.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Sep 2, 2015, 05:38 PM

6. Nobel winner Menchu hails Guatemala's 'great awakening'

Nobel winner Menchu hails Guatemala's 'great awakening'
By Katell Abiven (AFP) 1 hour ago.

Guatemalan Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu sees the unprecedented protests calling for the ouster of President Otto Perez as a historic moment for a country long torn by violence, poverty and inequality.

Speaking just before Guatemala's Congress voted Tuesday to strip Perez of his immunity over allegations of massive corruption -- the first such decision in the Central American country's history -- Menchu told AFP the protests represent "a great awakening of the people."

Menchu, an indigenous activist persecuted by the regime during Guatemala's long civil war (1960-1996), won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her fight for social justice and reconciliation between the country's ethnic and cultural groups.

The 56-year-old Quiche Mayan leader is a long-time critic of Perez, a conservative ex-general who has refused to stand down before his term ends on January 14.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Sep 3, 2015, 07:10 AM

10. Perez has resigned (link)


On Thursday morning, Pérez’s defiance disintegrated as his spokesman announced that the president had stepped down after all, according to the Wall Street Journal and AFP. The spokesman said Pérez was stepping down to deal “individually with the proceedings against him,” reported AFP.

The resignation came just a few hours after a judge ordered Pérez to appear in court to face charges of fraud, illicit association and corruption related to an alleged massive, multi-million-dollar customs fraud ring.

“We are convinced that he is involved (in the scheme),” Attorney General Thelma Aldana told Canal Antigua.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Sep 14, 2015, 06:49 PM

11. Crumbling political support for Tahoe Resources in Guatemala

Crumbling political support for Tahoe Resources in Guatemala
By Jennifer Moore | September 14, 2015

If the militarized security strategy that Tahoe Resources has used to put its Escobal silver mine into operation isn't enough to raise questions about the ethics of the company's operations in Guatemala, the recent resignation of Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina should be. Pérez Molina stepped down on September 2 after Congress voted to strip him of his political immunity. A week later, he was indicted on charges of illicit association, customs fraud, and bribery for his involvement in a customs network that robbed tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Rewind to July 2013, when former President Otto Pérez Molina made a personal site visit to the Escobal mine located in San Rafael las Flores in the department of Santa Rosa. The visit took place just a few months after Tahoe's head of security was arrested for his role in the shooting of seven peaceful protesters and a subsequent month-long military state of siege was imposed on four municipalities in the area. While at the mine, Pérez Molina mingled with workers and filmed a national television address affirming support for the project.

Today, Pérez Molina is accused of heading the “La Linea” customs fraud ring that is said to have benefited transnational companies by offering lower import taxes in exchange for handsome pay-offs to politicians. Vice-president Roxana Baldetti has also been indicted on the same charges and over a dozen cabinet ministers potentially implicated in the fraud scandal have resigned, including Minister of Energy and Mines, Erik Archila. Archila approved Tahoe's exploitation license in April 2013 without taking into consideration over 250 individual complaints filed against the license for potential impacts on water and health of the local population.

While it is unclear if Tahoe or other North American mining companies such as Goldcorp benefited from the fraud ring, the company's cozy relationship with Otto Pérez Molina's scandal-ridden government has been well documented. During his administration, state-sponsored repression plagued communities in resistance to Tahoe and has facilitated the imposition of the Escobal mine against the will of the local population.


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