Written by: BTS Cooperant Indigo Christ
Marking women’s history month and the one-year anniversary of the global pandemic, March has brought an acute awareness and action for the increase of gender-based violence in Guatemala over the past year. March also marks the arrival of the first vaccines to Guatemala and wide-spread concern over the recent Constitutional Court elections. Read more about the top three issues in Guatemala right now:
- Women Rising
This year, Women’s History Month in Guatemala is being marked by women rising up to celebrate their power, raise awareness about gender-based violence, and demand justice and accountability. Women-led organizations across the country have launched campaigns including the #TengoMiedo (#IAmAfraid) social media campaign, and the ‘End Sexualized Violence Against Women’ campaign, aiming to counteract the reality that five women disappear in Guatemala every day. In honour of International Women’s Day, marches, rallies, and concerts were held across the country and a memorial was held in the capital for the victims of the Hogar Seguro fire, which took the lives of 41 girls on International Women’s Day in 2017.
2. Constitutional Court Elections
The elections for Guatemala’s highest judicial body, the Constitutional Court, have recently ended in a process marked by irregularities, inquiries, arrest warrants, and secretive selection processes. There has been wide-spread criticism from social organizations, student associations, ancestral authorities like the Xinka Parliament, and even the Vice President, calling for the election of ‘courts, not mafias’. In a system plagued by corruption, the previous Constitutional Court created a semblance of accountability and delivered verdicts such as the suspension of the Canadian-owned Escobal Mine. The new line-up of magistrates marks a troubling shift, as it includes Efrain Rios Montt’s former lawyer, representatives who have staunchly opposed anti-corruption legislation, and the Ministry of Energy and Mine’s pick.
3. COVID-19 Vaccines
After much anticipation and numerous delays, COVID-19 vaccines have begun to arrive in Guatemala. On February 25th, 5000 doses donated by Israel arrived, followed by 100,000 doses donated by India on March 2nd. 81,600 doses received through the COVAX mechanism arrived on March 11th. Guatemala has begun vaccinating frontline workers, but President Giammatei’s administration has faced scrutiny for a lack of a distribution plan, connections to fake COVID tests, and the lack of transparency regarding public vaccination records.