Leocadio Jurcan of the CCDA, the Xinka Parliament, congress representative Aldo Davila of the Semilla bank, and students, before the Presidential Home in Guatemala City at a press conference to call upon Indigenous peoples from across the Guatemalan territory to join the National Strike July 26th and demand the resignation of Alejandro Giammattei and Consuelo Porras. Photo credits: CCDA

Guatemalan civil society received two sad blows on the evening of Friday July 23; the destitution of Juan Francisco Sandoval, head of Guatemala’s Anti-Impunity Unit (FECI) and the approval of the controversial “Family Protection and Institutionalization” Law.

The decision to remove Sandoval from his post, effective immediately, was made by Consuelo Porras, Guatemala’s Attorney General, a figure known for protecting an inner circle of corrupt politicians and ruling elite often referred to as “the pact of the corrupt.”  The move demonstrates the escalating attacks against those working to end impunity and continues the shift towards a complete alignment of corrupt executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government. The news prompted immediate uproar from civil society across the country including from small-scale farmer and Indigenous organizations as well as BTS partners.  Protests were held throughout the weekend and a call for a national strike is currently in effect today, with further calls to be announced soon.  Civil society is calling for the Attorney General’s resignation and an immediate re-institution of Sandoval.  Hours following his destitution, and with growing threats to his safety and that of his family, Sandoval fled the country.

Also on Friday, news broke about the approval of the “Family Law”, oriented towards the protection of the ‘conventional family’.  The initiative is seen as a way to criminalize non-traditional LGBTQI families and communities and hinder the organizing abilities of groups working for reproductive justice and the right to choose.  Guatemala’s president has called the push for this law a “faith struggle”, appealing to the support of powerful conservative religious groups.  The ambiguity of the law and lack of transparency under which it was created are cited as key reasons for concerns.  

Friday’s events present further challenges to the struggle for justice in Guatemala and clearly demonstrate the direction in which the Guatemalan government and its institutions are heading.  We continue to be concerned about the situation in Guatemala and the escalating tensions and attacks against human rights and land defenders.  We ask that you all remain vigilant about events in Guatemala and continue to be on hand to support in future calls for actions that may come as a result of the growing climate of repression organizers in the country are facing.