La Federación de Partidos Verdes de las Américas (FPVA) or the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas condemns the arrest of members of the Ecological Movement of Guatemala by the Guatemalan government.
The FPVA reacts to the arrests
The FPVA has strongly condemned the government of Guatemala’s decision to arrest green leaders, members of the Ecological Movement of Guatemala. The FPVA urged immediate action on behalf of the government in a statement released on May 28th, 2021:
The statement also included the rejection of the
intimidation practices towards political opponents that are often practiced in Latin America. Additionally, the process of judicilization of politics where legal actors and courts can influence political decisions has also been condemned in light of the incident. The FPVA urges Guatemala to respect the articles of the Escazú Agreement. The agreement is supposed to commit South American and Caribbean states to protect organizations and groups that advocate for environmentalism and human rights from political threats.
Green parties in the Americas such as Chile’s Partido Ecologista Verde have announced their solidarity with the Ecological Movement of Guatemala. In a twitter post Partido Ecologista Verde denounced the political arrests.
Escazú Agreement and human rights
The Escazú Agreement is the first environmental human rights treaty in South America and the Caribbean. The Agreement was adopted at the ninth meeting of the negotiating committee of the regional agreement on access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean held in Escazú, Costa Rica in march 2018. While Guatemala has signed the Escazú Agreement, it is still in the process of ratifying it.
The country has a poor track record when it comes to human rights violations, especially those regarding activists and politicians protecting the land and the environment. For this reason the FPVA is furious at the events because this agreement would level the playing field in favor of environmentalists.
According to Front Line Defenders, Guatemala has the fifth highest number of murdered rights/land defenders in Latin America. In 2020, 15 activist deaths
Corruption and intimidation
Guatemala has an organized crime problem which fuels most of the country’s violence. Besides the violence problem, corruption often gets in the way of justice. As judicial proceedings can be lengthy and complicated with various actors in all branches of government having a stake, transparency is anything but clear.
The judicial system of Guatemala is filled with arbitrary justice appointments along with conflicts of interest in the appointment processes. Firstly this results in lengthy periods before approval of appointees to any court because corruption allegations are often in the air. Secondly, since judges are not appointed in a timely manner and face corruption charges in general, the justice system is unable to protect vulnerable groups.
When ratified, the Escazú Agreement would give a protective cushion to environmentalists and green leaders in Guatemala as it would provide a legitimate legal protection treaty. Meanwhile, at the time of writing, the FPVA is standing firm on their demands for the release of political prisoners of the Ecological Movement of Guatemala.