PBI-Guatemala accompanies trial of union member, students, professors who opposed fraudulent election of university rector

Published by Brent Patterson on

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PBI-Guatemala has posted:

“Last week, PBI accompanied the Human Rights Law Firm [BDH] to the hearing of first statement of 8 people criminalized in the case ‘USAC Takeover: Political Spoils’.

The MP [Public Ministry] accuses students, unionists and professionals of depredation of cultural assets, aggravated usurpation, unlawful association and sedition for supporting the university resistance that opposed the imposition of Walter Mazariegos as rector of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC).

The judge scheduled the next hearing for Tuesday, February 13, where it will be known if any of the accused wishes to give a statement.”

On February 13, Prensa Comunitaria tweeted: “Today the hearing of the first statement of the people criminalized for opposition to the imposition of rector Walter Mazariegos was resumed. Judge Víctor Cruz will listen to students, union members and professionals from the USAC, who supported the student movement that denounced the imposition of Mazariegos.”

Those accused

The six facing charges of “continued aggravated usurpation, continued plunder of cultural property, and criminal conspiracy” are: 1) Rodolfo Chang Shium, 2) Alfredo Bebe Aceituno, 3) Javier de León Gómez, 4) Marcela Blanco Fuentes, 5) Eduardo Antonio Velásquez Carrera, and 6) Martín Jorge Macario. The group is said to include: a student, a dean (and member of the CSU/Higher University Council), a trade unionist, a researcher, a teacher, and an activist.

Public Services International (PSI) has posted: “We demand the cancellation of the orders against the trade unionists and the immediate release of comrade Martín Jorge Macario, 43, a General Services worker at USAC and former leader of the union of workers at this university (STUSC).”

Photo: Martín Jorge Macario.

Soy 502 reports: “Marcela Blanco is 23 years old and has a degree in Communication Sciences from Rafael Landívar University. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration.” She was a candidate for Semilla party (the Seed Movement) in the June 2023 general election.

Photo: Marcela Blanco being taken into custody, November 2023.

Plaza Publica has also reported: “Participating in the protests that rejected Walter Mazariegos as rector of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC), was the basis of the MP to accuse Eduardo Antonio Velásquez, economist, sociologist, professor and researcher. ‘Guayo’ is one of those implicated in the USAC Takeover: Political Booty case. …According to the accusatory thesis, he is responsible for the damages caused to the University during the seizure of the facilities in rejection of the election of the rector Walter Mazariegos.”

Photo: The accused were held at the Mariscal Zavala Military Barracks.

The background

Mouvement Démocratie Nouvelle has explained:

“Mazariegos was elected rector of the University of San Carlos in a controversial election [on May 14, 2022] and is seen by his critics as a confidant of the pact of the corrupt [Pacto de Corruptos]. Seven electoral representatives of the faculties in which Mazariegos’ opponents had won were excluded. The most promising opponent, former human rights president Jordán Rodas, was forced into exile in August [2022] following threats from far-right circles.

The rector of the University of San Carlos has the right to vote and thus influence in various state committees. Critics accuse Mazariegos of seeking a process of gradual privatization of Guatemala’s only public university. To protest what they see as a manipulated election, student organizations occupied the capital’s central campus in late April 2022; Their action lasted until June of [2023]. Various university branches in the country were also occupied for months.”

Prensa Comunitaria further notes:

“On Wednesday, July 19, [2023] the U.S. Department of State published the Engel List in which they sanction citizens of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, accused of being involved in corruption cases. In Guatemala, there are several names of judges, prosecutors and officials. The list includes Walter Mazariegos, rector of the University of San Carlos (USAC), rejected by the student community for reaching this position through a fraud promoted by the government.”

We continue to follow this with concern.


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