The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Guatemala

By Vexen Crabtree 2018

#equality #freedom #guatemala #human_rights #politics #tolerance #venezuela

Guatemala
Republic of Guatemala

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index90th best
CapitalGuatemala
Land Area 107 160km21
LocationNorth America, The Americas, Central America
Population17.2m2
Life Expectancy72.06yrs (2017)3
GNI$7 063 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesGT, GTM, 3205
Internet Domain.gt6
CurrencyQuetzal (GTQ)7
Telephone+5028

Guatemala does relatively well in ensuring human rights and freedom, compared to many other countries. Guatemala comes in the best 20 when it comes to its nominal commitment to Human Rights9. It does better than average in commentary in Human Rights Watch reports10, LGBT equality11 (although the government in 2017 was busy trying to make things worse12), speed of uptake of HR treaties13 and in supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms14. Guatemala does not succeed in everything, however. It does worse than average in terms of its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice15, supporting press freedom16 and in opposing gender inequality17 (one of the worst in The Americas). "Violence and extortion by powerful criminal organizations remain serious"12, as does the efforts of President Jimmy Morales who has been abusing the legal system to prevent himself from incarceration for illegal campaign funding12. Iván Velásquez made applaudable progress with the UN in prosecuting human rights and corruption cases, but was then exiled by his own President for it12. Some Government officials are involved in targeting and harassing journalists that they do not like (including instigating assassinations)12.


1. Guatemala's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)18,19
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank18,19
1Denmark9.7
2Sweden10.0
3Norway16.1
...
48Bolivia60.0
49S. Africa60.3
50Serbia61.1
51Guatemala63.3
52Kosovo63.8
53Ukraine64.2
54El Salvador64.3
55Jamaica64.6
56Greece64.8
World Avg89.8
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Denmark, Sweden and Norway18. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are Tuvalu, The Solomon Islands and Palestine18.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice and LGBT equality. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe18, whereas the worst are Micronesia, Melanesia and Australasia18.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

In 2017:

Guatemala continued to make progress in prosecuting human rights and corruption cases, due in significant part to the collaboration of the Attorney General´s Office with the United Nations [and together at the time of writing] were prosecuting more than a dozen currentand former Congress members. [...] In July 2017, an appellate court confirmed the conviction of two former military officers for crimes against humanity in the form of sexual violence and domestic and sexual slavery. [However, ] President Jimmy Morales ordered the expulsion of [its Commissioner responsible for the collaboration] Iván Velásquez from the country - two days after [they] sought to lift the president´s immunity to investigate his alleged role in illicit campaign financing. [...]

Violence and extortion by powerful criminal organizations remain serious problems in Guatemala. Gang-related violence is an important factor prompting people, including unaccompanied youth, to leave the country.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)12

Along with 11 others, Guatemala signed the Lima Declaration in 2017, condemning "the assault on democratic order and the systematic violation of human rights in Venezuela"20.

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)10
Pos.Higher is better
Score10
1UK9
2France9
3Germany9
...
40Ukraine0
41Nepal0
42S. Korea0
43Guatemala-1
44Armenia-1
45Ivory Coast-1
46Kosovo-1
47Honduras-1
World Avg-1.9
q=123.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)9
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties9
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
...
18Austria22
19Brazil21
20Montenegro21
21Guatemala21
22Mali21
23Azerbaijan21
24Bosnia & Herzegovina21
25Bolivia21
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)13
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty13
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
63Guyana7.85
64Tanzania8.05
65Nicaragua8.10
66Guatemala8.10
67Netherlands8.29
68Belgium8.30
69Greece8.44
70Kenya8.58
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)14
Pos.Lower is better
Rank14
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
...
65Madagascar65
66Brunei66
67Serbia67
68Guatemala68
69Moldova69
70Namibia69
71Bolivia71
72Indonesia72
World Avg79.7
q=159.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)21

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)16
Pos.Lower is better16
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
91Guinea-Bissau2894
92Seychelles2919
93Northern Cyprus2934
94Guatemala2939
95Ivory Coast2977
96Liberia2989
97Mongolia2993
98Mali3003
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

Some Government officials are involved in targeting and harassing journalists that they do not like.

Journalists are targets of harassment and violence. In June 2017, TV journalist Carlos Rodríguez survived a gunshot to the head. In June 2016, radio journalist álvaro Aceituno was killed, and in March 2015, journalists Danilo López and Federico Salazar were assassinated [and] Julio Juárez from government party FCN-Nación in the latter crime. Juárez´ political immunity was lifted in November 2017.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)12

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)22
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims22
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
...
58S. Africa0.28
59Slovakia0.29
60Czechia0.29
61Guatemala0.29
62Nicaragua0.29
63Senegal0.29
64Trinidad & Tobago0.30
65Yemen0.31
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory23. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends24. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life25. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves26.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery27. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity28. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.29. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi22, Eritrea22, Indonesia30) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery31.

In 2017 two former military officers were convicted for sexual violence and sexual slavery, as part of a renewed push for good governance, although there has been a top-level backlash from those who would have normally found themselves immune12.

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

Guatemala is an unequal country, with male rights dominating those of women.

Women are poorly protected, and protests against poor conditions in women's shelters led to guards allowing dozens to burn to death, rather than let out locked-up protestors12. Access to family planning is far too restricted, and abortions are only legal to save the mother's life, else women and girls face 3-year prison sentences12.

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality (2015)17
Pos.Lower is better17
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
111Jordan0.48
112Cambodia0.48
113Morocco0.49
114Guatemala0.49
115Nepal0.50
116Ethiopia0.50
117Guyana0.51
118Iran0.51
World Avg0.36
q=159.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
62Cameroon1946
63Macedonia1946
64Venezuela1946
65Guatemala1946
66Vietnam1946
67Trinidad & Tobago1946
68Singapore1947
69Pakistan1947
World Avg1930
q=189.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)15
Pos.Lower is better
%15
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
...
60Paraguay35
61Kenya35
62Lithuania36
63Guatemala36
64France37
65Chile37
66Azerbaijan37
67Ukraine38
World Avg36.8
q=101.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews32,33,34,35. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East36, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews37,38. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"39. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males40.

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

In a humane and moral system, government should actively protect minorities. However in Guatemala the opposite is true, and in April 2017 a bill was proposed, "supported by over30,000 signatures, to explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage. The bill also aimed to restrain public schools from teaching students about sexual diversity and 'gender ideology'"12, fuelling the social fires of bigotry and prejudice.

LGBT Equality (2017)11
Pos.Higher is better
Score11
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
47Romania39
48San Marino35
49Montenegro35
50Guatemala35
51Japan35
52Bosnia & Herzegovina35
53Georgia35
54Nicaragua35
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence41. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws42. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries41. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.