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20 May 2016

Jeff Abbot, Upside Down World

Guatemala: Criminal libel case against peasant leader opposing cement plant threatens to stifle dissent by human rights defenders

“A war by other means: Attacks on free speech threaten social and indigenous movements in Guatemala”, 16 May 2016

On February…a criminal court in Guatemala City allowed proceedings to begin in a legal case against Daniel Pascual…which could greatly affect the freedom of speech in Guatemala…The case…has potential ramifications for other leaders of human rights organizations…and threats their ability to express their opinions in the national and international media. In 2013, supporters of a controversial San Gabriel cement factory attacked Pascual…during a visit to communities resisting the construction of the cement factory…Following the attack, Pascual had associated the attackers with the nationally syndicated newspaper columns by Ricardo Mendez Ruiz…Mendez Ruiz argued that the statement amounted to libel and slander, and opened up a legal case against the campesino leader…The charges against Pascual, and against other high-profile organizations and community leaders represent the use of the rule of law as a means to crush dissent…