Guatemalan woman, killed in Texas, buried

This 3 June 2018 video from Guatemala is called Claudia Gomez Funeral: Teenager Killed by U.S. Border Patrol.

Resisting Trump’s child snatching border policy, by John Wojcik and Earchiel Johnson.


Trump’s Border Patrol kills Guatemalan woman

This 26 May 2018 video from the USA is called Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzales.

By Alec Andersen in the USA:

US Border Patrol agent executes Guatemalan woman

28 May 2018

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is seeking to whitewash the extrajudicial execution of an unarmed Guatemalan woman by a Border Patrol agent on Wednesday, in the Texas border town of Rio Bravo, 15 miles southeast of Laredo.

The woman, identified as 20-year-old Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, left her home town of San Juan Ostuncalco, Guatemala, more than two weeks before in the hope of joining her boyfriend and finding work in Virginia. She was traveling through Rio Bravo as part of a group of Central American migrants who had just made the treacherous journey across the Rio Grande and into the United States without immigration documents, when they were confronted by an as yet unidentified Border Patrol agent at about 12:30 p.m. local time.

Under circumstances that remain unexplained, the agent fired a single shot from his handgun into the back of Gomez’s head, killing her instantly.

CBP has since given multiple accounts attempting to justify the agent’s actions. An initial statement issued by the agency claimed that one of its agents was investigating reports of “illegal activity” in the town when he was attacked by immigrants wielding “blunt objects,” later identified as two-by-four pieces of lumber. In response, the agent “fatally wounded one of the assailants.”

Two days later, on Friday, CBP released another statement making no mention of any objects used to attack the agent, but instead claiming that the officer commanded the immigrants to “get on the ground,” but “the group ignored his verbal commands and instead rushed the officer.” In this latest version of events, CBP no longer claims that the victim was an “assailant”, but merely a “member of the group.” The three men traveling with Gonzalez were apprehended and may be deported before they can provide statements or testify in the event that charges are ultimately brought against the agent.

CBP has refused to comment further on the incident and canceled a press conference scheduled for Friday. The agent has been placed on administrative leave while the killing is investigated by the FBI and the Texas Rangers.

Marta Martinez told the Los Angeles Times that she was inside her house at the time of the shooting and ran outside upon hearing the gunshot. When she emerged, she saw a woman lying face-down on the ground, her head covered in blood, and a uniformed Border Patrol agent standing over her, gun in hand. In a video broadcast on Facebook Live, an officer can be seen flipping the woman’s body over and performing chest compressions, though it is apparent the woman is dead.

Martinez said she watched as an agent captured two men who had tried to run away and heard him telling the men in reference to their murdered companion, “This is what happens. You see? Look what happened.” Martinez also heard the agent telling the men, “Be quiet, you have weapons” in an apparent attempt to justify the shooting.

She noted that although she did not witness what happened prior to the shooting, “There was no weapon. They were hiding.”

In a statement Friday, Guatemala’s secretary of the National Council for Migrant Assistance, Carlos Narez, called for an “exhaustive, impartial investigation” and made an impotent plea for the US to observe international human rights law, saying: “Guatemala is saddened by whatever violence and excess use of force was used by the Border Patrol and calls to respect, at all times, all the rights of our people and whomever may be held by immigration, especially with respect to life.”

In a Friday interview with the news channel Guatevision, Claudia’s mother, Lidia Gonzalez Visquez, said that her daughter had earned a degree in accounting but was unable to find work for the past two years. “She left home 15 days ago, saying, ‘Mamita, we’re going to go on ahead. There’s no work here.’ But shamefully, they killed her. US immigration police killed her.”

At a Friday press conference, Claudia’s aunt, Dominga Vicente, denounced her niece’s killing and the anti-immigrant policies of the US government. She said: “We want justice to be done and for her murderer to pay with prison… I think it is the [US] government that is giving these orders. This isn’t the first person to be dying in the country. They have treated them like animals and it is not the way people should be treated. I ask that the authorities and institutions hand down a punishment or that attention is called to the US government so that they will no longer treat us like animals.”

This is an apparent reference to Trump’s recent tirade against immigrants, whom he referred to as “animals” and “rapists”. Trump has used such fascistic rhetoric to whip up an anti-immigrant atmosphere and incite violence against immigrant communities in conjunction with an escalating campaign of state terror waged by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CBP agents. In effect, the administration has given the more than 21,000 Border Patrol agents a blank check to stop the flow of immigrants into the United by whatever means necessary.

Karina Alvarez of the Laredo Immigrant Alliance told the Los Angeles Times, “We’ve been seeing a lot more Border Patrol because of all this anti-immigrant narrative that’s going on”, noting the effect of Trump’s description of migrants as “animals and rapists and murderers” on the attitudes and behavior of Border Patrol agents. She continued: “That is ultimately how they see us. We see that in this, and this is not an isolated case. This has happened before. The exception in this case is that it was videotaped.”

This is just the latest in a series of killings by Border Patrol agents in recent years, most of which go largely unreported. Last November, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed a man he claimed had tried to grab his gun, though this claim was never substantiated.

In April, Border Patrol officer Lonnie Swartz was acquitted of murder in connection with the 2012 cross-border shooting death of 16-year-old Mexican citizen Antonio Elena Rodriguez, despite the incident being captured on video. The boy was allegedly throwing rocks at Swartz, who was behind a 20-foot-high elevated fence. The agent shot Rodriguez in the back 10 times.

The Democrats have largely dropped even the pretense of defending immigrants against the attack being carried out by the Trump administration. They have consistently voted to increase the number of Border Patrol agents and provide funds for border fencing, drone surveillance and other “border security” measures that force desperate migrants into ever more dangerous routes to the US border. Though there is no reliable source of data, it is estimated that at least 10,000 people have died trying to cross the southern US border since 1994.

The summary execution of Claudia Gonzalez at the hands of the Border Patrol underscores the need for an independent working class struggle for the right of all workers to live and work where they choose with full legal and citizenship rights.

The US government recently admitted to losing track of almost 1,500 unaccompanied immigrant children who were placed in foster care. Steven Wagner, a top official from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), told a Senate subcommittee last month that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is tasked with placing immigrant children in the homes of sponsors, could not account for 1,475 missing youths in the last three months of 2017: here.

Guatemala war cimes and the USA

This video says about itself:

28 December 2016

Washington’s bloody fingerprints were all over the genocide and war crimes that defined Guatemala 36-year internal conflict, which ended on Dec. 29, 1996, with the signing of the country’s Peace Accords.

Good endangered salamander news from Guatemala

Long-limbed salamander

From Wildlife Extra:

Endangered salamander habitat saved in Guatemala

The last remaining forest home of two species of salamander, lost to science for nearly 40 years, has been saved following the completion of a land purchase supported by World Land Trust (WLT) and a consortium of funders.

The purchase of Finca San Isidro in the western highlands of Guatemala was finalised by WLT’s Guatemalan partner, Fundación Para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) in September 2015, following WLT’s donation towards the purchase earlier in 2015.

Among others, the species that are now protected are Finca Chiblac Salamander (Bradytriton silus), categorised by IUCN as Critically Endangered, and the Long-limbed Salamander (Nyctanolis pernix), categorised as Endangered.

High in Guatemala’s Cuchumatanes mountain range, the salamanders’ forest home had been slated for coffee production. Land clearance would have certainly gone ahead if it hadn’t been for the intervention of international funders.

FUNDAECO identified the importance of the property back in 2009. Finca San Isidro measures 2,280 acres (922.5 hectares) and of the total area, WLT funding has secured more than 800 acres (324 hectares). FUNDAECO will oversee the conservation management of the property.

“Thank you for the invaluable support we have received from World Land Trust in creating San Isidro Reserve, in the Western Highlands of Guatemala,” said Marco Cerezo, Director of FUNDAECO. “This important effort among research academics, local conservationists and organisations to fund the protection of unique ecosystems will help avoid the rapid degradation of this unique biological treasure and also assist the fight against poverty by supporting livelihoods for local communities.”

Good Guatemalan birds and amphibians news update

This video says about itself:

A singing male Pink-headed Warbler, Ergaticus (formerly Cardellina) versicolor, at the roadside edge of a large forest patch on the Ocosingo Highway in Chiapas, Mexico, on March 21, 2014.

From Wildlife Extra:

An important lagoon and montane forest property in Guatemala is purchased by conservation charity

Thanks to a donation from Puro Coffee the World Land Trust has the funds to help their partner Fundación Para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) purchase Laguna Brava in western Guatemala.

The property measures 1,186 acres (480 hectares), with the lake (Yolnabaj) takes up just under half the area of the property. The remainder is made up of some of the last remnants of the region’s montane tropical karst forest on the northern, southern and eastern side of the lake.

It supports many rare species including amphibians and birds and is home to three species of tree frog that are listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN, as well Lincoln’s Climbing Salamander, which is registered as Near Threatened.

The forest surrounding the lagoon hosts 72 different bird species including the Highlands Guan (Penelopina nigra), and the Pink-headed Warbler (Ergaticus versicolor), both registered by IUCN as Vulnerable.

“FUNDAECO’s determination to create this reserve, which forms the first protected reserve in the region, will help many previously unprotected but Critically Endangered species,” said Charlotte Beckham, WLT’s Conservation Programmes Co-ordinator.

Good Guatemalan migratory birds and amphibians news

This video from Guatemalsa is called Saving the Sierra Caral.

From Wildlife Extra:

Creation of new Guatemala reserve has big implications for bird migration

Conservationists are celebrating the government in Guatemala’s formal establishment of a new 47,000 acre (19,013 hectare) protected area that will safeguard some of the country’s most endangered wildlife.

The reserve is home to three species of threatened birds, a host of migratory birds that breed in the United States, a dozen globally threatened frogs and salamanders, five of which are found nowhere else in the world, and the rare Merendon palm pit viper (Bothriechis thalassinus), an arboreal, blue-toned venomous snake.

The National Congress of Guatemala established the National Protected Area by an overwhelming pro-conservation vote of 106 in favour out of a total of 125 congressmen present in the session.

It is the first new protected area designated by the Guatemalan Congress in nine years.

The Core Zone of the area, the 6,000 acre Sierra Caral Amphibian Conservation Reserve, was established in 2012 by Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) with assistance from, among others, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the World Land Trust, Global Wildlife Conservation and Southern Wings.

Tucked away in the eastern corner of Guatemala near the Caribbean Sea and running along the Honduran border, the newly protected area is named the Sierra Caral Water and Forest Reserve.

“We have been working to obtain the legal declaration of this new protected area for more than seven years,” said Marco Cerezo of FUNDAECO, a leading Guatemalan conservation organisation.

“Finally, the biological importance of Sierra Caral has been recognized by our National Congress. This new protected area brings us a step closer toward our dream, which is the conservation of key stop-over and wintering habitats for migratory birds along their flyway across Caribbean Guatemala.”

Along with other forested sites in the region, Sierra Caral contains critical overwintering and stopover sites for nearly 120 species of neotropical migratory birds, along with 13 species that are regionally endemic and three threatened species: highland guan, great curassow, and keel-billed motmot.

Migratory birds include the Canada warbler, Kentucky warbler, wood thrush, painted bunting, worm-eating warbler, and Louisiana waterthrush. Thirty-three migratory species with population declines in their breeding grounds have been reported in Sierra Caral.

Exploration of these mountains over the past two decades has yielded several new discoveries of beetles, salamanders, frogs, and snakes. At least 118 species of amphibians and reptiles are reported for this area, including seven endemic amphibians only recently discovered there.

“Guatemalan officials demonstrated great vision in establishing this protected area,” said Andrew Rothman, Migratory Bird Program Director at ABC. “They have preserved a key link in the migration corridor between North and South America for migratory birds and ensured North American breeding songbirds will have stopover and wintering ground habitat to use during migration.

“Without question, it is a key addition to Central America’s roster of protected areas.”

Thousands of years ago, the Sierra Caral Mountains were likely islands where species evolved that are found nowhere else.

With the additional convergence of North and South American flora and fauna in this region, Sierra Caral is one of the most unique places for wildlife on Earth.