Presidential Elections in Guatemala: What is the Future of Freedom of Expression?

first_img August 21, 2020 Find out more Follow the news on Guatemala GuatemalaAmericas Condemning abusesMedia independence Freedom of expression Guatemala is in number 116 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index published by RSF in April 2019. January 7, 2021 Find out more Guatemala. Don’t put the Guatemalan press in quarantine! News On Sunday, June 16, the Guatemalan citizenry will participate in general elections to elect their next president and Members of Congress of the Republic for the 2020-2024 term. Traditionally, electoral years are periods in which attacks against freedom of expression and the press become more acute, especially in remote areas with little State presence. During the last elections (2015), the Observatorio de los Periodistas, an organization specializing in compiling and analyzing attacks against journalists, compiled 111 cases, including the assassination of three journalists.In this context, Guatemalan journalists face a hostile scenario in order to freely perform their work, characterized by the passivity of the public security organs in cases of violence recorded against journalists and the indifference of current President Jimmy Morales, who during the last three years constantly took advantage of his public speeches to attack and generate animosity against the press.The tumultuous period being experienced by the country gives rise to fear that these acts, as well as the use of criminal law, smear campaigns on social media, and attacks on websites, will be repeated during the coming months.Historic violence against the pressLocal officials and politicians employ diverse actions to attack the press and attempt to silence publications, criticisms, or investigations that might compromise their aspirations for power.  These actions range from the massive purchase of newspapers in particular areas to attacks against journalists or the closure of news broadcasts in local media.Censorship and self-censorship continue to be one of the principal problems faced by the press in the country’s departments.  Frequently, journalists avoid researching or publishing information related to organized crime, embezzlement of funds, or illegal acts by public institutions due to the repercussions they or their families might suffer.  The officers and structures of organized crime are identified by journalists as being the principal censors and in numerous cases it is suspected that a close relationship exists between criminal structures and public authorities.Likewise, journalists avoid publicly or criminally denouncing the acts perpetrated against them out of fear of suffering greater reprisals or out of a lack of trust in the justice system institutions. The little progress made by investigations, heightened level of impunity, lack of interest of the authorities, and cooptation of justice sector representatives by criminal structures or political actors significantly influence this self-censorship.Journalist Protection Program: a shelved promiseJournalists were hopeful that Morales would finally implement a specialized security program for their profession when in March 2016 he invalidated the process that had been launched by the previous government characterized by lacking legitimacy and being led by a consultant with no experience who acted opaquely and had prohibited the participation of journalists.At that time, the government, through the Ministry of Social Communication, asked the Alianza de Entidades de Prensa [Alliance of Press Entities] – comprised of national and departmental press associations seeking approval of the program – to develop a new proposal to initiate the development of the Journalist Protection Program.The initiative was submitted and in July 2016 the President endorsed its implementation. Unfortunately, as with many other promises, it remained shelved and its process stalled.“Morales not only did not fulfill his promise of creating a Journalist Protection Program but rather, throughout his term he created an unfavorable context for journalists by accusing them of disseminating fake news in order to confuse the population and damage the government’s image,” notes Miguel Ángel Juárez, President of APG.Official negative attitude toward the pressRSF and APG lament the deterioration of the stance of Jimmy Morales’ government toward the press, due to the constant confrontation and public attacks by the President against the news media.“Contrary to what had been thought at the beginning of his administration, with the promise of his door being open to the press and having given his manifest support to the creation of the Journalist Protection Program, Morales became the most uncompromising president with regard to criticism and investigations by the independent press,” declared Emmanuel Colombié, head of the Latin America Office of RSF.The President was also characterized by constantly avoiding reporters and refusing to respond to questions on controversial topics.  While on one hand the President avoids answering questions posed by the media, on the other he takes advantage of his pubic speeches to paint himself as a victim in the face of questioning by the press by declaring that all they are is “fake news” seeking to harm his image. This stance encourages his followers or civil servants to commit acts of violence against journalists or attempt to limit their work with the argument that they only disseminate biased news.In addition, incidents have occurred in which State involvement is suspected, such as the theft of journalistic equipment and personal belongings from members of Nuestro Diario and the Guatevisión channel in July 2018.There were also defamation campaigns pursued in April 2018 against journalist Henry Bin of ConCriterio after one his investigations provided evidence of the relationship between the Minister of Social Communication of the Presidency, Alfredo Brito, and ‘netcenters’ that operate fake profiles to attack Morales’ critics.Officials close to Morales have also utilized their State resources to take action against journalists and weaken the work that has been done to ensure journalists’ security. Due to the criticism against her, in July 2018 Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel filed a criminal lawsuit against José Rubén Zamora, president of elPeriódico for alleged psychological violence against women.For his part, Minister of Government Enrique Dehengart has taken pains since the beginning of his term in 2018 to undermine the Instancia de Análisis de Ataques contra Defensores de Derechos Humanos [Office of Analysis of Attacks against Human Rights Defenders], a space in which attacks against journalists are discussed and justice sector authorities pressed to take action and ensure accountability.Changes in the Office of Public ProsecutorIn May 2018, Consuelo Porras took over from Thelma Aldana as the new Attorney General and Head of the Public Ministry.  Porras had been elected to the post one month prior by President Morales. The request made by APG to strengthen the office specializing in investigating crimes against journalists, which was reiterated by the Office of the Attorney General for Human Rights in October, received no response from the Attorney General or the other members of the institution’s Head Office.It is more concerning that Porras prohibited the Public Prosecutors for Crimes against Journalists and the Head of the Office of the Attorney General for Human Rights from participating in a presentation organized by APG in late November.Since the creation of the Special Unit for Crimes against Journalists in the Office of the Federal Prosecutor, this was the first time that its public prosecutors had been prohibited from participating in activities organized by the Journalist Observatory and APG; incidents such as this had not occurred, not even during the tumultuous period the country went through in 2015.RSF and APG lament the attitude of the Attorney General against the press organizations and hope her decision can be rectified in the coming months and that she will not avoid journalists’ demands.Recommendations to the next presidentFaced with the Guatemalan electoral campaign, RSF and APG urge the various presidential candidates to:Publicly commit themselves to respecting journalists’ and the media’s freedom of expression and avoid giving speeches that can exacerbate violence against the press.  We hope this commitment to the Guatemala press does not remain solely within the realm of political discourse but rather, becomes a priority for the next administration.RSF and APG urge the various political parties and civic committees that:During the electoral campaign they instruct their collaborators, candidates, political allies, or any other person with a relationship to these groups to respect the work of journalists and the news media in order to avoid such incidents as have occurred in past years.There should exist at the highest levels of these organizations a clear and firm stance rejecting any act committed by their members that can compromise reporters’ security or their free access to sources of information.RSF and APG additionally urge the next president to:Not arbitrarily employ public resources to produce official publicity to punish or favor certain news media due to their criticisms of or publications against the central government or politicians of the official party.  Official guidelines should not be used as blackmail in an attempt to modify the news media’s editorial line.Avoid confrontational discourse, public attacks, and defamation of the news media and journalists; on the contrary, publicly condemn any action that compromises journalists’ security or infringes on the right to freedom of expression, preventing any bad practices against the press as occurred during the Morales administration.The President should guarantee the implementation of the Journalist Protection Program, avoid the errors committed in the past, recognize the progress made in recent years, and respect the work performed by the Alliance of Press Entities in this initiative.Strengthen the capacity of security and justice institutions charged with ensuring journalists’ safety and the investigation of actions committed against them. It is not enough to increase the budget of these entities or their material resources but rather, the next administration must guarantee an increase in the staff of the Office of the Public Prosecutor and number of researchers in the Ministry of Government, ensuring their professionalism and job security as well as guaranteeing their independence in the face of any attempt to pressure them by political actors, economic powers, or higher authorities.On May 3, in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day, APG issued a report on the state of freedom of expression during the first quarter of 2019. News News RSF_en Red alert for green journalism – 10 environmental reporters killed in five years On June 16, Guatemalans will go to the polls to elect their new president. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Asociación de Periodistas de Guatemala (APG) express their concern regarding the hostile climate faced by the country’s press, and ask the next head of State to truly take responsibility for the protection of journalists, given that outgoing President Jimmy Morales will leave a disastrous balance with regard to freedom of the press. May 8, 2020 Find out more GuatemalaAmericas Condemning abusesMedia independence Freedom of expression Guatemala: 51 Signatories Call For Authorities To Drop Criminal Charges Against Indigenous Journalist Anastasia Mejía Receive email alerts May 29, 2019 Presidential Elections in Guatemala: What is the Future of Freedom of Expression? Jimmy Morales, presidente de Guatemala. Foto Johan Ordóñez (AFP). Organisation Help by sharing this information to go further Newslast_img read more

When Mortgage Fraud Hits Home

first_img Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago  Print This Post Foreclosures Fraud Mortgage Fraud 2019-10-21 Mike Albanese The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Tagged with: Foreclosures Fraud Mortgage Fraud Previous: Auction.com Appoints Mikhail Gaushkin as CMO Next: The Cost of Trade Wars on Housing About Author: Mike Albanese Share Save Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago in Daily Dose, Featured, Loss Mitigation, News Mike Albanese is a reporter for DS News and MReport. He is a University of Alabama graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in communications. He has worked for publications—both print and online—covering numerous beats. A Connecticut native, Albanese currently resides in Lewisville. When Mortgage Fraud Hits Home The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days agocenter_img Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Home / Daily Dose / When Mortgage Fraud Hits Home Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Sign up for DS News Daily Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago October 21, 2019 1,510 Views Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Related Articles A Sacramento grand jury charged three people connected to a mortgage fraud scheme that allegedly stole more than $7 million from homeowners facing foreclosure across the state, according to The Mercury-News.Steve Rogers, Robert Sedlar, and Audrey Gan, who allegedly operated a company called Grand View Financial, told homeowners that if they transferred their home and paid money to their company that Grand View would eliminate mortgage liens and transfer the home back to them. The Mercury-News reported that from 2019-2019 the company allegedly stole more than $7 million from homeowners in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, San Francisco, San Joaquin, Solano, Placer, Mendocino, El Dorado, San Diego, and Sacramento counties, according to a release from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The alleged have been charged by a grand jury with conspiracy, grand theft, elder abuse, filing false or forged documents in a public office, and other felony charges related to the charges. According to The Mercury-News, the arrests were the result of a joint investigation by Becerra’s office, the United States Office of Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the U.S. Trustee Program, U.S. Marshals Service and El Dorado County District Attorney. A report by CoreLogic from September found that mortgage application fraud risk decreased significantly in Q2 2019 from Q1 2019, according to the latest Mortgage Fraud Risk Index from CoreLogic. The Index fell from 152 to 132 quarter-over-quarter.According to the report, New York, Florida, and New Jersey remained the top states for fraud risk. The top five states for fraud risk increases were Idaho, Alabama, Mississippi, New York, and Delaware. According to Bridget Berg, Mortgage Fraud Solutions Principal at CoreLogic, the decrease in fraud risk may be temporary, based on unexpected interest rate drops and an influx of low-risk refinance transactions.“The absolute number of risky loans did not decrease but is part of a larger mortgage market for now,” Berg said. The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Subscribelast_img read more

Explainer: How the next WTO chief will be chosen and the task ahead

first_imgThe WTO is a members-driven organization with decisions reached by consensus among 164 countries. Three WTO ambassadors who chair leading committees will lead the process, seeking to establish which candidates have the widest support.In so-called “confessionals”, members will tell this “troika” their preferences, without ranking them and without vetoes in a process expected to last two months. The first phase will be on Sept 7-16. Voting on the next director-general is seen only as a last resort if consensus cannot be reached.The process does not always work smoothly. In 1999, former New Zealand prime minister Mike Moore and Thailand’s Supachai Panitchpakdi divided WTO members, with a compromise finally found to give each a term, shortened to three years from four.Azevedo’s term will finish before his replacement takes office, but WTO members failed to agree on a temporary caretaker director-general, meaning the four deputies will stay on in their current roles.More soft than hard powerThe Marrakesh Agreement that established the WTO in 1995 does not give a detailed description of the director-general role. The responsibilities should be “exclusively international in character”.The incoming chief would be expected to appoint four new deputies, present budget proposals, and chair the trade negotiations committee which oversees multilateral accords such as on fishing subsidies.The director-general can also intervene in trade disputes, in very rare cases offering mediation, more often by appointing people to adjudicating panels when parties cannot agree.Otherwise, the director-general does not forge global trade policy, but is meant to act as a neutral broker: part administrator, part peacemaker.  Eight candidates from Mexico to Moldova are bidding to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organization to replace Roberto Azevedo, who steps down at the end of August.ChallengesThe next chief would broker international trade talks in the face of widening US-China conflict, protectionism increased by the COVID-19 pandemic and pressure to reform trade rules. US President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies have upended the global trading order and presented an existential threat to the WTO. Trump has called the institution “broken” and “horrible”. Washington has blocked appointments to the WTO’s Appellate Body that settles trade disputes, which now no longer has the minimum number of judges to convene.How the director-general is chosenThe candidates have been given two months to campaign until September 7. Normally this would involve trips to national capitals, but with the pandemic much of that is being done in a virtual format.The next phase involves whittling down the field, initially to five then two, before a final decision is taken.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Everton’s Romelu Lukaku haunts former club West Brom

first_imgRomelu Lukaku inspired Everton to a stunning fightback at West Brom as the Toffees recovered from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Mori had enjoyed a untroubled half but imploded when he lost the ball near the halfway line after trying to run out of defence. It found Morrison and his excellent throughball for Berahino saw the striker slip in a low shot via Tim Howard’s leg. It was the striker’s second goal since returning to the starting line-up following his deadline day strike threat and underlined why the Baggies were so determined to keep him away from Tottenham. Buoyed, James McClean fired over immediately after the restart and Mori escaped a penalty shout after pushing over Salomon Rondon. Darren Fletcher then had a header turned needlessly wide by Howard after 54 minutes and Albion doubled their lead from the resulting corner. Phil Jagielka and Barkley got themselves in a mess trying to pick up Dawson and Jonny Evans which allowed Dawson to nod in Chris Brunt’s deep delivery. Instantly, though, Everton hit back when Lukaku headed Deulofeu’s cross past Boaz Myhill. With that the game turned even if Everton’s desperation was growing and James McCarthy was booked for an awful dive in the box with 20 minutes left. Yet Kone levelled four minutes later – and just three minutes after coming on. Again, Lukaku did brilliantly on the edge of the box to spot Kone’s run and threaded the ball through to the former Wigan forward, who was just onside, to drill past Myhill. The Baggies were shellshocked and former Chelsea striker Lukaku was not finished as he wrapped up Everton’s comeback with six minutes left. There was a hint of handball when he met Deulofeu’s cross by splitting Dawson and James Chester but with Myhill slow to react Lukaku smashed in from close range to win it. TWEET OF THE MATCH “@TonyBellew: Romelu Lukaku take a bow!! #EFC” – Boxer and Everton fan Tony Bellew was impressed with Lukaku’s performance. RATINGS West Brom: Boaz Myhill: 6 (out of 10) Craig Dawson: 7 Jonny Evans: 6 Jonas Olsson: 6 Chris Brunt: 6 Claudio Yacob: 6 James McClean: 6 James Morrison: 7 Darren Fletcher: 7 Saido Berahino: 7 Salomon Rondon: 6 Subs: James Chester: 6 Craig Gardner: 6 Rickie Lambert: 6 Everton: Tim Howard: 6 Tyias Browning: 7 Phil Jagielka: 6 Ramiro Funes Mori: 5 Brendan Galloway: 6 Gareth Barry: 6 James McCarthy: 6 Steven Naismith: 7 Ross Barkley: 6 Gerard Deulofeu: 8 Romelu Lukaku: 8 Subs: Darron Gibson: 6 Arouna Kone: 7 Aaron Lennon: 6 STAR MAN: Romelu Lukaku The striker inspired Everton to a comeback which few saw coming during a poor first 55 minutes at The Hawthorns. The visitors struggled to spark in the first half and looked dead and buried after Craig Dawson made it 2-0. But Lukaku, against his former loan club, showed his class to make it six goals for the season and rescue the visitors. His assist for Arouna Kone’s equaliser showed brilliant vision and he was deadly in front of goal when it mattered. MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Few could have predicted the late drama following a first half which lacked tempo until Saido Berahino’s opener. But Lukaku proved the difference between the sides when he slammed in the winner with just six minutes left, to complete Everton’s comeback. He had already produced a fine header to pull a goal back and then a cute pass to set up Kone’s equaliser on 75 minutes. West Brom will be disappointed at the nature of the goal, with Boaz Myhill perhaps too slow to react, but the Toffees will not care one bit. MOAN OF THE MATCH: Tony Pulis will be wondering how West Brom blew their 2-0 lead to leave them winless at home in the Barclays Premier League this season. The Baggies looked on course for a comfortable win after Berahino and Craig Dawson had put the hosts in charge. Albion’s usually reliable defence faltered under the threat of Lukaku in the second half, while previously they had kept 14 clean sheets in 24 league games. VIEW FROM THE BENCH: Roberto Martinez was staring defeat in the face when his Everton side fell 2-0 behind before their remarkable comeback. Kone scored just over three minutes after coming on as the Toffees changes made a late difference. But Martinez can rely on Lukaku to make the difference as the striker showed his manager what he is capable of. The Baggies had struggled for goals this season, scoring just four prior to this game, and Tony Pulis will be furious they squandered a comfortable lead. WHO’S UP NEXT Crystal Palace v West Brom (Premier League, Saturday October 3) Everton v Liverpool (Premier League, Sunday October 4) Everton manager Roberto Martinez told Sky Sports: “[We showed] incredible character to come back and get a win. “We had to show a lot of character, a lot of desire, to improve. The first-half performance wasn’t anywhere near our level. [But] we never gave up and we found a way to get back into it. “To score three goals in open play against West Brom speaks volumes of the quality of our play in the second half. “We’ve got a very good squad, we’ve got really good options. [Substitute and goalscorer] Arouna Kone brought a different problem straight away and we took advantage of that confusion.” His West Brom counterpart Tony Pulis added: “We get the second goal and all we have to do is sit tight and be nice and solid for 10 minutes and the game would settle down again. Unfortunately we then give a soft goal [away]. “I think the second goal is offside, I don’t know what the linesman’s doing stooping down and looking inside [Chris] Brunt. He should be stooping down and looking outside Brunt. I’d like to know what he was up to then. “The defending of set plays was awful. We were still celebrating. You have to take the sting out of the game and we didn’t do that. “It’s really, really disappointing because we had the game in our hands and we’ve given it to Everton.” The 22-year-old scored 17 goals during an impressive loan spell at Albion from Chelsea in 2012-13 and ignited Everton’s challenge with Kone’s impact also crucial, the forward scoring within three minutes of coming on as a second-half substitute. It was the first time Everton had come back to win a game in the Barclays Premier League since May 1994 – when they beat Wimbledon 3-2 to stay in the top flight. There was little hint of the drama to come, which left Albion winless at home in the Premier League this season, during a wretched and instantly forgettable first half which was only lit up by Berahino’s opener. Without the sidelined John Stones, out with a knee injury, Ramiro Funes Mori stepped in for his full league debut but the Everton defender was at fault for Albion’s first goal after a dull first 25 minutes. Only the visitors created a clear cut chance before the hosts struck when Ross Barkley blew his lines from eight yards after 29 minutes. The England midfielder started the move with a neat dummy before the ball was worked to Gerard Deulofeu on the right. His fine low pass dissected the Albion defence only for an on-rushing Barkley to wretchedly miscue his shot wide. It was a horrible miss and one which the Toffees would pay for when the Baggies opened the scoring four minutes before the break. Press Association The former Baggies striker scored twice and set up Arouna Kone as the visitors scored twice in the final 15 minutes to steal the points. Saido Berahino and Craig Dawson had put the Baggies 2-0 ahead but Lukaku hit back immediately after Dawson’s header nine minutes after the break. last_img read more