By Amy Montes / Diálogo November 19, 2019 A Guatemalan Army patrol drove to El Estor, Izabal department, in the first week of September in pursuit of an aircraft loaded with drugs. Upon arriving at the landing site with information provided by the defense radar, the service members were intercepted by drug traffickers who took them to a school, killed three units, and injured three others.“These murders highlight the risk to freedom, justice, security, and development. They put institutional order, governability, and state security at risk,” said Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales as he issued a stage of siege to restore order in 22 municipalities in the departments of Izabal, Petén, Zacapa, El Progreso, Baja Verapaz, and Alta Verapaz.Guatemalan Minister of National Defense Luis Miguel Ralda Moreno told the press the measure would last 30 days. According to the country’s Law of Public Order, in the event the stability of social and government institutions are in danger, the president can decree a state of siege and assume military authority through the Defense Ministry with powers to restrict freedom of action, movement, demonstration, and the carrying of weapons. The President can also detain one or more residents without the need for a court order.From transit to producerAuthorities disable one of 16 clandestine airstrips found during the state of siege in September. (Photo: Guatemalan Ministry of National Defense)A month after the measure was implemented, in addition to restoring the law and apprehending common criminals, operations revealed that Guatemala was no longer a transit point for drugs, but that it had become a drug-producing country.During the interventions, authorities seized drug labs with almost one ton of cocaine worth $14 million ready to be sold. They also destroyed 23 crops with about 1.5 million coca plants and disabled 16 clandestine airstrips, the Ministry told the press.“One of the causes of this change [from transit to producing country] is the reduced costs and risks in the transit of illegal substances from South America to Guatemala, and from here to Mexico and the United Sates,” said Ralda. This motivated organized crime to use communities with little government presence to install a model of illicit cultivation and infrastructure to produce cocaine on their land, the minister said.Prolonged stage of siegeThe results of September led the Guatemalan government, through Congress, to ratify on October 10, the state of siege for another 30 days in the 22 controlled municipalities.Ralda emphasized that this new term would allow them to detect more drug labs and plantations, and generate trust among residents to encourage them to report suspicious activities. “These measures allow security forces with room to act within the legal framework, but above all to establish respect for human rights,” he concluded.
June 1, 2005 Regular News Briefs Briefs AFTER NEARLY 40 YEARS, Florida A&M once again bestowed law degrees when the university held its recent commencement. The last class of the FAMU College of Law graduated in 1968 after the state failed to provide funding for the then-accredited school in 1966. The state reestablished the historically black university’s law school in 2002, and the first students of the inaugural class received their degrees at a ceremony at the university’s main campus in Tallahassee. The graduates also were recognized at a hooding ceremony in Orlando, where the law school is located. Fifty-five students from the law school received their degrees. “The law school’s participation in this year’s graduation ceremony is not only of great historic significance to this university, but it is of even greater symbolic significance,” said Carlos Woody, president of the Student Bar Association. “As a member of the ‘second inaugural class,’ being able to participate in the graduation on the main campus will represent a continuation of a rich legacy that began some 56 years ago.” Robert J. Grey, Jr., president of the ABA, was the keynote speaker for the event: “Society has to reflect the texture, the culture, the diversity of its people in the most critical profession to the safeguarding of liberty that we have.”SECOND CIRCUIT JUDGE TOM BATEMAN addresses the jury pool in a special ceremony in the Leon County Commission Chambers last month as part of Juror Appreciation Month in Florida. Chief Justice Barbara J. Pariente was also on hand, along with other Leon County public officials, to thank the jurors for their service and announce a new program giving free bus transportation to those who serve as jurors in Tallahassee’s Leon County Courthouse. Pariente said this cooperative effort between courts and other local government offices is an example that can be followed throughout Florida and will encourage people to show up for jury duty. Florida consistently has ranked behind the national average in the percentage of people who respond to jury summonses. “The real thanks for this new service,” said Pariente, “goes to Tallahassee Mayor John Marks and County Commission Chair Cliff Thaell. They listened to me after I became aware that local jurors were having to drive, find parking, and then walk to the courthouse. And they found one solution that makes everyone a winner, even as they are looking at other ways to make jury duty easier.” The Ninth Circuit has a similar transportation service for jurors. Since 2002 people summoned to appear for jury duty at the Orange County Courthouse can ride free on the LYNX bus. “My hope is that courts and local governments throughout Florida will see examples like these and will work together to help our jurors fulfill their duty,” Pariente said.THE GEORGE EDGCOMB BAR ASSOCIATIONrecently held its annual scholarship banquet. The GEBA has provided more than $100,000 over the years to African American students to pursue college educations. Pictured from the left are Lanse Scriven, president-elect of the Hillsborough County Bar; Bill Schifino, Jr., president, Hillsborough County Bar; former U.S. Rep. Rev. Walter Fauntroy; Bar President Kelly Overstreet Johnson; Benjamin Crump, president of the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association; Barbra J. Pittman, president-elect of the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter of the NBA; Clinton Paris, president of the George Edgecomb Bar Association; F. Kemi Oguntebi, the banquet’s co-chair; and Monica J. Williams, first vice president of the George Edgcomb Bar Association.U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE Anthony Kennedy attended the U.S. 11th Circuit’s recent judicial conference in Hollywood. Pictured from the left are U.S. Southern District of Florida Judge Pat Seitz, a former president of The Florida Bar; current Bar President Kelly Overstreet Johnson, Justice Kennedy; Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Pariente; and Eileen Lynskey Parsons, chair of the Bar’s Federal Practice Committee.BAR PRESIDENT KELLY OVERSTREET JOHNSON was the keynote speaker for a Law Day event in Ft. Lauderdale presented by B’nai B’rith Justice Unit 5207, the Caribbean Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Association of Broward County, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, the T.J. Reddick Bar Association, and the Attorneys Division and Community Relations Committee of the United Jewish Community of Broward County. Prior to the program, a judicial reception honored Broward Judge Martin Dishowitz. The event also included a memorial presentation to the family of Henry Latimer. Pictured from the left are Franklin Zemel; Jesse Diner, 17th Circuit Board of Governors member; Cynthia Guerra, president of the Broward Hispanic Bar; and Johnson.IN RECOGNITION OF Juror Appreciation Month, Palm Beach County officials made a presentation to its jurors along with comments from Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Pariente. Pictured from the left are Palm Beach County Bar Association President Stanley D. Klett, Jr.; 15th Circuit Public Defender Carey Haughwout; 15th Circuit Chief Judge Edward Fine; Chief Justice Barbara Pariente; West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel; Clerk & Comptroller for Palm Beach County Sharon Bock; Palm Beach County Commission Chair Tony Masilotti and 15th Circuit State Attorney Barry Krischer. The Palm Beach County Bar sponsored a free cup of coffee and bagel for jurors for the week of May 2 with contributions from its Young Lawyers Section; the Hispanic Bar Association; the Cunningham Bar Association and the Palm Beach County Trial Lawyers Association.