Update: June 20th 2016 Guatemalan mayor indicted for expelling Jewish sect.
Update: August 26th 2014
Translation of the notice: PDH sigue caso de comunidad judía en San Juan La Laguna. By Procurador de los Derechos Humanos | Noticias Destacadas | Martes, 26 Agosto 2014.
PDH [Human Rights Ombudsman] follows up the case of the Jewish community in San Juan La Laguna. Featured News | Tuesday 26 August 2014.
The Office of the Ombudsman considered the intention to expel members of a Jewish community established in San Juan La Laguna, Sololá, as a violation of human rights said Giovanni Guzmán, of the institution's Mediation Office in an interview on 25 August.
In this regard, Guzmán indicated that the Office of the Ombudsman considered it of utmost importance that both parties discuss and reach an agreement. Referring to the allegations that both groups made, he said that the settlers of San Juan La Laguna indicated that it is not the religion of the Jewish community, but their night worship, which they claim disturbs their rest. The Jews complaints revolve around feelings of exclusion.In this regard, the official said that something very positive had emerged as a result of their intervention and that was the decision of the Council of Elders of the region referred to above, not to expel the community.
As a follow-up and to continue the process of dialogue on the subject, a meeting of the two parties will be held on Wednesday on the premises of the Ombudsman of Human Rights, which also houses local authorities of San Juan La Laguna.
Update: August 22nd 2014
Translation of the document: Acerca del intento de expulsión de la comunidad judía de San Juan La Laguna, Sololá. Comunicado 22 Agosto | Procurador de Los Derechos Humanos.
About the intention to expel the Jewish community of San Juan La Laguna, Sololá. Communication. August 22nd, 2014. Ombudsman of Human Rights.
1. The Director General of Migration of the Ministry of Governance is the sole competent authority, in accordance with the Migration Act, with expertise about issues related to the expulsion of foreign nationals from the territory national territory, and that after legal procedures have been exhausted and just cause proven, makes decisions about their expulsion.2. Pursuant to the above, no person, authority, group or community has the right or is authorized to:a) Fix a period for foreign groups or people for departure out of any area of the national territory.
b) Under no justification, whether religious, politics, ethics or morality, may any person usurp the right to make threats and expel foreigners from the Guatemalan territory or decide on their displacement.3. The series of acts carried out by the authorities and residents of San Juan La Laguna, Sololá, constitute a violation of several liberties and human rights of the Jewish community settled in the municipality. They lack the legal powers to decide on the displacement of individuals and groups.4. As part of the State, municipal authorities in Guatemala have an obligation to respect, guarantee and protect human rights.5. However, in this town, the local authority illegally and arbitrarily set a deadline for the expulsion of the Jewish community. It expired and they intend to now expel them from the Municipality indicated.
6. This series of acts constitute discriminatory acts and a violation of a series of fundamental rights and freedoms, such as:
a) The freedom which all the people in this country must enjoy, to choose where to set up residence.
b) The right to live without anything or anyone harming them or threatening to cause them injury. This is the right to indemnity, i.e. to live free of violence.
c) The right to equality and non-discrimination.
d) The right to freedom of worship and to public expression of their religious practices.
7. By virtue of the foregoing, the Ombudsman for Human Rights calls to:
a) Local authorities to comply with the legal mandate to respect, guarantee and protect the freedoms and fundamental rights of all human beings living in that municipality.
b) The population to keep calm, not be manipulated by local authorities and practice tolerance; to effect the return to that harmony and respect that should prevail in people of good will living in San Juan La Laguna.
8. It is contrary to the principle of equality and non-discrimination to encourage and execute acts against the freedoms and fundamental rights of minorities and the peace that is desired by all the people who inhabit this country.
Update: August 22nd 2014
Translation of the article:
ACTUALIZACIÓN: Condenan expulsión de judíos en San Juan La Laguna. Por Redacción La Hora | La Hora | ago 22, 2014.
UPDATE: Condemnation of expulsion of Jews in San Juan La Laguna.The Ombudsman for Human Rights, Jorge Duque de León, disagreed this morning with the expulsion of at least 100 Jewish families residing in San Juan La Laguna, Atitlan.Es ilegal y violatoria de DDHH expulsión de personas en San Juan la Laguna. Nada lo justifica.
— Jorge De León Duque (@JDeLeonDuque) August 22, 2014
In his Twitter account, JdeLeonDuque, Ombudsman said the expulsion of the Jews is an action which is "illegal and a violation" against human rights and has no justification.While Maria Trinidad Gutierrez, Commissioner of the Commission on Discrimination and Racism (CODISRA), condemned the incident and said that this is a clear example of discrimination.Yesterday, the Council of Elders of San Juan La Laguna, decided to expel the families belonging to the Jewish community, claiming that their customs threaten the living conditions of the community and set a bad example to them.
Translation of the article, Consejo de San Juan La Laguna expulsa a comunidad judía, Por ÁNGEL JULAJUJ | Prensa Libre | 21/08/14.
Council of San Juan La Laguna expels Jewish community.
The Council of Elders of San Juan La Laguna, Sololá, decided on Thursday to expel from the municipality about 70 families from the Jewish community, Toiras Jesed.By ÁNGEL JULAJUJ | Prensa Libre | 21/08/14
SOLOLÁ - The Council of Elders of San Juan La Laguna determined that the presence of the members of the community who over three months had made a series of accusations against the region, were a risk to the population.
Residents said that the organization Toiras Jesed had settled in the town for eight years.
The deadline to leave the place is tomorrow Friday [August 22nd 2014].
The decision to expel the Jews was taken by 75 members of the Council who represent the 20 indigenous communities of San Juan La Laguna.
In early August, the Jews complained that harassment against them had increased recently, as well as actions to force them to leave.
"In recent weeks, some people went to the owners of the houses rented to us, to ask that water and electricity be cut," said Misael Santos, a Guatemalan convert to Judaism.
Verbal and physical attacks against 32 people who profess Judaism began in October last year, when six families moved to live in San Juan La Laguna, and they reported that because of their clothing they began to be the object of teasing, insults and aggressions.
"We wanted a clean, quiet, peaceful and welcoming town for our children to grow up," said Santos, last May. However, for the last six months they have been subjected to verbal abuse and racist insults that have worsened in recent days, and they have come to blows, by villagers demanding them to leave, even though they do not infringe any law.
The situation is exacerbated because the municipality asked for a list of people who profess Judaism, on the pretext that they want to keep track of visitors; although they do not request the same of other tourists. Santos fears the situation is taking a dangerous turn towards irrational antisemitism driven by some residents.
Update: August 3rd 2014
Translation of the article, Judíos denuncian acoso de alcalde, Por A. Sas | Prensa Libre | 03/08/14
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Jews denounce Mayor's harassment.
The Jewish religious community residing in San Juan La Laguna, Sololá, reported that in the last days there has been increased harassment against them, as well as actions to force them to leave.
By A. Sas | Prensa Libre | 03/08/14.
"In recent weeks, some people went to the owners of the houses rented to us to ask that water and electricity be cut," said Misael Santos, a Guatemalan convert to Judaism and the first to move to that community.
Verbal and physical attacks against 32 people who profess Judaism began in October last year, when six families moved to live in San Juan La Laguna, and they reported that because of their clothing they began to be the object of teasing, insults and aggressions
Another of those affected, who asked that his identity not be revealed, reported that the mayor of the town, Rodolfo Perez, has organized meetings with different groups in the municipality, to convince them to expel them from the place, based solely on prejudice towards their beliefs.
When contacted by telephone, the chief councilor explained, in "my town there is no Jewish community" and said he was not available to provide more information on this issue.
Continuing from my previous post, recent reports have revealed that there was in fact no amicable resolution as was reported in an earlier Prensa Libre article, between some of the residents of San Juan La Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala, and the local Jewish community The tide of anti-Jewish sentiment which possessed a certain group in the town led to attacks against the community which escalated from the verbal to the physical. Because of the unrest, this Jewish community that had lived there peacefully for the past six years was given a month and a half to leave.
The Counter-Terrorism Foundation filed a suit against the Mayor of San Juan La Laguna, Sololá, for inciting the population to threaten several Jewish families who live in that place.
Prensa Libre | 27/05/14
GUATEMALA city - Roberto López López, Chief Councillor of the municipality mentioned, is identified as instigating the community to do damage to Jews living in San Juan La Laguna, since six years ago.
The suit was submitted to Criminal Judicial Management Agency.
The crimes of which Lopez Lopez is charged are incitement to genocide, abuse of authority, threats, usurpation of authority, rulings in violation of the Constitution.
Misael Santos, a Guatemalan convert to Judaism, said last week that they have been subjected to verbal abuse and racist insults by a group of residents demanding that they leave the place.
With information from Hugo Alvarado. SOURCE
In addition to the Prensa Libre article below about the situation, there is a very informative post on The Accidental Talmudist - Salvador Litvak's Facebook account. Among the comments are those which suggest that Lev Tahor's presence in the area is somehow responsible for the troubles which have befallen this community. However, according to Misael Santos of the local Jewish community, these assaults started six months ago and we know that Lev Tahor arrived in Guatemala in early March, less than three months ago. In addition, Salvador Litvak's informant, a Guatemalan Jew living near San Juan - M.t. Levi Greer Walker, has stated that Lev Tahor is not connected. According to Levi Greer, there are different Jewish communities scattered around the towns in that area and Lev Tahor is in Panajachel at the other end of the lake. This group is in San Juan and they are associated with Toiras Jesed. According to the informant, their members have done absolutely nothing to deserve the persecution to which they are now being subjected. See Salvador Litvak's page on this topic for more information and many comments by readers. The Prensa Libre article follows with my apologies for any errors in translation:
By LUIS ÁNGEL SAS | Prensa Libre | 25/05/14
Misael Santos is a Guatemalan, converted to Judaism because his grandmother was Jewish, although the rest of his family is Catholic. He is leader of a community of thirty-two people, some in the process of accepting this religion, living in San Juan La Laguna, Sololá for six years.
Photos are the property of Prensa Libre.Misael Santos is Guatemalan and considers that he has the right to freely live his faith.
"We were looking for a clean, quiet, peaceful and friendly people so that our children could grow." Santos explains. However, for approximately six months they are subject to verbal abuse and racist insults, that have worsened in recent days since they have come to blows, by a group of settlers that demand that they leave, despite the fact that they do not infringe any law.
The situation is exacerbated because the municipality asked for a list of people who profess Judaism, under the pretext that want to keep a record of all visitors; although they do not do this with other tourists. Santos fears that the situation is taking a dangerous turn towards irrational anti-Semitism, driven by some residents.
How did you arrive at the town?
We arrived six years ago. We lived in zone 1 in the capital, but we wanted a quiet place to live and develop.
On arrival we didn't have much money and we started to sell rellenitos [stuffed, fried mashed plantain balls], paches [tamales], dobladas [stuffed tortillas]. So we arrived at San Pedro La Laguna, where sometimes there were Israeli tourists who were asking, "Where is the synagogue?" As there wasn't one, I said to them. "Come to my house." This is how Jews began coming to San Juan.
When did the problems begin?
Some seven months ago, visitors came to celebrate the Jewish New Year here. A Mexican family remained for five months. There were just two families, and a gentleman from the village began to show his discomfort with us. We were not many, only two families, but he wanted us to leave.
Why did you decide to stay?
Yes, we were looking for a quiet place, and San Juan is. People say that we are Jews, but it is necessary to clarify that in my case, I'm still in the process of conversion to Judaism, although some are from birth.
In any case, being Jewish is nothing bad because it is like when a Christian pastor comes to establish a church, or a Jehovah's Witness passes teaching his doctrine. We do not make a fuss or do things contrary to the law of Guatemala, we only exercise our freedom of worship. We do no wrong to anyone.
Why do you think that there is opposition to your presence?
Lack of information. I put myself in their place and maybe they are justified in feeling fear because before we were two families and now there are ten. And seeing us with our traditional dress, which is black, out of devotion and humility, in the streets, perhaps causes fear. But I think that someone is orchestrating this. Because photocopied leaflets containing misinformation were put under doors.
Even, on one website, photos of Hitler were uploaded and they were saying that they were putting us in cremation ovens. They asked that we leave town because they said we kidnap children, and they ignited more antipathy by saying that the town was going to be invaded by Jews. This was done so that a certain group of the population would be incensed. But we are people of peace.
When did the violence begin...
Fifteen days ago, three friends were at an internet provider and others went to buy phone top-ups. A group of youths arrived and pursued them to the other side of the town. Those who were in the cafe were shoved and they threw stones at them. We arrive, ask them why they did that.
Included among the aggressors was a policeman in plain clothes. Then we call the Policia Nacional Civil and everyone left. This caused unrest and fear. Some of us wanted us to leave that night because we have heard of places where people lynch others. The following day I saw racist comments on a website and totally anti-Semitic photos, saying very ugly things.
What happened after the attack?
There was nothing positive to be felt in the environment. The people with their expressions, and the drivers of the Tuc-tucs threw words when they passed.
One day, my wife was walking with a friend, and two children of less than ten years told them: "Go to hell, Jews!" [Polite translation] After that night they started to throw stones at the houses that we rent; they broke windows. Here, nearby, they threw an explosive device. The situation began to worsen.
They also discovered that many of us have not had dogs and that we are afraid of them. So now they release the dogs at certain friends. They say to them,"Sic 'em!" and such things. Also we are walking and some Tuc-tuc drivers begin to bark like dogs. It is a harassment, as they are doing so because we are Jews, including shouting at us, "You killed Jesus!" And it is clear that it is not so. In addition, they have placed signs outside the houses where we live and the municipality has asked us for a list of all the Jews living in San Juan. This is discrimination.
Why did they ask for a list?
We were not told. They claim that it concerns tourism, but they do not ask for the list of other tourists. We agreed to give the list, although I consulted with lawyers and they told us that it was not legal if there has been no request from a judge. We are thirty-two people and there are thirteen foreigners; the rest are Guatemalans.
Do you see persecution against you?
I don't know. There is disapproval of our presence here. They talk about our clothing, but the parish priest dresses similar to us. They say that we want to take away their culture and steal their heritage, but we do not walk door to door trying to convince the people to join us. We have not purchased any land here to cause them to say that.
Have you looked for support?
Yes, with human rights organizations. Some members also made complaints against those who assaulted them and it was the same people that called us names, because not all the people want us to go; it is only a group. I wrote a letter asking for an urgent meeting with the Mayor of San Juan and the community development councils, to talk about the aggression and request security. In that meeting a lady presented 300 alleged signatures, asking that we leave the town.
How do you feel about them asking you to leave?
Sad, because this is our home for six years. My children grew up here, with several children of the town.
Are you going to give in to the pressure?
Many people do not want us to go, they have come to ask us not to go. The parents of the friends of my children, for example. They are Christian people who live their values. The problem is that there has already been aggression and I would like the Mayor to do something. There is a saying that goes: "Who dirties must clean.", and it will have to be those young people who invented things and made those posters, to repair the damage. But if there is no solution, we will leave. There are even some who say jokingly that San Juan Bautista, the patron saint of the town, is Jewish, and if we leave here we should take him because he is also Jewish.
"A month and a half to go."
The Mayor of San Juan La Laguna, Rodolfo López, said that he gave the community of Jews living in the municipality a month and a half to leave the town, because that was the time they said they would be. "The population is waiting for a month and a half so that they withdraw from the municipality. It is the town's decision. The Mayor is only the arbiter." said Perez, who did not respond concerning the racist attacks suffered by members of the Jewish community.
"We want to know if they are legally registered in the country and also to ask for protection of human rights." Lopez explained about the listing requested of those persons, without clarifying the reason for intolerance towards that religious community.
He added that he cannot say if there had been attacks on the Jews or not. He said, "Anyone can report what he wishes and it is not my role to determine whether it is true or not."
He added that he cannot forbid anyone to visit the village, once you are in accordance with the laws of the country. But he said that if there are Guatemalans who invite foreigners to come to the country they should "explain the customs of Guatemala".
"When something is bought at the store, they ask that it be put on the table or on the floor. They must comply with the customs of the people in San Juan. If I go to the United States I must adopt what the gringo does." explained Lopez.
In a month another meeting will be held to analyse the situation of the Jewish community. SOURCE
There is a lot more to this story and for reasons unknown, the authorities who do have the resources to investigate what exactly has instigated these developments have chosen thus far not to do so. Although it is a natural gut reaction to be repulsed by the actions of some of the residents of this town, in my opinion, the greater culpability is owned by those whose duty it was to keep the peace, to get to the bottom of the unrest and to arrive at some understanding between all parties. This hostility did not spring suddenly and fully grown out of thin air.
One of the most reassuring sentiments emanating from Salvador Litvak's Facebook post and readers' comments on this topic is the need for solidarity, for ordinary people to be on guard for each other. The workers of iniquity are busy and if we betray each other for their benefit, we are lost. The Irish proverb says it best - “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”
Readers' comments to date on this article.
xq las personas no dejan vivir a cada quien como le plazca, que ejemplo estamos dando a nuestros hijos a no aceptar a las personas... lo mismo que hicieron con Jesus estan haciendo
10:21hs | 25.05.2014 |
NO SOY JUDIA, PERO SI DEFENSORA DEL QUE NO RESPETE A OTRO, ESTE MERENGE NO ES DE RELIGIÓN-SINO DE PRODUCIR, DESARROLLAR, HASTA LA COCA COLA QUE TE TOMAS CON TU CUBA LIBRE, LA INVENTARON LOS JUDIOS DE ESO HABLAMOS ,REVUELVEN EL CEBO CON LA MANTECA, , YO RESPETO A MI GENTE, SE VISTAN O CAMINEN DE CABEZA .EL QUE QUIERA HABLAR DE RELIGIÓN VAYASE A OTROS PAIS ,TODOS TIENEN LIBERTAD DE CULTO.
13:27hs | 25.05.2014 |
estos indigenas se viven quejando de racismo y ellos no son due;os de guatemala todo lo quieren resolver con linchamiento, viven reclamando mil derechos en el congreso y se comportan como animales con otras personas
15:17hs | 25.05.2014 |
The Indians live complaining of racism all the time feel due; you Guatemala and if something does not like to Lynch, people insivilizada seem to animals
Lo que van a conseguir estos i.diotas ignorantes que todavía viven con una mentalidad de la era del oscurantismo, es que Israel nos mande por un tubo y ya quiero ver qué van a hacer estos imbéciles de San Juan cuando toda la gente que recibe ayuda del Pueblo de Israel, deje de recibirla y entonces se tiren contra ellos. Van a probar de su propia medicina.
17:57hs | 25.05.2014 |
Déjame decirte que por Los Judíos Tenemos las escrituras, tenemos la salvación que fue a través de Jesús dirigida al pueblo Judío, Recuerda tus principios: SALMO 72:18 De lo contrario pasara esto: GÉNESIS 12:3 (la promesa fue a Israel)
19:34hs | 25.05.2014 |
PARTE 2 …Pero, esto nada tiene que ver en relación a Religión, máxime en un país que proclama tener LIBERTAD de culto. Mucho se habla de la Guatemala Multicultural … multiculturalismo (..utópico por supuesto..), donde existe equidad y respeto mutuo, lo cual crea un ambiente donde todos crecemos y juntos convertimos de éste un mejor país. --- Es lamentable que los propios Chapines nos resignemos a ser un país de linchamientos.
20:39hs | 25.05.2014 |
PROCURADOR DE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS, ONU, IMPORTANTE PONER ATENCIÓN , ESTE ALCALDE, QUE NO SIRVE PARA GUIAR UN PUEBLO. DICE QUE LE HACE DE ARBITRO?. EL PUEBLO NO MANDA NADA, SINO LA LEY, Y EL ALCALDE TAMBIEN SE PUEDE QUITAR SINO CUMPLE EN BASE A LA LEY, QUE TRAIGA EL CASO A LA PROCURADURIA DE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS. O ES QUE EL LE QUE PAGO LA PUBLICIDAD AL ALCALDE LO PIDE? JODIDOS LOS MAYAS? Y LOS DE IZQUIERDA LUCHANDO POR ELLOS. LA EXCLUSION ES VENGANZA
22:32hs | 25.05.2014 |
12:44hs | 26.05.2014 |
zehariah benlos judios son el pueblo de Di-s el pueblo escogido que hoy esta en todo el mundo para dar luz a las naciones pero las naciones no aceptan la luz pero al final todos quedaran con la boca cerrada cuando vean lo que El Di-s de Israel va hacer con las naciones is cap 2
21:32hs | 26.05.2014 |
Abraham goldEl turismo y la diversidad cultural son bienes que traen capital y progreso. Los Judios han contribuido enormemente en donde van. La religion Judia no busca convertir la gente como lo hace el cristianismo asi que el miedo al cambio no tiene fundamentos. Primero es bueno el progreso segundo nadie esta forzando a cambiar a otros.
08:18hs | 27.05.2014 |