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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation Guatemala, An Overview Guatemala, a Central American country roughly the size of Ohio, has a population of approximately 9.5 million people. Although it is rich in natural resources, an estimated two-thirds of the arable land is owned or controlled by about two percent of the population. Per capita income in 1990 was estimated by the World Bank at $900 1 (Trends in Developing Economies 1991); however, ''the native American population—comprising more than half of population—lives in extreme poverty and at the margin of the money economy.''2 CIVILIAN GOVERNMENTS In the past 5 years Guatemala has held two free and democratic presidential elections, and authority has been transferred peacefully from one elected civilian to another for the first time in nearly four decades. Nevertheless, the armed forces continue to wield significant power, and civilian authority has not been fully established. When Guatemala returned to civilian rule and a democratically elected president in January 1986 under Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo, there were expec- 1 According to the World Bank's World Development Report 1992, per capita income for neighboring Nicaragua and Honduras is under $600, while that of El Salvador is slightly higher at $1,110, and those of Panama and Costa Rica are more than twice as high. 2 The World Bank, Trends in Developing Economies 1991 (Washington, D.C., 1991), p. 231.
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation tations that the military could be brought under civilian control and the violence and human rights abuses would be curtailed and perhaps ended. These expectations were not met. During President Cerezo's 5-year term, several thousand people were victims of disappearances or political killings. Human rights violations continued with impunity at a high level throughout Cerezo's term. In late 1990, a year widely perceived as the most violent under the Cerezo government, the congressionally appointed human rights ombudsman cautioned that the reported numbers of disappearances probably underestimate the problem, since they are based on press reports that do not always cover rural areas and on complaints registered at the ombudsman's office, where reports are limited by fear on the part of many Guatemalans of reporting violations to any government agency. The current president of Guatemala, Jorge Serrano Elías, took office in January 1991. During his election campaign and in his inaugural address, President Serrano expressed deep concerns about human rights abuses in Guatemala. He committed himself to bring Guatemala "total peace" and to reestablish full respect for human rights. According to government officials and others, some progress has been made in his presidency. For example, peace talks between government representatives and those of the guerrilla insurgency have slowly moved forward. (Negotiations between representatives of the Guatemalan government and the insurgency began in April 1991 in Mexico City. Progress has reportedly been slow, in part, because of the hard line taken by some members of the military. The New York Times recently reported that "the Guatemalan military, which still wields enormous influence over the elected Government of President Jorge Serrano Elías, has been reluctant to cede what it considers to be one of its most effective weapons [the civil defense patrols] against the insurgency."3) Although progress continues to be frustratingly slow, President Serrano announced on May 23, 1992, that he had accepted a new proposal designed to break a deadlock between the government and the guerrillas on the issue of human rights. In early August a partial agreement was reportedly reached; the Roman Catholic bishop mediating the negotiations, Monsignor Rodolfo Quezada Toruño, called it "a significant step" toward a cease-fire:4 Under the seven-point agreement, the government is to cease organizing and arming peasants to fight the rebels in the patrols "so long as there are no events that motivate it." The condition appeared to mean that the Army would be allowed to set up or arm new patrols in villages where the rebels began serious or persistent attacks. ... Since Guatemalan military Gov- 3 Tim Golden, "Guatemala Rivals in Rights Accord, Move Toward Ending One of Oldest and Most Violent Wars in Latin America," The New York Times, August 9, 1992, p. 7. 4 Ibid.
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation ernments developed the patrols more than a decade ago as part of a counterinsurgency strategy that earned the country opprobrium around the world, human rights monitors have criticized the units incessantly. Indian farmers in the country's highlands are forcibly recruited into the units as a matter of routine, the monitors have said, and the patrols have been blamed for killing civilians and other abuses. Other positive steps taken during Serrano's presidency that are often cited include the indictment of a former member of the military in the murder of Myrna Mack; the convictions (in a retrial on April 28, 1992) of four Guatemalan police officers for the murder of a 13-year-old street child; the sentencing of two soldiers to 30 years in prison for the killing of four Indians from Quiché; the conviction of a member of the civil patrols for the 1991 murder of a farm worker; the appointment of civilians to head the Ministry of the Interior and the National Police; and the implementation of crucial economic reforms and a subsequent drop in inflation from an annual rate of around 70 percent in 1990 to an expected rate of less than 8 percent in 1992. President Serrano has reportedly attached considerable importance to economic stabilization, clamping down on corruption, promoting bond sales, promulgating a property tax, and balancing the country's 1991 budget. The country's economy is, in fact, improving. According to a recent article in The Economist:5 GDP grew by 3.5% in 1991, and may grow by 4.2% this year. The public-sector deficit fell from 3.8% of GDP in 1990 to 1.7% last year. A law to increase tax collections has passed Congress. Foreign exchange reserves have risen from $275m in January 1991 to $850m ... and tariffs are being cut. Guatemala is a signatory of the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has ratified the U.N.'s International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It has also ratified the American Convention on Human Rights and the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture. Guatemala is a participating member of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Despite the ratification of these international human rights instruments and formal guarantees under the Guatemalan Constitution of the promotion and protection of human rights, however, there is a continuing pattern of abduction and murder of individuals who are seen as threats by the Guatemalan armed forces. Political killings have continued since President Serrano took office in January 1991. 5 "Central America, Out of the Ditch," The Economist, June 6, 1992, p. 19.
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE The Conflict The Guatemalan army has fought a guerrilla insurgency for more than 30 years—the longest and bloodiest war in the history of Central America. Approximately 150,000 people have reportedly been killed, and 40,000 have disappeared in the conflict; the majority have been Indian peoples.6 The Indians in Guatemala are Mayans, belonging to an estimated 18 to 28 linguistically distinct groups.7 Some 100,000 Guatemalans have been internally displaced during the past decade because of the political-military conflict. An additional 44,000 Guatemalan refugees have been living in camps in southern Mexico since they fled the violence of the early 1980s. According to the Guatemalan government, a voluntary repatriation program is now being established with the assistance of the U.N.'s Human Rights Commission. If the necessary conditions for voluntary repatriation and care are created (such as security, access to land, housing, and food), the Guatemalan government projects the return of 12,000 refugees from Mexico during 1992 and 30,000 during 1993. An April article in the Christian Science Monitor reported that "in the last three months, 775 [refugees] have relocated to Guatemala—more than twice the 1991 rate of return."8 In a 1981 publication, Amnesty International described the issue of political violence in Guatemala at that time as highly complex: 9 Its causes lie in a number of interrelated factors: the absence of a tradition of democratic government; a historically weak and ineffective judiciary; guerrilla insurgency; the counterinsurgency activities which were originally developed with the assistance of foreign military advisers in the 1960s; the inegalitarian distribution of wealth and income; and the "social violence" engendered by the economic situation and pattern of government since 1954 ... The majority of the documented abuses committed against the people of Guatemala are reliably reported to be perpetrated by members of the Guatemalan army and civil patrols or individuals involved with vigilante groups or "death squads" that are believed to have close ties with the military. 6 Procurador de los Derechos Humanos, Informe Circunstanciado de Actividades y de la Situación de los Derechos Humanos durante 1,991 (Guatemala City, Guatemala, 1992), p. 24. 7 Richard F. Nyrop, ed., Guatemala: A Country Study (Washington, D.C.: Foreign Area Studies, The American University, 1983), p. 52. 8 David Clark Scott, "Guatemalans Prepare To Go Home," Christian Science Monitor, April 16, 1992, p. 3. 9 'Disappearances,' A Workbook (New York: Amnesty International USA, 1981), pp. 17–18.
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation Such abuses (from the mid-1960s to the present) have included tens of thousands of documented political killings and involuntary disappearances. With regard to the situation today:10 In 1991 the military, civil patrols, and the police continued to commit a majority of the major human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and disappearances of, among others, human rights activists, unionists, indigenous people and street children. The motive behind many of the abuses appears to be the belief, whether factual or based on spurious information, that the victims were in some way supportive of or sympathetic to the guerrillas. The leftist guerrilla insurgency, which began in 1961 and is based mainly in the highlands of Guatemala, is also responsible for documented acts of violence against Civilians. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, these insurgents, made up of three rebel armies known collectively as the Guatemalan United Revolutionary Front (URNG), are believed to have been roughly 12,000 strong and to have controlled significant amounts of territory in the highlands in the northern part of the country. They are now believed to number only between 1,000 and 1,200 full-time fighters. Because the insurgents are reported to increase their activities during the weekends, there are also estimated to be a few thousand part-time guerrillas. Human Rights Watch recently reported:11 Leftist insurgents were apparently responsible for several political assassinations, particularly in the northeastern department of Petén. Most of these killings violate common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which prohibits attacks against persons taking no active part in hostilities. According to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1991, human rights abuses committed by the guerrillas include "killings of policemen and others, kidnapings, forced labor and recruitment, wide use of mines and other explosives, and the use of children in combat."12 All of the individuals with whom the delegation met recognized that the guerrillas have been quite successfully dismantled by the Guatemalan army, without much outside assistance, and that they can no longer take power—although they are still an annoyance to the army. According to a report on 10 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1991, Report submitted to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate by the Department of State, February 1992 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1992), p. 613. 11 Human Rights Watch World Report 1992 (New York: Human Rights Watch, December 1991), p. 235. 12 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1991, p. 613.
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation human rights by the Guatemalan Presidential Coordinating Commission on the Human Rights Policies (COPREDEH), which covers the first four months of 1992, there exists between URNG and the government of Guatemala a "will of the parties to reach an understanding," and progress in the negotiations continues, "even if at a very slow pace." In this same report, however, COPREDEH attributes the deaths of more than 40 Guatemalans in the first four months of 1992 to ''violent actions" by URNG. Universities, Professors, and Students Scores of students and academics have been killed or disappeared for political reasons, many after having received death threats. News broadcasts and paid advertisements in the Guatemalan newspapers regularly report death threats received by individuals and groups. The delegation learned that the frequently made death threats are carried out often enough to ensure that they must be taken very seriously. These threats, made by telephone, letter, and in person, add to the climate of intimidation, fear, and insecurity in the country and often lead threatened individuals and their families to flee the country. People who have received death threats have included scientists and science students, particularly those teaching and working in the social sciences. Obviously, such threats have an enormous psychological impact on those who receive them and on their colleagues and students. The loss to the institutions with which these individuals are affiliated and to the students whom they teach, particularly at the University of San Carlos, has been significant. These actions, along with bomb threats and explosions on the campus and other disruptions, have seriously interfered with the functioning of the university. The rector of the University of San Carlos, in his December 1991 discourse commemorating the 47th anniversary of "university autonomy," 13 spoke of the sad state of Guatemalan intellectual and university life, especially in the sciences:14 The political crisis reached its extremes in the decade of the 80s, when the regime mercilessly unleashed repression, annihilating any possibility of opposition, under the pretext of destroying the armed resistance. Many 13 "University autonomy" makes it illegal for security forces to invade the university campus. This provision has not always been respected. In any case, many abductions of university students and officials involve heavily armed agents or hirelings in civilian dress and unmarked but identifiable vehicles. 14 Alfonso Fuentes Soria, "Discurso del Rector de la Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala con Motivo del XLVII Aniversario de la Autonomía Universitaria" (Guatemala City, Guatemala, 1991). Translated by delegation member Mary Jane West-Eberhard.
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation Guatemalans from the general populace or institutions like the University of San Carlos were savagely silenced. In this manner a culture of fear and terror was instituted that still castrates the richness of university thought. . . . (p. 4) Guatemalan history has been characterized by the subjection of reason by force. Prominent university people in March and April of 1962, in the days of August 1989, or in any moment of current history, have had to offer their lives for Guatemalan liberty. Myrna Mack is the recent symbol of this brutal intolerance of ideas. (p. 12) As a consequence [of repressive brutality], the university became internally disarticulated from its academic work . . . In this vacuum university authorities seeking to keep in the good graces of the regime compromised in the designation of professors, and intellectual creativity and the teaching of science were rendered inane. In this manner was committed one of the greatest crimes against the nation, the amputation of the very limbs of the university that would have functioned to produce ideas and express culture. (p. 14) In this same discourse the rector cites an International Development Bank report (based on data of the Institute for Scientific Information) stating that from 1973 to 1984 Guatemala published only 19 papers per year in international scientific journals, at a time when the world scientific publication rate was 6,000–7,000 articles per day. Disappearances The 1992 Amnesty International Annual Report, which covers the period from January to December 1991, reports on 142 countries;15 disappearances in 1991 were reported to have taken place in Guatemala and 19 other countries; they involved at least 1,270 people in all 20 countries. 16 The December 30, 1991, report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights notes:17 Most incidents [in Guatemala] involving enforced or involuntary disappearances or other violations were reported to have taken place without witnesses; where witnesses existed, fear of reprisals led them not to report what they had seen, so that reliable evidence was very difficult to obtain. It was further pointed out that family members and human rights bodies which wanted disappearances and other violations to be followed up closely 15 Amnesty International Report 1992 (New York: Amnesty International USA, 1992). 16 Amnesty International, "Annual Report Summary 1992," p. 2. 17 Commission on Human Rights, Economic and Social Council, United Nations, Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (United Nations, December 30, 1991), p. 37, paragraph 159.
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation had to do it by themselves, with all the risks that this entailed, as the legal machinery did not grant them the necessary protection. This same report shows that from 1978 through 1990 the Working Group referred 3,119 cases of presumed detentions and disappearances to the Guatemalan government. Of these cases, 30 are alleged to have occurred in 1991; 2,994 cases were still pending as of December 1991.18 A few words should be said about the term "disappearance" because it is used frequently throughout this report. "Disappearance" is discussed in an Amnesty International publication, 'Disappearances,' a Workbook, which notes that "the term 'disappearances' was first used (as 'desaparecido' in Spanish) to describe a particular government practice applied on a massive scale in Guatemala after 1966, in Chile since late 1973, and in Argentina after March 1976.''19 Reliable sources estimate that 39 per cent of all disappearances in Latin America have taken place in Guatemala. The Amnesty International workbook also reminds readers: Many prisoners who have "disappeared" may well, at worst, have ceased to be. None, however, is lost or vanished. Living or dead, each is in a very real place as a result of a real series of decisions taken and implemented by real people. 'Someone' does know and, more importantly, is responsible. In an effort to obtain justice for the families of the disappeared, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has begun a program to train Guatemalans to identify those buried in unmarked graves. According to a recent article in Science, a AAAS team will sponsor a technical training workshop to teach a Guatemalan forensic team, including:20 . . . judges, members of human rights groups, and representatives of governmental bodies how corpses can yield clues about the way they died—and, in the cases of murder, who killed them. They will show them how to determine the cause and manner of death—and how to use that forensic evidence in a way that will stand up in court. The article points out that, in Guatemala today,21 . . . forensic doctors are only required to determine the cause of death and not the manner, such as whether the death was a homicide or an accident. That determination has traditionally been made by judges, who lack forensic training. 18 Ibid., p. 39, paragraph 165. 19 Estimated disappearances in Argentina number more than 9,000; in Chile 2,279 are reported to have died from torture or execution or have disappeared. 20 Ann Gibbons, "Scientists Search for 'The Disappeared' in Guatemala," Science, July 24, 1992, p. 479. 21 Ibid.
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation The Myrna Mack Case One of the best known recent cases of political murder in Guatemala is that of Myrna Elizabeth Mack Chang, an eminent 40-year-old anthropologist. Mack was stabbed repeatedly on September 11, 1990, just after she left her office in Guatemala City, during what is believed to have been an extensive struggle with two or more men. Myrna Mack was a founding member of the Association for the Advancement of the Social Sciences in Guatemala (AVANCSO); she was also a consultant to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and had academic ties with several universities in the United States, including Georgetown University and the University of California at Berkeley. At the time of her murder Mack had been doing research and writing on the plight of internally displaced persons in Guatemala. She was murdered two days after a report for which she was principal researcher, Assistance and Control: Policies Toward Internally Displaced Populations in Guatemala, was published in English by Georgetown University Press. 22 (The report was originally published in Spanish in early 1990.) Prophetically, the introduction to the report states: From the start, this study was designed as an exploratory endeavor, given the absence of systematic research by Guatemalan researchers on the internally displaced. Moreover, due to the politically sensitive nature of the topic and its connection to human rights issues, it was not at all certain the research could be carried out. The Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala, which provides the Mack family with legal counsel, provided the committees with much of their information on the Mack case. Additional information was obtained directly from the office's October 1991 report on her murder.23 The chief of the Homicide Division in the Criminal Investigation Department of the National Police, 36-year-old José Miguel Mérida Escobar, who investigated the case, was himself murdered on August 5, 1991, in front of his family. He was scheduled to give testimony before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States. Mérida's September 29, 1990, report of his investigation provided evidence that the Mack case was politically motivated, implicated military 22 Association for the Advancement of the Social Sciences, Guatemala, Assistance and Control: Policies Toward Internally Displaced Populations in Guatemala (Washington, D.C.: Center for Immigration Policy and Refugee Assistance, Georgetown University, 1990). 23 Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala, "Myrna Elizabeth Mack Chang (40), Guatemalan Anthropologist Murdered on September 11, 1990," October 1991.
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation intelligence officers, and identified as a suspect in the murder a former soldier in the intelligence branch of the Presidential High Command, Noel de Jesús Beteta Alvarez. An arrest warrant was issued for Beteta in July 1991. He had left the country, but local police apprehended him in Los Angeles, California, and deported him from the United States on December 3, 1991, to face the murder charges in Guatemala City. A number of police witnesses also implicated Beteta in what have been reported to be gang-related crimes, including the February 1989 murder of Otto Leonel Castro and the aggravated assault of José David Godiñez. According to the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala, Godiñez is permanently paralyzed as a result of the attack, but he has refused to provide testimony against Beteta. Lacking critical evidence, charges in the Godiñez case have not been brought by the courts. Beteta was charged with the February 1990 shooting of Herber Emilio Ramirez Cifuentes. The courts overseeing the Ramirez case issued, but apparently did not enforce, an arrest warrant for Beteta in early 1990, well before the murder of Myrna Mack. Ramirez, who is now 15 years old, has recovered from his wounds and testified against Beteta regarding the February 1990 attack, despite alleged bribe offers to withdraw his accusations against Beteta. The courts have thus formally charged Beteta with the assault against Ramirez and consolidated the case with the prosecution of Beteta for the Mack assassination. The Mack murder case has attracted considerable press attention in Guatemala and in countries around the world. It has become well known, both nationally and internationally, for a number of reasons. Myrna Mack's family, which is prominent, well-to-do, and esteemed, has set an historical precedent by unrelentingly demanding justice, despite potential repercussions to themselves. Myrna Mack's friends and scientific colleagues, in an unprecedented effort, have tirelessly and courageously pressured the Guatemalan government to pursue the case. Because Myrna Mack was known and respected outside Guatemala, her murder became widely known and publicized; it has been the subject of repeated inquiries and appeals by dozens of organizations, including the Committee on Human Rights.24 The case has gained a profile, thus placing considerable pressure on the Guatemalan government to resolve it. In addition, recent efforts to establish competent and credible police and judicial systems are credited with helping to move the case forward, though at a frustratingly slow pace. 24 Mack's murder was the subject of an urgent action request to CHR correspondents early in 1991 and resulted in numerous pleas that those responsible for her murder be found and prosecuted.
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation THE COMMITTEES' WORK IN GUATEMALA Violations of human rights directed against Guatemalan scientists, engineers, and health professionals have been a long-standing concern of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Human Rights (CHR) and the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Health and Human Rights (CHHR). This section briefly summarizes some of the committees' efforts concerning cases in Guatemala, beginning in the early 1980s. Most of the cases undertaken by the CHR and the CHHR are those of disappeared colleagues who are never heard from again. Since the early 1980s the CHR has made dozens of inquiries of the Guatemalan authorities in behalf of disappeared individuals whose whereabouts remain unknown (see Appendix B). (Of the estimated 40,000 people who have been the victims of forced disappearances in Guatemala since the mid-1960s, most have never been seen again. In some cases their dead bodies—bearing signs of torture or mutilation—are found a few days later; in a few rare cases, abducted individuals have reappeared.) It has been the experience of the committees that if reliable sources can be established within countries in which abductions occur, and those sources are able to communicate the facts of a disappearance immediately to the committees, a prompt and widespread outcry can occur, and there is hope that it may save the life of the disappeared person. For example, on June 24, 1982, a Guatemalan pediatrician and anthropologist, Dr. Juan José Hurtado Vega, disappeared. He was abducted by four armed men wearing civilian clothes in front of his pediatrics clinic in Guatemala City. The CHR immediately sent telegrams to the Guatemalan authorities and urged its members to write appeals in Dr. Hurtado's behalf. Subsequently, the Institute of Medicine joined with five other scientific groups to sponsor a delegation to Guatemala in Dr. Hurtado's behalf. Dr. Hurtado, a professor at the Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala and secretary of the university's medical facility, had set up and run a rural health clinic in a small Indian village. On July 4, 10 days after Hurtado's disappearance, the then president of Guatemala, Efraín Ríos Montt, acknowledged the arrest of Hurtado and said he was a prisoner of the government. After being held virtually incommunicado for more than a month, Dr. Hurtado was released on July 29 to the International Red Cross. On August 4, 1982, Dr. Hurtado and his wife left Guatemala and joined their son, a student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In a letter to NAS president Frank Press, the then ambassador of Guatemala to the United States, Jorge L. Zelaya, reported on Dr. Hurtado's release: ''After conducting an investigation, my Government established that there were clear indications of Dr. Hurtado's participation in the subversive
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation movement, but that no conclusive evidence was found to sustain the charges that prompted his detention." The committee also sent appeals by telegram to the Guatemalan authorities in behalf of a 70-year-old pediatrician, Dr. Gustavo Castañada Palacios, who was a friend and colleague of Dr. Hurtado. Dr. Castañada was arrested on October 28, 1982; he Was released 5 days later. The Embassy of Guatemala in Washington, in a statement made several weeks later (on November 17), said that it had transmitted to the proper authorities in Guatemala the concern expressed to the embassy over Dr. Castañada's situation. The statement said that Dr. Castañada "was investigated on charges of being in possession of illegal weapons and subversive literature; the investigation was conducted in accordance with Guatemalan laws. Dr. Castañada was found innocent of the charges brought against him." In addition to these two successfully resolved cases, the CHR has expressed its concern to the Guatemalan authorities about more than 30 other cases since the mid-1970s of disappeared or murdered scientists, engineers, health professionals, and students of these professions. (A list of these colleagues and others can be found in Appendix B.) A more recent case involved that of Dr. Carmen Angélica Valenzuela, a well-known pediatrician. She was abducted on February 10, 1990, in Guatemala City, in front of many witnesses, by six men armed with submachine guns. Dr. Valenzuela was professor of pediatrics at the University of San Carlos, president of the Association of Women Physicians, and department head at Escuintla Hospital. She also was involved in the organization of women's self-help programs and of the Disabled Olympic Games. The CHR learned of her abduction almost immediately and sent appeals to the Guatemalan government. A writ of habeas corpus was filed in her behalf, and she was released after 8 days. In this case as well, it is believed that a prompt local and international outcry may have helped bring about Valenzuela's release. The Guatemalan ambassador to the United States at the time, John Schwank, formally notified the committee of Dr. Valenzuela's release in a statement sent to the CHR chair, Eliot Stellar, on February 20, 1990: "According to official information, Dr. Valenzuela was unable to identify the individuals involved in her kidnapping; however, government authorities continue their efforts to investigate the case and bring those responsible to justice." The statement, which made reference to the government having received "numerous expressions of concern from personal friends of Dr. Valenzuela, as well as from the international human rights groups," went on to say: "In Guatemala, her abduction has been a source of great distress and repudiation from all sectors of society, particularly from the medical community." In May 1991 Dr. Valenzuela attended the CHR's biannual meeting,
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation expressed appreciation for its efforts, and described her ordeal. She reported that she had been held in a clandestine "jail" for several days, where she was "physically and psychologically tortured." She left Guatemala after her release, and she does not intend to return because of fear of continued persecution. She also expressed concern about the safety of her friends and relatives in Guatemala who might suffer repercussions because of her decision to discuss her ordeal. Dr. Valenzuela's abduction has apparently not yet led to any serious effort by the Guatemalan authorities to find her abductors and bring them to trial, despite expressed intentions of doing so. VISIT TO GUATEMALA, JUNE 1991 In June 1991, at the invitation of the Higher Council of Central American Universities and the University of San Carlos of Guatemala, three observers for the CHR attended the opening ceremonies of a major educational campaign on human rights being launched in Guatemala by the university. The conference, entitled "The State and the Teaching of Human Rights," was held June 12–14, 1991, at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala City. The observers were Mary Jane West-Eberhard, Anthony E. Siegman, and Jay Davenport. In addition to the University of San Carlos and the Higher Council of Central American Universities, the conference was sponsored by the Ministry of Public Affairs, the office of the attorney general, and the office of the ombudsman for human rights. Government sponsorship and participation sought to underline the government's commitment to the conference's objective to promote greater human rights protection in Guatemala by means of a countrywide human rights education program. The main purpose of the conference was to encourage human rights teaching in social sciences curricula in Guatemala. Guatemalan primary and secondary schools and universities do not include teaching and discussion of human rights as a part of general education in civics and government. The leaders of the University of San Carlos are seeking to remedy this and to encourage the incorporation of human rights education as a core element for all students. The conference particularly aimed to sensitize faculty members of the university to the importance of teaching human rights in the schools. It also sought to educate and gain the support of government officials for the human rights education initiative. Conference participants, who numbered about 150, included university faculty members and staff, officials from the Ministry of Public Affairs and attorney general's office, staff members from the office of the ombudsman for human rights, as well as representatives from various universities in Central America and Mexico. President Serrano addressed the opening session, as did Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica and winner of the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize.
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Scientists and Human Rights in Guatemala: Report of a Delegation Other conference speakers included the attorney general, the minister of public affairs, a Supreme Court judge, the ombudsman for human rights, and the director of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States. President Serrano called for greater human rights progress in Guatemala. He recalled students killed during demonstrations and said he never wanted to see such things happen again. He referred directly to the need to have justice applied and to have an end to crimes with impunity. "We are tired of violence," he said, a viewpoint that seems to reverberate throughout Guatemala. Oscar Arias, in the keynote address, emphasized that education in human rights should extend not only to the school system but to the armed forces, a suggestion for which he received enthusiastic applause. In addition to the CHR, two other non-Central American groups were invited to send observers—the office of the ombudsman for human rights of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the World University Service, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland. While in Guatemala, the observers met with Alfonso Fuentes Soria, the rector of the University of San Carlos; Jorge Morales González, the dean of engineering; and Edgar Francisco Rivera, the director of the Office of Research (the office under whose auspices the human rights program was being organized). They also met with the U.S. ambassador, Thomas F. Stroock, who has been outspokenly critical of human rights abuses in Guatemala. In addition, they had private, informal conversations with others who attended the conference. Given the history of repression of academics in Guatemala, the CHR considered the inauguration of a human rights program to be an advance for human rights and an occasion for a show of support by the international scientific community. In addition to giving encouragement to the academic community by attending the conference, the delegates were also able to learn more about the problems in Guatemala and the feasibility and potential usefulness of a mission of inquiry.
Representative terms from entire chapter: