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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.