leader of the university's Association of Agronomy Students of Western Guatemala. At the time of his abduction, he was working for the General Office of Agricultural Services (DIGESA), a government agency in Escuintla. His family reportedly filed a writ of habeas corpus in his behalf.

Mr. Alvarado was reportedly beaten and abducted by armed men in plain clothes in front of witnesses on October 17, 1987, as he was driving his motorcycle between Quetzaltenango and Totonicapan. He was taken away in a Corinth pick-up truck. His stabbed body was reportedly found on October 23, 1987, on the Pacific Highway in the department of Suchitepéquez, by an agronomist and regional director of Sector 4 of DIGESA.

AI reports that after the killings of Mr. Alvarado and fellow agronomist René Haroldo Leiva Cayax, whose body was found on the same day as Mr. Alvarado's and whose name also appears on this list, the Guatemalan press stated that the entire Quetzaltenango police force was transferred elsewhere. Because the police force was no longer in the area, it was extremely difficult for independent groups to investigate the crimes.

The then minister of the interior, Lic. Juan Rodil, reportedly announced in December 1987 that the chief of police of Quetzaltenango at the time of the murders and five of his police agents had been arrested for the crimes. It was not possible to ascertain where they were being held, but Lic. Rodil said that further information would be made public after the initial 15 days of judicial inquiry. According to AI, further information was never made available, and AI was not able to verify whether the police officers were in fact in detention.

Staff of the office of the ombudsman for human rights told an AI delegation in 1988 that ''the death of those agronomists was political although the government has said that it was not.'' They also said that following the men's abductions, a police car stained with blood was found. AI reports that a former high-level official in the National Police told AI's 1988 delegation that the arrested police officers were not responsible for the killings. The official said that police intelligence officers had told him that the agronomists' deaths were ordered by the army. AI also reports that one of the people who witnessed Mr. Alvarado's abduction testified that, at his wake, she recognized a known army informant and the two men who had abducted him.

According to the office of the ombudsman for human rights, the perpetrators of the Alvarado murder were policemen. They were tried, convicted, and sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment. However, the sentences were appealed in 1990, and the policemen were released.

AI reports that agronomy students as well as staff and graduates of USAC have been targeted by the security forces because "the [USAC] School of Agronomy has frequently been critical of government land policies and has been involved in attempts to organize peasants."

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement