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Guatemala: Fear for safety: Carlos Federico Reyes Lopez and his family

, Index number: AMR 34/021/1996

AI is deeply concerned for the safety of the above, a 26-year-old anthropologist, member of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Team, and his family, following death threats against them. He has already been threatened twice by unidentified armed men.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 34/21/96
UA 173/96 Fear for safety 8 July 1996
GUATEMALACarlos Federico Reyes López, aged 26, anthropologist
and his family
Amnesty International is deeply concerned for the safety of Carlos Federico
Reyes López, member of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Team, Equipo
Guatemalteco de Antropología Forense, and his family, following death threats
against them.
On 12 June, an unidentified man sat next to Carlos Federico Reyes López while
he was waiting on a bus in Guatemala City. The man held a gun to the
anthropologist's ribs and told him that he ought to "stop being [working] with
those friends, because it's dangerous and you ought to think about it..." "que
dejara de estar con esos amigos, porque era peligroso y que lo pensara". The
assailant pushed the gun into Carlos Federico Reyes López's ribs again and
quickly got off the bus.
One week later, on 19 June, Carlos Federico Reyes López was surrounded by four
unknown men in Zone 1 of Guatemala City. One of the men pushed the barrel of
a gun into the anthropologist's back and told him, "we already know where you
live, you have got one month to change your job because it's dangerous... Oh
and of course your father is very ill" "ya sabemos donde vivís, tenés un mes
para cambiar de trabajo porque es peligroso... Por cierto tu papá está muy
enfermo". One of the assailants then told him that he would not like it if
something happened to his father or the two young girls who live in the same
Carlos Federico Reyes López still feels very vulnerable and unsafe because
although he reported these incidents to the appropriate government authorities,
no one has yet been arrested in connection with the crimes.
Death threats against Federico Reyes come at a time when important developments
are taking place regarding the identification of those responsible for the
massacre of thousands of Guatemalans during counterinsurgency operations
conducted by the armed forces in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In March 1996, just a few months before these death threats, Carlos Federico
Reyes López participated in the exhumation of a clandestine cemetery containing
the remains of 19 victims, including at least six children, killed during a
massacre in the village of Los Josefinos, municipality of La Libertad, in the
northern department of El Petén on 29 April 1982. Reportedly at least 50 people
died in the Los Josefinos massacre, which was allegedly carried out by members
of the Guatemalan armed forces. The team of anthropologists, at the request
of the Association of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Guatemala,
Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos y Desaparecidos de Guatemala (FAMDEGUA),
collected important and substantial evidence for use in future investigations
into the massacre.
Amnesty International has documented repeated death threats against those
involved in exhumations in Guatemala (see AMR 34/24/95). There are allegedly
over 100 clandestine cemeteries in Guatemala where thousands of non-combatant
civilians are believed to be buried. The majority of them are indigenous peasants
who were killed or "disappeared" during counterinsurgency operations in the
late 1970s and early 1980s. None of those responsible for the gross human rights
violations committed at this time have been brought to justice.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Spanish or English or your own language:
- expressing concern at the threats against Carlos Federico Reyes López and
his family members, and urging the authorities to take immediate steps to
guarantee their safety;
- urging the authorities to initiate investigations into the threats against
Carlos Federico Reyes López and to ensure that the findings are made public
and that those responsible are brought to justice;
- requesting to be kept informed of what measures the government intends to
take to protect those at risk because of their involvement in the exhumation
of clandestine cemeteries;
- urging the Guatemalan government to ensure the implementation of Principle
15 of the United Nations Principles on the Effective Prevention and
Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions stating that,
"Complainants, witnesses, those conducting the investigations and their
families shall be protected from violence, threats of violence or any other
form of intimidation".
1) President of the Republic
S.E. Alvaro Arzú Irigoyen
Presidente de la República de Guatemala
Palacio Nacional, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Faxes: +502 287 4537
Telegrams:Presidente, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Salutation:Sr. Presidente/Dear President
2) Minister of Interior
Excmo. Sr.Rodolfo Mendoza
Ministro de Gobernación, Ministerio de Gobernación
Palacio Nacional, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Faxes: + 502 251 5368
Telegrams: Ministro de Gobernación, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Salutation: Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
3) Minister of Defence
Gral. Julio Arnoldo Balconi Turcios
Ministro de Defensa, Ministerio de Defensa
Palacio Nacional, Guatemala,GUATEMALA
Telegrams: Ministro de Defensa, Guatemala, Guatemala
Faxes: +502 2 609909 (if voice, ask "me puede dar tono de fax, por favor")
Salutation: Sr. Ministro / Dear Minister
Attorney General
Hector Hugo Pérez Aguilar
Fiscal General de la Nación, Ministerio Público
18 Calle 10-36 Zona 1, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Telefax: + 502 2 317 066
Human Rights Procurator
Lic. Jorge García Laguardia
Procurador de los Derechos Humanos
12 Avenida 12-72, Zona 1, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Faxes: +502 2 81734
Equipo de Antropologia Forense de Guatemala
3a. Calle 3-18, Apto.B, Edificio Packard, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, CP 01001, GUATEMALA
Commander of El Petén
Col. Guillermo Leopoldo Pimentel Recinos
Comandante de la Zona Militar No 23
Santa Elena de la Cruz, Flores, Petén, GUATEMALA
Tel: + 502 9 500364 / 500493
and to diplomatic representatives of Guatemala accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 30 August 1996.

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