EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 34/45/93
UA 218/93 Fear for Safety 5 July 1993
GUATEMALA: Elizabeth RECINOS ALVAREZ DE LEON (female), trade union leader
Eluvia DE SALAM (female), trade union leader
Amnesty International believes that the lives of Elizabeth Recinos Alvárez de León
and Eluvia de Salam may still be in danger following their abduction on 17 June 1993
and subsequent release. Elizabeth Recinos Alvárez de León and Eluvia de Salam are
believed to be in hiding and there are serious concerns for their safety.
According to reports, the two women were abducted in Guatemala City, the capital,
by unidentified men who immediately blindfolded them. The two women were reportedly
bundled into separate cars which were dark blue or black with smoked glass windows.
Eluvia de Salam was released on 18 June, but the whereabouts of Elizabeth Recinos
remained unknown until 23 June when she was found unconscious outside the house of
Eluvia de Salam.
According to the testimony of Elizabeth Recinos, she was driven for some three to
four hours and taken to a small room where she was drugged. She was then beaten and
kicked repeatedly and told "Sing me the song. I want you to tell me who are the corrupt
ones". (This is believed to be a reference to widespread allegations by grassroots
organizations in the aftermath of Guatemala's recent attempted `autogolpe'
(self-imposed or self-initiated coup) that many prominent officials and congress
people are deeply involved in corruption). After her release she was taken to the
police hospital where it was found that she had two broken ribs. She was then taken
to the San Vicente hospital where she remained for several days.
Before the release of Elizabeth Recinos a habeas corpus petition was filed on her
behalf and the Secretary of the Presidency, Hector Luna Trocolli, apparently promised
to take steps to establish her whereabouts.
Elizabeth Recinos is a leader of the Sindicato del Hospital San Vicente, Union of
San Vicente Hospital, and a member of the Asamblea Nacional de Trabajadores de Salud
Pública (ANTSP), National Assembly of Public Health Workers. Eluvia de Salam is a
leader of the Sindicato de Bienestar Social, Social Welfare Union, and a member of
the Federación Nacional de Sindicatos de Trabajadores de Guatemala (FENASTEG),
National Federation of Guatemalan Union Workers. Both women were active in the
demonstrations that took place following the autogolpe of ex-President Serrano on
25 May 1993. On 6 June 1993 the two women were reportedly followed by two men in
civilian clothing after attending the inauguration of President de León Carpio.
On 6 June 1993 Ramiro de León Carpio, previously the Human Rights Procurator, was
voted president by Congress, following his near unanimous selection by Congress to
serve out the remaining term of President Jorge Serrano Elías. Ex-president Serrano
had been forced from office after trying to seize near-dictatorial powers on 25 May