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UA 434/90 - Guatemala: possible extrajudicial execution / threat of extrajudicial execution: Byron Barrera Ortiz, Refugio Araceli Villanueva de Barrera (his wife), and one other (name unknown)

, Index number: AMR 34/066/1990

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 34/66/90
Distr: UA/SC
28 October 1990
UA 434/90 Possible Extrajudicial Execution/
Threat of Extrajudicial Execution
Refugio Araceli Villanueva de BARRERA, aged 39
and one other (name unknown)
Byron Barrera Ortiz, a journalist, together with his wife, Refugio Araceli
Villanueva de Barrera, and a friend who remains unidentified were shot by two
men on a motorcycle on Friday 26 October, as their car stopped at a traffic
light at the corner of the 35th street and the Calzada Aguilar Batres in Zone
11 of Guatemala City. Refugio Villanueva de Barreras was instantly killed;
her husband and their friend were injured, and had to be treated in hospital.
Byron Barrera Ortiz, a father of two, had returned to Guatemala in 1985 after
several years in exile. He is the director of the Agencia Centroamericana de
Noticias (ACEN-SIAG) Central American News Agency, and the vice-president of
the Guatemalan Journalists Association. Until June 1988, he had been the editor
of the magazine La Epoca, whose officers were fire bombed by men believed to
be members of the security forces. After the attack on La Epoca, Byron Barrera
left the country for several months.
In an interview from his hospital bed, Byron Barrera said that on Thursday
25 October he became aware that he was being followed by the same men who shot
him, and that he had informed the Secretary of Public Relations of the Presidency
of Guatemala about the incident, and gave her the number plates of the motorbike
in which the men were travelling. Byron Barrera had fixed an appointment to
see the Public Relations Secretary on 30 October 1990.
Amnesty International has been gravely concerned at what appears to be a serious
deterioration in the human rights situation in Guatemala in the months prior
to the general elections scheduled for 11 November. Victims have included trade
unionists, grass roots organizations, human rights workers, journalists,
students, peasants, displaced persons, and members of religious and opposition
groups. In recent months at least nine politicians have been killed and many
others have received threats or been harassed. On 15 October Humberto González
Gamarra, a 42-year-old journalist and owner of several radio stations, and
secretary general of the Unión Revolucionaria Democrática (URD), Democratic
Revolutionary Union, and Miguel Angel Cospín, aged 70, a founder member of
the Guatemalan Journalists' Association, were killed in two separate attacks.
Although the identity of the perpetrators of the abuses has not been established,
the choice of victim, the manner in which the abuses were carried out, and
the weapons used in many cases indicated that official security forces were
involved, acting in the guise of the so-called "death squads". Amnesty
International has also been concerned at the failure of the government to
vigorously investigate human rights abuses, and fears that this failure has
been a contributing factor in the escalating violence.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters:
- expressing concern at the killing of Refugio Villanueva de Barrera and
the wounding of Byron Barrera Ortiz and their friend in circumstances suggesting
the possible involvement of the security forces;
- urging that full impartial investigations be opened into the incident, that
their findings be made public and that those responsible be brought to justice;
- seeking guarantees that the physical integrity of Byron Barrera Ortiz, and
his friend, and the security of other members of the Guatemalan Journalists
Association be protected.
S.E. Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo
Presidente de la República de Guatemala
Palacio Nacional
Guatemala, Guatemala
Tel: +502 22 1212 or 2266
Fax: +502 253 7472
Telex: 5331 CAPRES GU
Telegrams: Presidente Cerezo, Guatemala, Guatemala
Gen. Carlos Augusto Morales Villatoro
Ministro de Gobernación
Despacho Ministerial
Oficina No. 8, Primer Nivel
Palacio Nacional
Guatemala, Guatemala
Tel: +502 2 21212/19, ext 400, +502 2 518105/6
Fax: +502 2 518105
Telex: 5005 MINGOB GU
Telegrams: Ministro gobernacion, Guatemala, Guatemala
Brig. Gral. Juan Leonel Bolaños
Ministro de Defensa
Ministerio de Defensa
Palacio Nacional
Guatemala, Guatemala
Tel: +502 22 1212, ext 2226
Fax: +502 253 7472
Telex: 5361 COMGUA GU
Telegrams: Ministro Defensa Bolanos, Guatemala, Guatemala
Lic. Ramiro de León Carpio
Procurador de Derechos Humanos
Avenida Simeón Cañas 10-61
Zona 2,
Guatemala, Guatemala
Telegrams: Procurador Derechos Humanos, Zona 2, Guatemala,
Col. Julio Caballeros Seigné
Director General de la Policía Nacional
6 Avenida 13-71
Zona 1, Guatemala
Tel: +502 2 20221, +502 2 515158
Telegrams: Director Policia, Guatemala, Guatemala
Sra.Claudia Arenas Bianchi
Secretaria de Relaciones Públicas de la Presidencia
Palacio Nacional
Guatemala, Guatemala
Tel: +502 2 26014
Fax: +502 2 537472
Telex: 5325 RELPUB GU
Telegrams: Secretaria Relaciones Publicas, Guatemala,
Asociación de Periodistas de Guatemala
14 Calle 3-29,
Zona 1, Guatemala,
Guatemala (Association of Journalitst)
Lic. Mario Roberto Yllescas Aguirre
Procurador General de la Nación
Procuraduría General de la Nación
7a Avenida 7-78
Edificio Centroamericano
Zona 4, Guatemala
Diario "La Hora"
9a Calle "A" 1-56
Zona 1, Guatemala,
and to diplomatic representatives of Guatemala in your country.
International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending
appeals after 15 December 1990.

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