EXTERNAL (for general distribution)AI Index: AMR 34/86/93
UA 436/93 Fear for Safety16 December 1993
GUATEMALA Mario POLANCO
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Mario Polanco, a member of the Grupo de Apoyo
Mutuo por el Aparecimiento con Vida de Nuestros Familiares (GAM), Mutual Support Group for the
Appearance of Our Relatives Alive, following his abduction by five heavily armed men wearing military
boots, in Guatemala City on 10 December 1993.
According to reports, Mario Polanco was taken to an uninhabited place in zone 15 of the capital. He was
held for two hours during which time he was tied up and severely beaten with fists, guns and a wooden
bat, kicked in the face, back and ribs, and his head smashed repeatedly against the ground, whilst being
interrogated about his activities with GAM. His abductors reportedly told him that they were not pleased
with his work, but that they would not kill him, only teach him a lesson. His abductors then left him, tied up
and bleeding. He later managed to get to a hospital, where he received medical treatment, including
stitches to his ear which had been ripped. Witnesses to the abduction, which took place not far from the
GAM offices, were apparently threatened with death if they did not keep silent.
GAM has reported the incident to the police, but there are fears that Mario Polanco's life is still in danger.
Mario Polanco had been participating on that day in a peaceful march organised by various groups,
including GAM, in order to commemorate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
to protest at the recent accord between Congress and the Executive (which agreed inter alia to reform
Guatemala's Constitution) and at the lack of government funding for housing, health and education.
Marchers were also calling for the disbanding of the Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil (PAC), Civil Defence
Patrols and for an end to forced military recruitment. The march ended at the Palacio Nacional, National
Palace, where speeches were made by some of the participants, including Mario Polanco.
Members of GAM have been object of human rights violations on many occasions in the past. Most
recently, on 27 October 1993 armed men reportedly invaded the GAM offices, beat a female member of
GAM in the office at the time and confiscated all their records and equipment (see follow-up on UA
379/93, AMR 34/77/93, 29 October 1993; UA 379/93, AMR 34/76/93, 27 October 1993). Over the years
since the group was formed in 1984, GAM members have repeatedly been subjected to threats, their
offices have suffered grenade and bomb attacks and some leaders and members have been killed in
circumstances suggesting they were actually extrajudicially executed. Recently, flyers distributed for
several days' running in Guatemala City in the name of a hitherto unknown group calling itself the
Movimiento Indígena Revolucionario, Indigenous Revolutionary Movement, denounced Nineth
Montenegro, GAM's president, and other prominent Guatemalans as corrupt and involved with drug
trafficking. Often in the past, such allegations have preceded attacks against the persons so accused.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Spanish, English or in your own language:
- expressing concern about the reported abduction and ill-treatment of Mario Polanco;
- asking for guarantees for the security of Mario Polanco;
- urging for a full investigation into this incident, that the findings be made public and the perpetrators
brought to justice;
- urging protection for other members of GAM, including its President Nineth Montenegro, who has