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UA 86/94 - Guatemala: death threats / fear for safety: Nineth Montenegro, Byron Morales, Nery Barrios, Armando Sanchez, Perci Mendez, Ernesto Bol, Carlos Enrique Lobos and Adolfo Hector Ortiz Barrera

, N° d'index: AMR 34/012/1994

There have been reports that the first seven people listed above have been threatened with death if they do not leave Guatemala within 48 hours. The eighth has suffered a recent grenade attack on his home. The threats were reportedly made in a letter delivered on 2 March to the offices of the Unidad de Accion Sindical y Popular (UASP), Unity of Trade Union and Popular Action, in Coban, Alta Vera Paz. The letter was allegedly signed in the name of the death squad, "Jaguar Justiciero" or "J.J.". These latest threats have come as workers have carried out a series of strikes, occupations and demonstrations in Guatemala City to press their demands for wage settlements in line with a salary scale which they say was agreed with the government in July 1992.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 34/12/94
Distr: UA/SC
UA 86/94 Death threats\Fear for safety
4 March 1994
GUATEMALA Nineth Montenegro (Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo)
Byron Morales (Unión Sindical de Trabajadores de
Guatemala)
Nery Barrios (Unión de Trabajadores de
Quetzaltenango)
Armando Sánchez (Federación de Trabajadores del
Estado)
Perci Méndez (Coordinadora de Trabajadores
Municipales)
Ernesto Bol (Trade unionist from Cobán, Alta
Verapaz
Carlos Enrique Lobos (also a trade unionist from
Cobán)
and Adolfo Héctor Ortiz Barrera (journalist)
Amnesty International has received reports that the first seven people listed
above have been threatened with death if they do not leave Guatemala within
48 hours. The eighth has suffered a recent grenade attack on his home.
The threats were reportedly made in a letter delivered on 2 March, to the offices
of the Unidad de Acción Sindical y Popular (UASP), Unity of Trade Union and
Popular Action in Cobán, Alta Vera Paz. The letter is said to have been dated
26 February, and signed in the name of the "Jaguar Justiciero" or "J. J." This
"death squad" first announced itself in February 1989, when it carried out
a series of bombings and issued death threats against a number of student
leaders. (see UA 67/89 AMR 34/04/89). Shortly after the issue of the J. J.'s
1989 death list, armed men attempted to break into the home of one of the
threatened students, but fled after neighbours were aroused by the noise.
Many of those on this new J. J. list have suffered threats and abuses on a
number of occasions in the past (see UA 358/93 AMR 34/70/93). See UA 39/92
AMR 34/07/92 regarding previous threats against Armando Sánchez; and AMR
34/28/91 on previous harassment and short-term imprisonment suffered by Nery
Barrios.
These latest threats have come as workers, particularly state workers
represented by the Government Workers Union (UITE), Instancia Unitaria de
Trabajadores) and the Federación Nacional de Sindicatos de Trabajadores del
Estado (FENASTEG) have carried out a series of strikes, work stoppages,
occupations and demonstrations in Guatemala City to press their demands for
wage increases, payment in accordance with a salary scale which they say was
agreed with the government in July 1992, and suspension of current government
plans for privatization of public services. In response, the government has
initiated legal proceedings against workers for withdrawal of their services.
There have also been a series of anonymous threats reported against workers,
including those named in the latest J. J. death list. Recently, another
threatened UITE trade unionist reportedly went into exile, in fear of his life.
Recent threats and attacks on journalists have also been reported. Adolfo Héctor
Barrera Ortiz, director of the Acen-Siag press agency, and his family suffered
a grenade attack against their home in mid-February, carried out by men driving
a vehicle with smoked glass windows. Héctor Barrera is the brother of Byron
2
Barrera, a journalist and former director of Acen-Siag, who has suffered a
number of attacks in the past, including an armed assault by armed civilians
in 1990 during which his wife was killed (see UA 434/90 AMR 366/90).
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Trade unionists, student leaders, journalists, and those working with
non-governmental organizations, particularly those attempting to investigate
and protect human rights have been long-term targets of abuses in Guatemala,
including harassment, torture, "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions.
Such abuses have sometimes been preceded by anonymous death threats, such as
those issued in this instance.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Spanish, English or your own language:
-expressing concern at the threats contained in the "Jaguar Justiciero" message
delivered to UASP's Cobán offices on 2 March, and at the attack in mid-February
against the home of journalist Adolfo Héctor Barrera Ortiz:
-urging the government to take immediate measures to protect the safety of
all those named in the "Jaguar Justiciero" communication and of Héctor Barrera;
-asking for an immediate investigation into these recent death threats and
into the attack on Héctor Barrera's home.
APPEALS TO
1) President of the Republic
S.E. Ramiro de León Carpio
Presidente de la República de Guatemala
Palacio Nacional, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Telegrams: Presidente de León Carpio,
Telex: 5331 CAPRES GU
Faxes: + 502 2 537472, + 502 2 519702
Salutation: Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente/
Dear President
2) Minister of the Interior
Lic. Arnoldo Ortiz Moscoso
Ministro de Gobernación
Ministerio de Gobernación
Despacho Ministerial, Of. NO. 8 Palacio Nacional
Guatemala, Guatemala
Telegrams: Ministro de Gobernacion, Guatemala, Guatemala
Faxes: + 502 2 515 368
Telexes: 5361 COMGUA GU
Salutation: Sr Ministro/Dear Minister
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Human Rights Procurator:
Lic. Jorge García Laguardia
Procurador de los Derechos Humanos
12 Avenida 12-71, Zona 1,
Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Faxes: + 502 2 81734
Archbishop's Human Rights Office Unidad de Acción Sindical y Popular
Oficina de Derechos Humanos del (UASP)
3
Arzobispado de Guatemala (ODHAG) 10 Avenida A 5-40
Apartado Postal 723 Zona 1, Guatemala, GUATE
Guatemala, Guatemala
FENASTEG Siglo Veintiuno (newspaper)
13 Calle 16-08 7a Avenida 11-63
Zona 1, Guatemala Edificio Galerías España 6º piso
GUATEMALA Zona 9, Guatemala, GUATE
and to diplomatic representatives of Guatemala accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat if
sending appeals after 15 April 1994.

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