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UA 328/94 - Guatemala: apparent extrajudicial execution / fear for safety: Rene Cabrera Estrada, Efrain Recinos Gomez, Basilio Guzman Juarez, Diego Orozco

, N° d'index: AMR 34/038/1994

There is concern for the safety of Rene Cabrera Estrada, Finance Secretary of the Union of Workers at the Central Bottling Company (STECSA), who is in a critical condition after being stabbed repeatedly by two unidentified men in Guatemala City on 31 August 1994. He was attacked after taking part in a demonstration in Guatemala City called to protest against the actions of police who on 24 August 1994 forcibly evicted peasants occupying the Hacienda San Juan del Horizonte, Coatepeque province, Quetzaltenango department. According to reports police opened fire on the peasants, killing Efrain Recinos Gomez and Basilio Guzman Juarez, and wounding several others. Over 40 people were detained and later conditionally released. Shortly afterwards, however, the tortured body of Diego Orozco, a trade union leader from the Hacienda, was found 60 kilometres away.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 34/38/94
Distr: UA/SC
UA 328/94 Apparent Extrajudicial Execution/Fear for Safety 9 September 1994
GUATEMALA Fear for Safety: René CABRERA ESTRADA, Finance Secretary of the
Sindicato de Trabajadores de Embotelladora Central, S.A.(STECSA), Union of
Workers at the Central Bottling Company
Apparent excessive use of force: Efraín RECINOS GÓMEZ
Basilio GUZMÁN JUÁREZ
Apparent extrajudicial execution: Diego OROZCO
Amnesty International is concerned for the physical security of René Cabrera
Estrada, who is in a critical condition after being stabbed repeatedly by two
unknown men in Guatemala City on 31 August 1994. The organization believes
he is still in danger from the two men who attacked him. Amnesty is also concerned
at the apparent extrajudicial execution of Diego Orozco and the killings of
Efraín Recinos Gómez and Basilio Guzmán Juárez which may have been the result
of excessive use of force by Guatemalan riot police.
On 24 August 1994, 500 riot police forcibly evicted peasants occupying the
Hacienda San Juan del Horizonte, in the province of Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango
department. The peasants had been in a labour dispute with their employers
at the Hacienda and had undertaken the occupation to press for respect for
a series of labour rights guaranteed in the Guatemalan constitution. The
peasants were also pressing for the standard peaceful procedures for resolution
of labour disputes to be adhered to, as had also reportedly been urged by the
Minister of Labour, the Attorney General and the Human Rights Procurator's
office.
Despite these calls for a peaceful resolution of the labour dispute, the riot
police opened fire on those occupying the Hacienda. Efraín Recinos Gómez, a
member of the Unidad Sindical de Trabajadores de Guatemala (UNSITRAGUA), Labour
Union of Guatemalan Workers who had been bringing food to the occupiers, and
Basilio Guzmán Juárez, a peasant working at the Hacienda San Juan del Horizonte,
were killed. Several others were wounded, two of them seriously, and over 40
people detained. Witnesses described the actions undertaken by the police in
the course of the eviction as extremely violent. According to the police version
of events, the peasants were armed, an allegation denied by the workers.
Those detained in the incident were subsequently conditionally released.
Shortly afterwards, however, the tortured body of Diego Orozco, a trade union
leader from the Hacienda San Juan del Horizonte, was found 60 kilometres away.
On 31 August, René Cabrera Estrada, member of STECSA, a trade union affiliated
to UNSITRAGUA, took part in a demonstration in Guatemala City called to protest
the actions of the police at the Hacienda. Moments afterwards, as he left for
home, he was attacked by two unknown man who stabbed him repeatedly. He is
now in a critical condition in hospital. UNSITRAGUA believes the attack was
politically motivated, as he was not robbed and because two men on a motor-cycle
followed the ambulance taking him to hospital. It has also been reported that
unidentified men have been asking for René Cabrera Estrada in hospital and
medical centres in Guatemala City.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
For many years Amnesty International has been concerned about human rights
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violations in Guatemala. Trade unionists, peasants, student leaders,
journalists and those working with non-governmental organizations have been
long-term targets of abuses, including harassment, threats, torture
"disappearances" and extrajudicial executions.
A human rights accord was signed on 29 March 1994 in Mexico City, by
representatives of the Guatemalan Government and the armed opposition
coalition, the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG), Guatemalan
National Revolutionary Unity. Under the agreement, a final accord to bring
an end to Guatemala's long internal conflict is to be reached by the end of
the year after further agreements are reached on a number of topics, including
indigenous rights. However, despite the March human rights accord, trade
unionists and others continue to be victims of abuses carried out by the
Guatemalan security forces. In a statement issued on 4 August, the URNG said
that it would withdraw from negotiations unless the government complied with
a number of conditions. These included protection of grassroots activists,
such as Efraín Recinos Gómez, Basilio Guzmán Juárez, Diego Orozco and René
Cabrera Estrada.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Spanish, English or your own language:
- expressing concern at the apparent excessive use of force by members of
the riot police during a peaceful occupation by peasants, during which two
people were shot and killed, and many others injured. Point out that under
the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, law
enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the
extent required for performance of their duties. Ask that the incident be fully
investigated and that any law enforcement official found to have used excessive
force be brought to justice;
- expressing concern at the apparent extrajudicial execution of Diego Orozco;
- asking for a full and independent investigation into his killing
and that those found to be responsible be brought to justice;
- asking for a full and impartial investigation into the attack against René
Cabrera Estrada and that those found responsible be brought to justice;
- asking for guarantees for the safety of René Cabrera Estrada.
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, Guatemala, Guatemala
Faxes: + 502 2 347 364
Telexes: 5331 CAPRES GU
Salutation: Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente /Dear President
2) Minister of Defence:
Gral. Mario Enríquez Morales
Ministro de Defensa
Ministerio de Defensa
Palacio Nacional, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Telegrams: Ministro de Defensa, Guatemala, Guatemala
Faxes: + 502 2 21906
Telexes: 5361 COMGUA GU
Salutation: Sr. Ministro / Dear Minister
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3) Director of National Police
Lic. Mario René Cifuentes Echeverría
Director General de la Policía Nacional
6 Avenida 13-71, Zona 1
Guatemala, Guatemala
Telegrams: Director General de la Policia Nacional, Guatemala, Guatemala
Telephone: + 502 2 516268, 519429
Faxes: + 502 2 519382
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Human Rights Procurator:
Lic. Jorge García Laguardia
Procurador de los Derechos Humanos
12 Avenida 12-72, Zona 1,
Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Faxes: + 502 2 81734
Head of the Presidential Commission Coordinating the Policies of the Executive
relating to Human Rights:
Lic. Jorge Gonzalo Cabrera Hurtarte
Presidente
COPREDEH
15 Avenida 18-38, Zona 13
Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Trade Union
Unión Sindical de Trabajadores de Guatemala
(UNSITRAGUA)
11 Calle 8-14, Of. 34,
Tercer Nivel,
Zona 1, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
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 20 October 1994.

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