EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 34/43/93
UA 215/93 "Disappearance" 28 June 1993
GUATEMALA: Erwin ALVARADO ESTRADA, trader
Aurelio CABRERA MENDEZ, trader
Amnesty International is concerned about the "disappearance" of Erwin Alvarado
Estrada and Aurelio Cabrera Méndez on 24 June 1993 in the municipality of
Joyabaj, department of El Quiché, which is heavily patrolled by members of
the Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil (PAC), Civil Defence Patrols.
According to reports, on 19 June 1993 the two men were attacked and threatened
with being shot by the head of the PAC in that area. Later that day they were
followed by the same man, who shot at their homes and at their vehicle. On
the following day, while the two men were at the local police station asking
for protection, another member of the PAC arrived at the police station and
apparently said, in the presence of police officers, that "the job had not
been done properly" and that he would do it himself. The police reportedly
tried to detain him but he escaped.
Subsequently, on 24 June 1993 Erwin Alvarado Estrada and Aurelio Cabrera Méndez
"disappeared" following a meeting with the local governor of the department
of El Quiché.
Erwin Alvarado Estrada and Aurelio Cabrera Méndez had refused to join the PAC
and had been actively trying to bring members of the PAC to trial for alleged
violations. For this reason, it is feared that they may have been detained.
However, this has not been acknowledged by the authorities and there is therefore
concern for their safety.
Civil Defence Patrols (PAC) were created as a component of the military's
counter-insurgency strategy in 1982. Although voluntary according to the
Constitution, civil patrols are in effect compulsory. Those refusing to take
part in them have been branded "guerrillas", and many have been subjected to
human rights violations, including harassment and attacks, "disappearance"
and extrajudicial execution.
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
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