REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Case 7581 (GUATEMALA)
June 25, 1981
1. In a
communication of November 6, 1980, the following denunciation was made to
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights:
March 1980, Mr. Nehemías Cúmez, Chief of the Department of Low-Cost
Housing, of the town of Comalapa, was abducted on the way to his house
when an automobile blocking the road forced his Land Rover to a stop. When
he got out of his Land Rover, four men armed with shotguns and submachine
guns made him get into their automobile. Since that time no news has been
received of his whereabouts, although his Land Rover turned up in the town
of Sunpango, 60 kilometers away.
July, two related abductions occurred in Comalapa. On July 24, some
soldiers stationed on the outskirts of Comalapa stopped a bus traveling
from Comalapa to the capital, and abducted Adolfo Cúmez, the 18-year-old
nephew of Nehemias. When he tried to intercede, Anastasio Sotz, 24, the
Secretary of Low-Cost Housing, who had replaced Nehemias Cúmez as
President of that agency, was also taken away.
August, René Gomez Ovalle, 30, the son of a well-known merchant in
Comalapa, was detained in Chimaltenango.
August, three kilometers from Comalapa, on the road to the capital, a
ravine some 120 feet deep was discovered, which has been used regularly to
dump the bodies of abducted persons. Some 30 bodies were taken from there.
Campesinos have reported that there were many more but the Government did
not want to remove all of them. For a year, according to some witnesses,
vehicles arrived at the place at night, turned off their lights and then
disappeared. Eyewitnesses have reported that there are still many bodies
at that place and that the Government has been duly informed of this.
October 4, Juan Muz, 40, a friend of Nehemías Cúmez, was abducted from
his home by four persons, as witnessed by his wife, his 17-year-old son
and several neighbors. His body was found two days later 30 kilometers
away, showing signs of torture. On the following day, some 15 soldiers
patrolled the market to quell any demonstration that might have taken
place during the burial.
October 10, 1980, Antonio Muz, 35 years of age, and Roque Salazar, 30,
employees of the Reconstruction Board, were abducted from a bus traveling
from the capital to Comalapa by persons armed with Guatemalan Army
submachine guns who were dressed in civilian clothes but wore Army boots.
The body of Salazar was found on October 15, with the teeth pulled out and
the tongue cut out, among other mutilations.
October 15, two other persons were abducted from a Chimaltenango office:
another employee of the Reconstruction Board, Ernesto Apén, 28, and
Maximiliano Otzoy, a legal aide, both residents of Comalapa.
November, several other murders occurred. A 17-year-old youth, Paquixic,
was murdered in a nearby village in front of his family. A few days after,
Julio Tuyuc, 25, was abducted on the public road in Comalapa by armed
persons who made him get into their car. His body was found the following
Comalapa residents, including Lic. Miguel Corruchiche, were murdered in
the capital when their car stopped at a red light. All of these persons
were connected, as was Nehemías Cúmez, with the Comalapa Reconstruction
Government is held responsible for these acts.
2. In a note of
December 16, 1980, the Commission transmitted the pertinent portion of
this denunciation to the Guatemalan Government, requesting information on
3. In a note of
April 20, 1981, the Commission again requested information from the
1. To date, the
Government has not replied to the Commission's requests for information.
2. Article 39 of
the Commission's Regulations provides as follows:
The facts reported in the petition whose pertinent parties have
been transmitted to the government of the state in reference shall be
presumed to be true if, during the maximum period set by the Commission
under the provisions of Article 31, paragraph 5, the government has not
provided the pertinent information, as long as other evidence does not
lead to a different conclusion.
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
on Article 39 of its Regulations, to presume to be true the acts denounced
in the communication of November 6, 1980, concerning the arbitrary arrests
of the following persons from the village of Comalapa:
Cúmez and his nephew Adolfo Cúmez, Anastasio Sotz, René Gómez Ovalle,
Antonio Muz, Ernesto Apén and Maximiliano Otzoy; the arbitrary arrest and
later torture and murder of Juan Muz and Roque Salazar; the arbitrary
arrest and later murder of Julio Tuyucard the murder of Lic. Miguel
2. To declare that
the Government of Guatemala violated Articles 4 (right to life), 5 (right
to humane treatment), 7 (right to personal liberty), 8 (right to a fair
trial) and 25 (right to judicial protection) of the American Convention on
3. To recommend
that the Guatemalan Government investigate the acts denounced and, if
warranted, punish those responsible; and that it communicate its decision
to the Commission within 60 days.
4. To transmit
this resolution to the Government of Guatemala and to the claimant.
5. To include this
resolution in the Commission's Annual Report to the General Assembly of
the Organization of American States pursuant to Article 18 (f), of the
Statutes and Article 59 (g) of the Regulations of the Commission.
Dr. Francisco Bertrand Galindo declined to hear and decide on this case because he was living in Guatemala when the reported events occurred.