REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Case 7585 (GUATEMALA)
June 25, 1981
1. In a
communication of November 17, 1980, the following denunciation was made to
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights:
are transmitting herein our eyewitness testimony of the murder of our
parents and the persecution against us, their children.
murder was committed with brazen impunity by the Government
"security" forces headed by General Romero Lucas García.
April 15, 1980, our parents were returning from downtown about 10:15 at
night, accompanied by our small brother. Our brother opened the wire-mesh
gate protecting the vehicle our parents were driving. At that instant, a
brown Toyota, with license plate P-31209, appeared. A man whose clothing
indicated he was from the east of the country got out of the Toyota and
went toward our parents' car, firing several shots.
first shots struck our father in the head and cheeks. The man emptied his
gun into the bodies of our parents alternately, firing at short range into
their chests, necks and faces. Our father tried to get out of the car and
called out to our mother: "Now, Andres," but he could do nothing
because he was unarmed.
father died almost instantly. Our mother opened her eyes and tried to say
something, but the mortal wounds in her chest, neck and face prevented
her. The 45-caliber bullets fired at point-blank range caused such profuse
bleeding that the bodies had to be "re-paired" before being laid
out in the coffins.
brother who opened the gate escaped, but he was threatened by the
murderers who brandished their guns at him and said: "Don't say
later, two cars with armed men parked some 150 meters from our house.
that time, we were in a state of shock from the impact of such a brutal
and inhuman attack against our parents.
later when we recovered a little, were we able to call the volunteer fire
department, who came 30 minutes later without sirens or emergency lights.
Fifteen minutes later, a National Police tank, which people
call "Swat," arrived. The police cynically laughed at how the
bodies of our parents were lying. One of the brothers asked them to go
away, and the police responded with threats. They left only when a number
of persons intervened.
Our mother was a worker in the garment industry. When she
married, she quit work to take care of our home. Our father was General
Secretary of the Guatemalan Union of Bricklayers and Related Crafts, a
member of the Executive Committee of the Autonomous Union Federation of
Guatemala (FASGUA), a member of the Board of Directors of the Guatemalan
Union Unity Committee (CNUS), and a representative of the Guatemalan
Construction Workers to the Latin American Federation of Building,
Carpentry and Construction (FLEMACON) to the Union Unity Committee of
Central America and Panama (CUSCA), to the Latin American Permanent
Congress of Workers (CPOSTAL), and to the World Union Federation (FSM).
He was engaged in union activities for over 20 years and,
in 1977 and 1978, had been warned by the heads of the Verapaz Departments
and a plantation owner named Champán that he would be shot if he entered
the region. Other threats were made against the FASGUA Executive Committee
by the Ministers of the Government and of Labor.
The Federation headquarters in Escuintla had been
At 8:00 that night, our parents, along with one of our
small brothers, left the downtown area. As they did so, they saw a man on
the corner who, when he saw them, got into a Toyota with other individuals
and followed them for several blocks but lost them. On leaving the
district, they also noticed a Toyota and a Volkswagen with armed men in
them. The Toyota was not visible when they returned, neither was the radio
patrol car that guarded the Chief of the National Police Radio, Patrol
Section who lives in the same district.
After the murder, a number of persons picked up shells and
said they were the 45-caliber bullets used by the Army. The other shells
were "confiscated" by the police, who remained silent about the
caliber of them. An official press release was published on the events by
the El Gráfico newspaper, on April 17, which maintained that there was no
explanation of the events, no witness to the murders, and that the caliber
of the weapon used was unknown. The caliber was not mentioned in the
autopsy report, either.
Not satisfied with having taken the lives of our parents,
they began to persecute our family. This began to be seen in the
dissecting room where we were waiting for the autopsy finding. We went
with some friends of the family to a cafeteria to pass the time while
waiting. At that time, two policemen (vigilantes), who were driving a
motorcycle, stopped for several minutes and watched us intently.
The FASGUA headquarters, where the bodies of our parents
were laid out, was heavily guarded. There were a number of telephone calls
asking for the sons of the victims, but when they answered the phone,
nobody was on the line. They asked for the son who had seen the murders.
The firemen refused to give any information on the event
"on orders from up" according to several media people who
requested information from anybody outside the family. During the funeral,
we were harassed by heavy police surveillance, including elements of the
Telephone service, providing us with communication to the
outside world, was cut off. A number of persons connected with the central
government stressed to us that the only way to guarantee our lives was to
leave the country, because of the "scandal" that had resulted
from the murder of our parents and because of the consequent actions that
we might take.
Because our stay in the country became unbearable as a
result of the anxiety produced by the many threats received, we found it
necessary to go to the Embassy of Venezuela, requesting diplomatic
protection to guarantee our safe departure. The Venezuelan officials
agreed to protect us.
2. In a note of
December 19, 1980, the Commission transmitted the pertinent portions of
this denunciation to the Government of Guatemala, requesting information
on the case.
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.
39 of the Commission's regulations provides as follows:
facts reported in the petition whose pertinent parts 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
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
1. Based on
Article 39 of its Regulations, to presume to be true the events denounced
in the communication of November 17, 1980, concerning the murder of
Rodolfo Ramírez and his wife Andrea Rodríguez de Ramírez and the
intimidation and threats made against their children.
2. To declare that
the Government of Guatemala violated Article 4 (right to life) of the
American Convention on Human Rights.
3. To recommend
that the Guatemalan Government investigate the events denounced and, if
warranted, punish those responsible, and that it inform the Commission of
its decision on the case within 60 days.
4. To transmit
this resolution to the Government of Guatemala and to the claimants.
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
Statute and Article 59 (g) of the Regulations of the Commission.
Note: Dr. Francisco Bertrand Galindo declined to hear and decide on this case because he was living in Guatemala when the reported events occurred.