1.            INTRODUCTION


            In its report of June 1993,[2] the Commission presented a vision of the troublesome socioeconomic and political conditions that constrain effective implementation of human rights in that region.


            Coincidentally, a recent government report synthesizes that position as follows:


            Guatemala has been a country where 10% of the population has taken advantage of its wealth but 90% has appeared only occasionally  on the national stage, thus illustrating a generally unattended and ignored status.  This picture showed not only an economic crisis, but also one of morality and authority.  Corruption has permeated all levels of the public administrative structure.  A situation of low morale and discouragement has shown through in the behavior and attitudes of public officials and the population.[3]


            In its on-site visit of September 1993[4], the Commission found that, despite the Government's real efforts, groups remain which are violating human rights or concealing such violations.  The militarization of security organizations and rural life, attacks on trade union, political and human rights leaders, and the ineffectiveness of the justice system continue prevailing over the positive actions of the administration of Mr. Ramiro de Leon Carpio and especially of the Ministry of Government, the Human Rights Attorney and the Public Ministry, and even of military officers who want to enforce the observance of fundamental rights.


            The militarization of power continues not only through the PACs (civil defense patrols, today called the Civilian Self-Defense Committees or CDVCs), with more than half a million persons in several thousand communities organized, but also in the conti­nuing existence of the Presidential General Staff as the military body that runs the Office of the President of the Republic, in lack of respect for the civilian population in anti-subversion activities, and in institutionalized military obstruction to collaboration in the investigation of the serious violations of past years.  


            For its part, the provocative action of subversive groups, even with its reduced presence, strengthens that militarization and the position of the armed forces.


            Since June 5 when President Serrano was replaced constitutionally by Mr. Ramiro de Leon Carpio, the former Human Rights Attorney, the government has taken real steps both to reform its institutions and adopt policies aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of human rights.  Several of these are:


            -            The affirmation of civil jurisdiction and of the Ministry of Government over the problems involving refugees or violations committed by the PACs;


            -            The differentiation between the tasks of the National Police and the return of military officers that worked with that force to their specific activities;


            -            The instructions of the Ministry of Government calling for every house search to be authorized by a court order obtained by legal process;


            -            Measures to expedite the return of refugees living in Mexico and the FONAPAZ (National Peace Fund) and FONATIERRA (National Lands Fund-INTA) programs, even though these are confined to resolving the problems of refugees, displaced persons and returnees;


            -            Easier procedural requirements to form civilian and trade union associations.


            -            The promise to withdraw the military detachment from the urban limits of Tercer Pueblo in Quiché in compliance with the agreements with the refugees in Mexico who want to return.


            Despite all these governmental efforts, 53 "extrajudicial executions" attributed to paramilitary groups were reported between June 6 and October 14, and the authorities have been unable to identify the persons responsible for them.[5]


            In his report on 1993, the Human Rights Attorney reported 160 unrejected com­plaints of extrajudicial deaths, of which 146 are under investigation and 14 have al­rea­dy been confirmed to be such.  He reported 62 complaints of forced disappearances, of which 22 are of persons who have since turned up alive, 29 of persons who have "not been found by investigation," 9 of persons discovered dead, and 2 of cases already con­firmed as forced disappearances.  He also reported the receipt of complaints of 54 cases of torture, 185 of abuse of authority, 182 of threats, and 53 of illegal detention, and an additional 174 cases of complaints of irregular military recruitment.


            According to the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese, between January and August 1993, a total of 774 transgressions of individual guarantees occurred.  Among these are the extra-judicial executions of 108 persons, the murder of another 282, 19 forced disappearances, 146 attacks, 216 persons threatened and 3 cases of torture.  President de Leon Carpio has replied in public statements that many of these deaths are occurring as a result of the armed internal conflict.


            The climate of greater public liberties[6] which has opened up, as well as continuing threats against these liberties, have led to the formation of new human rights defense groups.  Fourteen indigenous groups together created the Office for the Defense of Mayan Rights.[7]  This office consists of a network of local assistance offices concerned with Mayan rights in the villages and cantons, and a network of human rights and Mayan rights committees and commissions at the municipal level.  This autonomous office will decide on its own steps based on the thinking, experience and work of the local Mayan rights offices in the villages and that of the municipal committees and commissions.



            Other offices that have been set up are the CONADEHGUA, the National Human Rights Coordination Office of Guatemala, composed of the Mutual Support Group (GAM), the Runjel Junam Ethnic Coordination Office (CERJ), the Human Rights Commission of Guatemala (CDHG) headquartered in Mexico, the National Council of the Displaced (CONDEG) and the Office of the Representative of the Center for Investigation and Studies of Human Rights (CIEPRODH), of the Guatemalan Association of Jurists, the Widows Coordination Office of Guatemala (CONAVIGUA) and the Human Rights Defense Commission of the Wucu'b Noj Indigenous Peoples (CDHI).





            Unfortunately, this period confirmed what the IACHR stated in its Fourth Report concerning the resurgence of attacks against leaders from different civilian, urban and rural segments of society.  Essentially this was an effort to create widespread fear among the movements for the assertion and defense of human rights[8].



            2.1.            Attacks against defenders of human rights


            -    A self-proclaimed "anticommunist movement" issued a public death threat against 21 leaders of human rights organizations on October 6.


            -            Several court system officials and staff members of the Office of the Human Rights Attorney have been threatened or assaulted.  Mario Cabrera Ramazzini, the representative of the Public Ministry in Solola, a judge and his employees who were investigating the death of Tomas Lares Cipriano, a member of the CERJ, have been so victimized.


            -            On September 10, a bomb exploded in the offices of the Association of Jurists of Guatemala, but did not cause any personal injuries.


            -            Following the protest of December 10 celebrating the Universal Day of Human Rights, five armed men wearing military clothing and carrying weapons abducted, beat and then freed the GAM leader, Mario Polanco, who had to be hospitalized.


            2.2.            Attacks against rural and Mayan organizations


            During the second half of 1993, and especially in October and November, mem­bers of the Guatemalan army, the G-2, military commissioners and civil patrol members committed violations against CONAVIGUA in Guatemala City and elsewhere in the coun­try in what appears to be a systematic policy of harassment for that organization's activities in defense of freedom of association, legal military recruitment, and the right not to participate in the CDVCs.


            These attacks include the tailing and surveillance  of leaders and attacks on their faci­lities, and several attacks in Colotenango, La Democracia, Chimaltenango, and Momo­­ste­nango in Nebaj (Quiché).  Attacks were also made on offices of CONIC (the Natio­nal Coordinating Office of Indian and Peasant Institutions) and CONDEG (the Na­tio­nal Coordinating Office of Displaced Persons of Guatemala).


            2.3.            Attacks on trade union leaders


            All during this period, threats and attacks against trade union leaders continued, including attacks on leaders of UNSITRAGUA (Union of Trade Union Workers of Gua­temala) and different trade unions, including those of the employees of the Judiciary, hospitals, the postal service and agricultural services.  There is continuing harass­ment of urban and rural workers who want to exercise their right of association in trade unions.



            2.4.            Attacks on university leaders and faculty members


            Student leaders and faculty members have also been physically attacked for their activities in this period.  The Commission has received complaints of cases of univer­si­ty teachers and leaders who have been "disappeared" and shot at, and of other cases in which they have been forced by threats to exile themselves and their families abroad.  At least student leader was murdered after reporting such threats to the Office of the Human Rights Attorney.


            2.5.            Attacks on journalists


            This selective intimidation campaign also is in operation against the press, and the government's condemnation and the steps it has taken to investigate this campaign have not succeeded in putting a stop to it.  From September 1993 to the end of the year, the following events also occurred:


            -            the murder of Mr. Jorge Carpio Nicolle, owner and director of the newspaper El Gráfico and General Secretary of the Unión del Centro Nacional (Union of the National Center) party, the prosecution of which is being conducted faultily in order to pre­vent identification of the culprits.


            -            Death threats against TV Director Dionisio Gutierrez, following his interviewing of URNG commanders in Mexico.


            -            The journalist Oscar Granados, president of the Parliamentary Journalists Union and coordinator of the Journalists Defense Council, went into exile abroad with his family after receiving several death threats and having his house looted and documents stolen.


            -            The offices of the newspaper Siglo XXI were machine-gunned in August.  The wea­pons used were of a caliber used exclusively by security forces.  Three of its jour­nalists were threatened by police officers.  Others threatened were the director and a reporter of the newspaper Prensa Libre, a photographer the newspaper La Hora, and the president of the Escuintla Journalists Union.


            -            Oscar Masaya, the director of TV Noticias, was attacked and wounded on October 8.  A few days prior to this, a threat list against journalists had appeared.


            -            On November 25, Felipe Sigal Cervantes of the newspaper Prensa Libre was attacked and several armed persons tried to kidnap him.  He escaped with injuries.


            -            In January 1994 threats were renewed against the journalists and director of the opposition journal Tinamit.


            -            Members of the families of independent journalists and persons close to them have also been murdered, for example, MARIA EUGENIA MUÑOZ DE MEJIA, 42, and  MARIA ALEJANDRA POLANCO MUÑOZ, 14, the wife and daughter of the journalist Maco Vinicio Mejía.  The two were first "disappeared," and their bodies were later found showing clear signs of torture at the beginning of 1994.


            -            The foreign press accredited to Guatemala charged that immigration officers were conducting investigations into the legal status of foreign correspondents and asserted that this was a kind of threat in that the investigation was in the hands of military intelligence officers.




            During the period covered by this report, subversive groups have carried out a variety of actions in Guatemala.  They have destroyed infrastructure components such as bridges and electricity towers.  Among the most noteworthy of these were:


            -            In August, a bomb destroyed an electric system pylon close to Colotenango, Huehuetenango.


            -            On October 14, guerrilla forces blew up a bridge at Tiquisate, Escuintla.


            -            On October 17 and then on October 20, guerrilla forces destroyed a bridge in Taxisco, Santa Rosa.


            -            On November 20, a bomb destroyed the Las Ilusiones bridge in the Department of Santa Rosa.


            -            On November 19, guerrilla forces raised barricades in Nenton, Huehuetenango, to prevent vehicles from going into nearby villages.


            The guerrilla forces were also accused of continuing their earlier policy of abductions and extortions.  The president of Anacafe, the National Coffee Association, indicated, however, that during the last two years, the guerrillas had not attempted any extortions against farm owners.[9]


            In the days leading up to the "popular consultation" on January 30, 1994, the guerrillas set off a series of explosions at different places in the country, causing one death and the destruction of communications towers in a campaign to generate opposition to the electoral process.  Explosives experts of the National Police were able to defuse on time ten other explosive devices in different business centers.




            Authorities of the present government administration have confirmed to the Commission that the system of justice is obsolete and ineffective for present needs.  Within the sphere of its competence, the Executive Branch of Government has taken steps to make the Public Ministry more effective.  This year, the number of inspectors has been raised from 38 to 112.  These persons are assisted by a similar number of advanced law school students, who are being provided transportation.  New justice system units have been established for the sole purpose of cases involving children, attacks against women, labor matters, constitutional matters, environment and training.


            The National Police, which is under the Ministry of Government, has begun its own demilitarization and has started to make changes under the present administration.  All its authorities are civilians with professional training in security and related matters.  These persons have replaced the military personnel who had been assigned to the police force and maintained it as an appendage of the military structure.  The Commission was informed that as they have withdrawn, the military forces have kept equipment and resources which were for national police force operations, and have thereby weakened the force's action capacity.


            The new police leaders have reported that their work approach focuses on protecting citizens and that it is starting courses and issuing directives to achieve that end.  The Commission has received official information that the present authorized number of 11,300 police agents (many of these positions are unfilled) will have to be tripled to 36,000 to provide effective service throughout the country.


            The Ministry of Government, for its part, has initiated a pilot municipal police force development project.  A municipal police force has the added advantage of strengthening local civilian authorities.  In addition, UNICEF is helping to form a police force specialized in children's problems. 


            5.            THE INSTITUTIONAL CRISIS


            The process of constitutional replacement of former President Serrano Elias led to the creation of a coalition of political forces that is unprecedented in Guatemalan history.  These forces are combined in the National Consensus Authority (INC) which was formed with the participation of the Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial and Financial Associations, the CACIF Business Chamber, several political parties and the Multisector Social Forum, which itself was an association of 35 trade union, human rights, indigenous and religious organizations.


            The INC played the main role in bringing about a constitutional outcome to the events of May, and its diversity and representative nature have given the situation the potential for the restoration of effective human rights.


            Starting in August, the Executive initiated a campaign aimed at implementing what was called the "cleansing of the legislative and judicial branches," by securing the voluntary resignations of congress people and members of the Supreme Court.  Following many tense situations and negotiations, an agreement was reached in November between the Executive and the representatives of the majority political parties in Congress to amend the constitution and submit the reforms to national consultation at the end of January 1994.  The reforms entail--among others--an early end to the term of office of congress members and new elections to replace them in August, approximately, prior to the elections for president to be held in early 1995.[10]


            The consensus that the INC had developed fell apart in late August when the position taken by the Multisector Social Forum was not accepted.  This position called for the cleansing to cover all sectors of the government, including the executive branch, and the armed forces.  The Forum withdrew from the INC on October 8.


            The 37 constitutional reforms enter into force two months after the Supreme Electoral Tribunal announces the election results, and 15 days later the electoral authority must call for parliamentary elections to be held within 120 days.  The new Congress will be sworn in one month after those elections, and its members will hold office until the new full-term congressmen are elected in 1995.


            The "popular consultation" on the aforementioned constitutional reforms was car­ried out without major incident on January 30, 1994.  The reforms were carried with an absolute majority of 377,044 votes in favor and 70,761 against, with 84.6% of the three and a half million qualified voters staying away.


            6.            THE NEED FOR ELECTORAL REFORM


            In an eminently rural country with departments of widely varying social composition and interests, the exclusive right of nominating parliamentary candidates given by the Electoral Law to the national parties makes it impossible for a group that is predominant in one or more departments (such as several of the Mayan and Quiche ethnic groups), but has no nationwide presence, to nominate can­didates for congress.  The Commission considers that the Guatemalan state government should promote reforms enhancing the genuineness and representativity of the present democratic structure and allow regional parties to nominate candidates for congress.


            7.            PEACE NEGOTIATIONS


            On July 13, 1993, the new administration presented a proposal to renew the peace negotiation process with the National Guatemalan Revolutionary Unit (URNG).  The proposal consisted of separating the discussions of the armed conflict from other discussions dealing with national problems, human rights included.  The first of these discussions would be the responsibility of a Special Negotiating Commission, with the collaboration of the United Nations and the OAS.  The second would be held in Guatemala as part of a forum the representatives of different sectors in attendance.


            This proposal was rejected by the URNG and by representatives of the Catholic Church, which had mediated the preceding negotiations, as well as by several public interest organizations.


            Finally, however, on November 20 the National Permanent Assembly of the Mayan People, made up of more than 200 organizations, accepted membership on the National Reconciliation Commission (CNR) and agreed to participate in the peace-making process.  This is one more indication of how independent the Mayan groups are from the URNG, which has rejected the government's plan.


            In early January 1994, the government and the URNG decided to meet under the auspices of the United Nations for the purpose of discussing the "new rules of the game" and agreed to restart the negotiations.


            On January 10, 1994, the Government and the URNG agreed in Mexico to conti­nue their discussion of a possible agenda for negotiations, and first of all the topics relating to human rights.  The agenda contains substantive and operational topics.  The former would include the human rights situation, the problem of land ownership, dis­placed populations, and constitutional reforms.  The operational topics are a cease-fire, demo­bi­li­zation of the rebels and their assimilation to the legal order.  An assembly of sectors of civil society would ratify the agreements concluded between the Government and the gue­rri­llas.  The talks will continue in March, and the President of the Republic has an­nounced publicly his aim of completing the negotiations in 1994.




            The pre-agreements on human rights that had been reached during the peace negotiations under the Serrano administration were suspended under the new proposal.  In exchange, the government issued in October an Official Declaration on Human Rights which reaffirmed its commitment to improving and enforcing human rights, "without any agreement or understanding with any faction being necessary for it."


            The declaration continues saying that the government recognizes and undertakes to act firmly against impunity.  To do this, it promises, among others, to present to the legislature for adoption descriptions and drastic punishments for cases of forced disappearance as well as extra-judicial executions.  With respect to the members of the security forces, the declaration holds that no exclusive authority or jurisdiction can hide behind impunity.  It agrees to cleanse the security forces and professionalize them, and to fight against the existence of illegal bodies or secret security apparatuses.  


            With respect to the PACs, it gives the Office of the Human Rights Attorney the responsibility for controlling voluntary membership in them and the legality of their acts.  It declares that the government will not encourage the formation of any new PACs and the basic groups that would be formed must be decided by the community, under the supervision of the Human Rights Attorney.[11]  It notes the importance of the rights of free association, travel and movement.  


            The declaration points out that obligatory military service must be in conformity with constitutional rules and must not be discriminatory.  It also indicates the government's decision to protect those who advocate human rights and to investigate any attacks against them, and to assist the victims of violations and eradicate the sufferings of the civil population which have been caused by the armed confrontation.


            The official government declaration ends by recognizing the work of the United Nations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the OAS, to work with the public sector of Guatemala on strengthening, training and improving its mechanisms for protection and defense of human rights.





            In its Fourth Report, the IACHR remarked that the differences in the effective enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in Guatemala were abysmal and constitute real discrimination against major segments of the population, in particular, Guatemalan Mayans.  The indivisibility of these rights from civil and political rights is made particularly clear in the Guatemalan situation.



            The unequal distribution of income, essential services and land ownership, and the lack of respect for the ownership rights of rural persons and Mayans are the worst manifestations of this problem area.




            University of San Carlos[12] data indicate 2% of the population receives 65% of the income, and that 80% of all taxes are indirect, that is, they are levied on the entire population.  The Tax Administration Program of the Ministry of Finance states that of 16 Latin American countries studied, Guatemala has the lowest tax burden, approximately 7%.[13]


            Approximately 89% of all Guatemalans live in poverty and two-thirds of these in extreme poverty.  Illiteracy reaches more than 75% of those older than 15 years in certain departments (Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Quiche, Huehuetenango and Totonicapan), which are precisely where most of the violence takes place.[14]


            In the health area, the major problems are malnutrition, maternal-infant mortality and infectious diseases.  Maternal mortality has been an ignored tragedy, and the rate among indigenous mothers is 50% higher than the average for the entire female population.  These women do not have access even to minimal health care.[15]


            An evaluation conducted in July 1990 found that 41.2% of children younger than 5 years suffered from either moderately acute or severe malnutrition.  The prevalence of goiter rose between 1979 and 1989 from 8% to 20.4% of the population.  Acute respiratory illnesses are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality.  Each child suffers 5 to 8 episodes as a yearly average and almost 10,000 deaths owed to this cause were recorded in 1990.


            Malaria has spread to 20 of the 22 departments and the number of cases has risen from 41,771 in 1990 to 57,560 in 1992.  The growth rates for dengue are similar; for this disease, the population at risk is 383,281.[16]  One person dies every day from cholera and another 31 contract this disease, according to official data.  According to SEGEPLAN (General Secretariat for Planning), 60% of the population lacks sanitary services and disposes of their waste in lakes and rivers.  Only 38% of the population has running water service.


            Among the positive advances are reductions in diseases that can be prevented by vaccinations such as measles and diarrheic diseases.  The vaccination programs that have been conducted increasingly by the government since 1985 succeeded in raising the vaccination coverage of children under 1 year of age from 10% in 1985 to 60% in 1990.


            The present administration has designed an important program called Health Policy Guidelines 1994-95.  According to this program, the people will have greater involvement in decisions and resource management through their local, municipal and departmental authorities.  The health model based on family self-care with social and community participation would start on an experimental basis in 61 priority municipalities, coinciding with areas where the greatest violations of human rights have occurred, that is, Huehuetenango, Quiche, Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz.


            According to these guidelines, the health model would take a multi-cultural and multi-language approach and pay particular care to disadvantaged groups, migrants and extremely poor villages.  At this time, health care and sanitary services give preferential attention to urban sectors and medium and high income groups.  For example, in Guatemala Department (the capital city area), there are three times as many hospital beds as there are in the rest of the country.  More than 80% of all resources are concentrated in Guatemala City and the departmental seats, in a country that is predominantly rural.[17]  Half of the population lacks health care and 20% to 30% receive inadequate care, according to the government's report.




            A latifundio-minifundio system exists in Guatemala; it has been spreading over the last decade, suggesting greater inequality in land distribution.  Of all land owners, 2.1% hold 72% of the tillable lands and receive 90% of the agricultural credit.  On the other hand, there are 548,000 small holdings with an average size of 1.77 manzanas, or approximately 3 acres.


            Worsening this problem is a housing shortage which has been calculated by SEGEPLAN at approximately 942,000 units, in a country of 9 million persons.  This imbalance is complicated by the displacement of more than one million persons at the start of the 1980s because of the war and the antisubversion relocation plans.


            The Housing Bank (BANVI), which had started buying lands for relocation of those who lost their dwellings to the 1976 earthquake, owns extensive vacant lands which continually are the targets of spontaneous squatting attempts because of the public sector's inability to solve the problem.


            On August 30, 600 displaced persons occupied BANVI lands in Nimajuyu in Zone 21 of Guatemala City, and started a settlement called Marco Antonio Diaz, in a place from which hundreds of families had been removed in 1992.  They also started negotiations with CEAR.  In October 1993, these persons were removed by court order.


            The land problem has also been the cause of many conflicts which led to the formation of the Communities of Peoples in Resistance (CPRs).  According to statements made by expert witnesses in Guatemala, many of the army and PAC actions against these people stemmed from the success that agricultural cooperatives were having in that northern region, and attempts to take their land from them and prevent the new cooperatives from forming.


            Now that the military conflict is virtually over considering how weak the guerrilla forces are, this problem has come to the surface again.  According to charges received, military agents are falsely informing the people of Chajul that the CPR Monitoring Commissions are handing out land titles to CPR members for lands owned by the people of Chajul.  This is the type of information spread at the right time to create animosity against the cooperatives and to justify the struggle for their legally obtained lands.


            According to information received, the land ownership rights of campesinos are not respected by the PACs.  The PACs want to take control of the lands with the assistance of civilian and military authorities.  In the hamlet of La Esperanza Blanca Flor, Santa Cruz Barillas, Huehuetenango, PAC members have allegedly attempted to remove campesinos who have not collaborated with them from lands they legally own.


            One special problem is army occupation of private lands in an irregular and uncompensated manner.  In 1980, approximately 700 persons who lived in the village of Los Cimientos were forced to leave their lands because of the war.  The army established a garrison there and has still not addressed the community's appeals to have their lands restored to them.


            Positive public sector actions, on the other hand, have been seen mainly in the work of the National Agrarian Reform Institute which reported to the Commission that during the period 1991-1993, it had adjudicated 48,342 hectares to 88,606 persons, and had recorded and was processing lands already in possession amounting to 94,265 hectares (93% of which were publicly owned lands) to benefit 12,500 families.  Together with CEAR, the agrarian reform had surveyed and parceled lands for resettlement of repatriates, and had assisted in establishing 20 new rural group businesses.  It had also given 224 rural training courses mainly in Ixcan, Izabal and Alta Verapaz.[18]


            Other favorable developments were the statements of December 10th, 1993, made by the Minister of Defense, General Enriquez, who pointed out that the ministry had requested the Ixcan Grande Cooperative to rent land to it to establish a garrison at a considerable distance from the local population, thereby taking a respectful attitude toward rights of ownership and agreements signed.




            The campaign to intimidate workers and their leaders continues in the effort to prevent them from exercising their rights of association.  Among the maquiladora or assembly companies, there have been death threats and threats of discharge against employees who want to form unions (the case of Dina Nimamac Herrera and other employees of the Guatemalan ESDEE company).  Other cases involve charges of plants being emptied and owners fleeing without paying compensation owed to workers and no public sector intervention, despite court orders to do so.[19]


            A Pan American Health Organization report maintains that in assembly plants, "work is performed in inadequate health conditions; the situation affects women primarily."[20]  Of all the complaints received this year at the Ministry of Labor, 15% relate to assembly companies and, according to the officers of UNSITRAGUA, labor leaders have been fired or threatened with death or companies have been emptied illegally, in seven of nine labor movement situations.


            Because of national and international pressures,[21] the government has stepped up its attention to labor complaints involving problems at assembly plants.  At the end of 1993, the Ministry of Labor approved in less than two months the juridical personality of four assembly plant unions and started conducting inspection rounds at textile companies.  In addition, on October 22, it created a high level governmental commission to make sure the economic development policy was coordinated with respect to labor law.  Symposiums have also been held with the cooperation of the Embassy of Korea to provide information to prospective investors.







            The Commission confirmed in its visit to rural areas the serious infringement of the observance of human rights brought about by the system of armed civil patrols system organized by the army since the early 1980s for purposes of control and counter-insur­gency, and referred to the need to disband them.  Known by their initials PAC, these groups are now called Voluntary Civil Defense Committees or CDVCs.  In addition, many international, national and community agencies have called for their dissolution.[22]  In his report of January 1994 the present Human Rights Attorney, Dr. Jorge La Guardia, also asserts the necessity of disbanding them.


            President De Leon Carpio has indicated publicly that the disbanding of the patrols can be taken up only when the armed conflict is over.  His position has been elaborated in a note to the President of the United States, which is commented on below.


            The Minister of National Defense, in a letter to the IACHR dated September 1993, sets out the government's position, according to which:[23]


            ...depending on the intensity of the conflict, areas of subversive activity, areas of influence and pacified areas have been defined.  For that reason, Voluntary Civil Defense Committees (CDVCs) exist in areas of activity and in some areas of influence, where they perform armed surveillance operations to keep their communities free of terrorist attacks or incursions.


            In the pacified areas, CDVCs have been organized but they remain inactive inasmuch as there is no need to mobilize in response to an action against their security.


            In departments where the problem has been controlled, several committees have been demobilized and others have remained organized for purposes of community development.  These call themselves Committees for Peace and Development (CPD), and they do not carry out any surveillance action since none is necessary.  Similarly, others have decided to disband and maintain no type of organization since it is based on absolute voluntary participation.


            Following the statements made above, the information required is as below:




            Areas of subversive activity


            Department   Nº of Committees            Personel


            Huehuetenango            1,164            126,077

            Quiché                          750              60,203

            Alta Verapaz                  860             59,188

            Petén                           135             12,470


            Totales                     2,909            257,938



            Areas of influence


            There are CDVCs that are not mobilized but are on a state of alert in the departments of Chimaltenango, San Marcos and Santa Rosa.  In addition, there are CPDs working in community development activities.


            Pacified areas


            Peace and Development Committees exist in departments where the conflict has ended or has been controlled.  These committees, which are unarmed, are in almost all parts of the country, and are working for the benefit of the community.

            Confirming the note from the Ministry of Defense, the Executive Branch of Government in its Official Declaration on Human Rights on October 7, 1993, reaffirms its intention to keep the present committees.  It also indicates that it will not encourage the organization of any more committees, "provided no events occur to make them necessary," and if such events do occur, the local people could decide to establish them in a public manner controlled by the Human Rights Attorney.


            The Commission concluded, for its part, at the end of its on-site visit to Guatemala in September 1993:


            The IACHR views with grave concern the existence of about half a million persons organized in military formation under the PACs (Civilian Self-Defense Committees), with a capability for armed action outside real government control.  Wherever they operate they are a source of constant friction and human rights violations.  What is more, the Commission considers it necessary that they be disbanded or reorganized under the rules and standards of democratic society.  The experience of other countries shows that when the insurgencies that gave rise to them are past, these organizations, which are factors for chaos and illegality, can become a serious obstacle to domestic peace.  There have been cases in which PACs have become ungovernable and have openly disobeyed orders of the judiciary and the police, and set up their own systems of justice, while those who are supposed to control them have refrained from abolishing and disarming them, and placing them at the disposal of a competent judge.[24]


            The Commission thus confirmed its earlier position[25] after visiting civilian and military authorities, patrol chiefs and members, and campesinos, both in cities and in rural areas, and hearing their different opinions.


            In addition to the individual excesses by the patrols, some of which have come to the public's and the courts' attention, a matter of concern to the Commission is the system itself that has been set up as a power structure parallel to the constitutional civilian system.  This system sidesteps local governments and has its own authorities and local laws, and dictates or handles justice in its own way.[26]



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     [1] This section on Guatemala covers the period from June 1993 to January 1994.

     [2] IACHR, "Fourth Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala," OEA/Ser.L/V/11.83.

     [3] Republic of Guatemala, Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance.  "Lineamientos de politica de salud, 1994-1995,"  La Situacion Nacional y el Compromiso del Gobierno.  October 1993.

     [4] See details of the visit in Press Release No. 18/93, which appears at the end of this Annual Report.


     [5] The Commission of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared.  October 1993.

     [6]   To give an example, members of the UASP participated for the first time in the civilian-military march to celebrate the September 15 Independence Day.

     [7]   The chairman of its coordinating committee, Juan Leon, said, "In the court system, the court secretaries throw our reports into the waste basket, and force us to sign papers without us even knowing our rights because they are not in our own languages.  There are hundreds of cases of violations that have gone unpunished.  Our sons are recruited by force."

     [8] These attacks also tend to paralyze action by the justice authorities.  The burning of the files of the Court at Santa Cruz del Quiché, where many cases of alleged human rights violations are in process.

     [9] As published in the press.  FBIS, November 16, 1993.

     [10] The proposed reforms approved by Congress on the basis of the agreement with the Executive, and which will be put to a referendum, call for reducing the terms of office for the president and vice-president and deputies, who will be elected for four years, reducing the number of congress people, expanding the number of judges on the Supreme Court from 9 to 13, for a term of five years, after being elected by congress, from a list to be proposed by the deans of the schools of law and the bar associations. (Cont.)


(Cont.)  The reforms also call for changes in administrative controls over the financial area.  The reforms would go into effect 60 days after being approved by the citizens, and 15 days after this, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal would call for legislative elections to elect a new congress which would hold office until January 14, 1996, at which time the term of the present president, de Leon Carpio, would end.


          Participating in the referendum would be 4.5 million Guatemalans registered out of a total population of 9 million, of whom more than 60% are members of 23 indigenous ethnic groups.


     [11] See Chapter III on the PAC system, p. 16.

     [12] University rector, in an interview with the IACHR, September 9, 1993.

     [13] Siglo XXI, September 7, 1993.

     [14] The Commission recalls charges made during the 1980s which mentioned that campesinos who knew how to read and write--considered indicative of support for subversion--were the subjects of extra-judicial executions.

     [15] Pan American Health Organization, "Status of health in Guatemala and its trends," 1993.

     [16] PAHO, op. cit.

     [17] 60% of all people living in rural areas, spread among 20,017 localities, 87% of which have fewer than 500 inhabitants.

     [18] INTA report to the IACHR, September 1993.

     [19] (Update No. 23\93, p.4).

     [20] PAHO, "Guatemala, general situation of health and its trends," 1993.

     [21] In November 1993, the Minister of Labor stated that previous governments had failed to consider workers' rights for reasons of attracting foreign investment.  She stated, "Only the threat of being excluded from the General System of Preferences (the United States customs system) had awakened the authorities to importance of respecting laws pertaining to labor matters."

     [22] The Peasant Unity Committee (CUC) and the National Widows Coordination Office of Guatemala (CONAVIGUA) held a 22-day vigil in November at the Office of the OAS General Secretariat in Guatemala City as a way of calling attention to their request to disband the Voluntary Civil Defense Committees (the former PACs) of Joyabaj, Quiche and Colotenango, Huehuetenango.  This public expression occurred without incident and gave rise to many marches and public meetings.

     [23] Letter 97/S2-93, of September 20, 1993, from General Mario R. Enriquez M. to the chairman of the Commission.  The PACs operate pursuant to Degree Law 19-86 and under the command and coordination of the Ministry of Defense.  This decree institutes them as "organizations that are eminently civilian in nature and an expression of the available and mobilizable reserve."

     [24] IACHR Press Release.  Guatemala, September 10, 1993.

     [25] Since its first special report on Guatemala, the IACHR has stated in many individual resolutions published in its annual reports that the PACs (today the CDVC) have been sources of human rights violations.

     [26] In October 1993, for example, 50 campesinos from Chiantla, Huehuetenango, were taken into custody and tortured by local PAC members because they celebrated the anniversary of the October 20, 1944 revolution which deposed the dictator General Ubico.