From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Volunteers Sought to "Accompany" Widow of

Date 04 May 1996 15:25:08


96061       Volunteers Sought to "Accompany" Widow of 
                  Guatemalan Death Squad Victim 
                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Presbyterians who are willing to accompany the threatened 
widow of a murdered Guatemalan pastor are asked to immediately contact the 
denomination's Office for Central America and the Caribbean, according to 
its coordinator, Julia Ann Moffett.  
     Moffett said constant surveillance of the home of Maria Francesca 
Saquic is under way in Guatemala City, where Saquic fled with her five 
children after her husband, the Rev. Manuel Saquic, was tortured and 
murdered last spring for his human rights work in the mountain town of 
     Manuel Saquic is the second Presbyterian to be killed in 
Chimaltenango. Though 5,000 wanted posters have been distributed and a 
$3,000 reward has been offered for the apprehension of his alleged killer, 
former Chimaltenango military commissioner Victor Roman remains a fugitive. 
     "I think we would use the word  stalking' here," said Moffett, 
describing what is happening to Saquic's widow. "Trucks and cars sit in 
front of her house. ... They're trying to scare her to death so the whole 
thing [the investigation into her husband's death] will be dropped.  
     "But she's an innocent bystander," said Moffett, adding that pressure 
for prosecution of Saquic's alleged killer is coming from Kaqchiquel 
     The National Evengelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala has 
requested accompaniment for Saquic for the next three months from the 
United Church of Canada (UCC), the Presbyterian Church of Canada and the 
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The UCC has one accompanier in place until 
February 22, according to Moffett. The PC(USA) has been asked to keep an 
accompanier in the Saquic home from February 22 through the end of March.  
     Moffett said accompaniers may be men or women who are able to speak 
Spanish and who are flexible and comfortable with children. 
     She said PC(USA) accompaniers' costs will be picked up by the Mission 
Volunteer Program and by Presbyterian World Service's disaster and 
emergency relief funds.  Accompaniers may serve two week cycles. 
     "I think what we're doing," said Moffett of accompaniment, "is saying 
to the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala -- and 
specifically to the widow Saquic -- that her life is important and that the 
threats that she is experiencing she doesn't have to experience alone. 
We're saying the same thing to those who are following her: She's not 
alone. ... " 
     Moffett said working as an accompanier in Guatemala is not without 
risk, but accompaniment has proven in the past to be effective in 
protecting individuals.  
     Church accompaniment of the Rev. Lucio Martinez of Chimaltenango ended 
in late December.  Martinez and two other presbytery members received death 
threats after pushing for prosecution in the Saquic murder case.  
     The Office of Central America and the Caribbean can be reached by 
calling Julia Ann Moffett at (502) 569-5316. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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