From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 08:40:08


                             by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE--Three more Mayan Presbyterians in Guatemala have been 
threatened with death in the next 24 hours for their human rights work -- 
unless they leave the country. 
    Denominational officials in Louisville are pushing the president of 
Guatemala to protect Lucio Martinez of the Human Rights Office of 
Kaqchiquel Presbytery; Vitalino Similox, executive secretary of the 
Conference of Evangelical Churches of Guatemala (CIEDEG); and Blanca 
Margarita Valiente de Similox, president of the Kaqchiquel Presbytery in 
    "They [the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala 
(NEPCG)] are taking a stance that keeping quiet or leaving the country is 
not for them a faithful path ... and here is our call to be at their side 
too," said Julia Ann Moffett, coordinator for Central America in the 
Worldwide Ministries Division. 
    A military commissioner in the Chimaltenango region, Victor Roman, is 
charged with the assassination of a presbytery human rights worker and is 
now under investigation for the death of a Presbyterian minister, according 
to the Guatemalan Embassy in Washington, D.C.  Roman is free on bail. 
    Moffett said the NEPCG assumed a more passive role during the violence 
of the 1980s -- but has now said no callaremos, which means, "We will not 
be quiet."  She said the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is exploring how to 
send U.S. delegations to the Chimaltenango region to demonstrate how 
closely the international church is watching this situation. 
    An earlier letter from a paramilitary group, Jaguar Justiciero 
(translated to mean Jaguar Avenger) -- which has claimed responsibility for 
the torture and murder of the Rev. Manuel Saquic Vasquez in early July, and 
the fatal shooting of presbytery human rights worker Pascual Serech last 
August -- threatened 23 other church and human rights workers, telling them 
to stop pressing for trial in the Serech case and condemned foreign "help" 
for the work of Panabajal's human rights committee. 
    A Guatemalan embassy spokesman said the assassination charge facing 
Roman in the Serech case is more serious than homicide.  The attorney 
general's office has asked the judge who set Roman's bail cancel it and 
rearrest him, according to the embassy.  However, the attorney general's 
office may only request, not order, that action. 
    Any action may also be appealed. 
    New threats arrived by mail August 8 and turned words spoken in 
Saquic's memorial service: "We will not be afraid even if the earth is 
taken away," into taunts. It begins:  "We hope you are a man and do not 
repent or break up like Manuel did when he fell into our hands ..."  It 
concludes:  "You have 24 hours to leave the country; if not, you will be 
    Citing the complexities of Guatemala's 30-year conflict, Moffett told 
the Presbyterian News Service that threats might "very well continue" even 
if the accused military commissioner is jailed without bail. 
    Moffett said Presbyterians may contact international officials 
insisting on protection for those threatened and for full investigation 
into the kidnapping and deaths: 
    * President of Guatemala Ramiro de Leon Carpio:  FAX 502-2-535856; 
    * Ambassador of the United States in Guatemala, Ms. Marilyn McAfee: 
FAX 502-2-313885; 
    * Embassador of Guatemala in Washington, D.C., Edmond Mulet:  FAX 

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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