South and Meso American Indian Rights Center

Rapid Response Alert

January 16, 1998

Issued by: NISGUA
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala
1830 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 223-6474
E-mail: nisgua@igc.apc.org,
http://www.scruz.net/~goyo/nisgua/rrn.html

Accused Killer Threatens Community in Guatemala

Background:

Residents of the community of El Sauce, El Estor, Izabal Department, have alerted international human rights organizations that they fear for their immediate safety. According to reports from Amnesty International and other sources, the man allegedly responsible for the death of a community member, Rosa Pec Chub, about a year ago (NISGUA Alert issued February 4, 1997), recently visited El Sauce, accompanied by several armed henchmen, and intimidated the community.

On January 24, 1997, Rosa Pec Chub, 57, was killed when scores of heavily armed individuals - private security guards and other employees of a local landowner - entered the community of El Sauce firing indiscriminately. Rosa Pec's son, Juan Rax Chub, was also injured in the attack and homes, crops and the community chapel were destroyed. Following local and international protests, arrest warrants were subsequently issued against the landowner, Luis Alfredo Ponce Cuz, who reportedly fired the shots that killed Rosa Pec and injured her son, and against several other men involved in the attack.

Local authorities have failed to enforce the arrest warrant issued against Luis Ponce and several others or prevent further harassment by him and his private security guards of the El Sauce community (the warrant was suspended for several months but then reactivated on Dec 8, 1997).

The land on which the El Sauce community lives is the property of the La Salle Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious order. Luis Ponce claims, however, that the land occupied by the community belongs to him, and on December 22, 1997 he filed charges against Jose Cajbon and others for "usurpation" with the local judge, despite Luis Ponce's open arrest warrant. The charges are the first step toward eviction of the community.

Before these latest developments, land activists and the church assisting them had planned a peaceful march against impunity for January 26, within two days of the anniversary of the El Sauce attack. Since protesters were attacked by the local town authorities the last time a peaceful protest was held (June 1995), local human rights workers have expressed serious concern for the safety of the marchers. Among their demands are: the immediate arrest of those responsible for the El Sauce attack and the killing of Rosa Pec Chub, the removal of the local judge and official of the court, and an official survey of the lands in dispute and the construction of roads.

Action Request:

Fax messages of concern to the following Guatemalan authorities:

Governor:
Sr. Gobernador Departamental de Izabal
7 Calle y 1 Avenida
Puerto Barrios, Izabal, GUATEMALA
Telefax: 011-502-948-0777 (if voice, ask me puede dar tono de fax, por favor')

District Attorney:
Lic. Ramon Garcia Stany
Ministerio Publico
Puerto Barrios, Izabal, GUATEMALA
Telefax: 011-502-948-1193 (if voice, ask me puede dar tono de fax, por favor')

Attorney General:
Lic. Hector Hugo Perez Aguilera
Fiscal General de la Nacion, Ministerio Publico
18 Calle 10-36, Zona 1, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: 011-502-331-7066

Minister of Interior:
Lic. Rodolfo Mendoza
Ministro de Gobernacion
Despacho Ministerial, Of. No 8
Palacio Nacional
6a Calle y 7a Avenida, Zona 1, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: 011-502-251-5368

Sample Message in English:

I write to express my deep concern about the safety of the residents of the El Sauce community, and about the lack of action in the investigation of the attack on El Sauce on January 24, 1997.

On January 24, 1997, scores of heavily armed private security guards and other employees of local landowner Luis Alfredo Ponce Cuz attacked the El Sauce community, El Estor, Department of Izabal. In the attack, Rosa Pec Chub, age 57, was killed, and her son Juan Rax Chub was injured, and homes, crops and the community chapel were destroyed.

Although arrest warrants were issued against the Luis Alfredo Ponce Cuz, who reportedly fired the shots that killed Rosa Pec and injured her son, and against several others involved in the attack, local authorities have failed to enforce the arrest warrant or prevent further harassment of the El Sauce community..

I demand that the government of Guatemala and the local authorities take immediate measures to ensure the safety of all the inhabitants of El Sauce and their supporters. I urge you to conduct a full and prompt investigation into the attack on El Sauce a year ago, and bring to justice those responsible. Also I ask you to take steps to prohibit and disband all private armies and paramilitary forces.

Respectfully,

Sample Message in Spanish:

Me dirijo respetuosamente a usted para expresarle mi profunda preocupacion en relacion a la seguridad de los residentes de la comunidad de El Sauce y la falta de acciones en la investigacion del ataque a El Sauce, ocurrido el 24 de enero de 1997.

El 24 de enero de 1997, gran numero de guardias de seguridad privados y otros empleados del terrateniente local, Luis Alfredo Ponce Cruz, atacaron la comunidad de El Sauce, en El Estor, departamento de Izabal. Durante el ataque fue asesinada Rosa Pec Chub, de 54 anos, y resulto herido Juan Rax Chub; tambien fueron destruidas casas, cosechas y la iglesia de la comunidad.

Aunque se emitieron ordenes de arresto contra Luis Alfredo Ponce Cruz, quien presuntamente disparo contra Rosa Pec y su hijo, y contra otras personas involucradas en el ataque, las autoridades locales no han ejecutado las ordenes de arresto y prevenido mas hostigamientos de la comunidad de El Sauce.

Reclamo al Gobierno de Guatemala y a las autoridades locales que tomen medidas inmediatas para garantizar la seguridad de todos los habitantes de El Sauce y sus simpatizantes. Le insto a que lleve a cabo inmediatamente una investigacion completa del ataque a El Sauce, ocurrido hace un ano, y que lleve a los responsables ante la justicia. Tambien le pido que tome medidas para la prohibicion y disolucion de todos los ejercitos privados y las fuerzas paramilitares que operan en la zona.

Atentamente,

Guatemala News and Information Bureau (GNIB)
PO Box 28594
Oakland CA 94604
phone/fax:510-835-0810
gnib@igc.apc.org

Que todo se levantan, que ni uno ni otro, se quede atras de los demas. --Pop Wuj

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