(AA) ++ GUATEMALAN UPDATE (Fr)

esperanto (lingvoj@lds.co.uk)
Sat, 21 Sep 1996 18:40:12 +0200


FREEDOM 21ST SEPTEMBER 1996

GUATEMALAN UPDATE

"GUATEMALA-STADT (rtr). The German pharmaceutical company Bayer
withdrew a controversial ad slogan in Guatemala. On Wednesday the general
manager of Bayer de Guatemala expressed his regret and spoke of a terrible
mistake. Bayer had advertised an insecticide spray using the slogan: "Sudden
Death is a German Speciality," a play on the "Golden Goal" of the German
football team against the Czech Republic. According to the general manager,=
a
young employee of an advertising firm was responsible for the slogan. Bayer
belonged at one time to the IG Farben consortium, which produced the=
Zyklon-B
gas used to murder Jews."

Der TAGESPIEGEL 16.8.96

For 33 years Guatemala has lived a diet of military regimes and 'death
squads'
(made up of soldiers and members of the police force acting on the orders of
their superiors). They razed 450 villages to the ground and executed 125,000
citizens; the total number of 'disappearances' came to 40,000 - the same as=
for
the rest of Latin America. The victims were unionists, farmers, grassroot
religious activists, journalists, teachers, lawyers, students, high school=
kids:
anyone suspected of 'subversion'... The misery and persecution has forced a
million into exile. The ruling classes moved further down the road of
militarisation in all sectors and parked thousands of peasants in fincas=
where
they were forced to cultivate new varieties of vegetable such as broccoli,
destined for the export market.
In 1991 Harvard University magazine published the enlightening words of=
the
ex defence minister General Hector Gramajo, 'From now on we will use=
violence
in a more intelligent way. We no longer need to suppress everyone to
accomplish our aim'.
During the administration of Ramiro de L_on Carpio (5/6/93 to 13/1/96)=
the
Mutual Aid Group (GAM) recorded 6,363 violations of the Human Rights
agreement. 2,324 of these were politically motivated, 360 were extra=
judicial
murder, 218 were kidnappings.
On 5th October 1995 26 fatassins invaded the village of X=DFman (in the
province of Alta Vera Paz) and killed 11 villagers one of whom was a boy=
aged
8. In January the supreme court decided that the trial of those who=
committed
these atrocities should be held in front of a civil tribunal in Cob=DFn. In
Guatemala
this precedent indicates a matter involving the military. Will those others
- who
are also guilty of unspeakable acts - also appear in court? In particular=
those
implicated in the kidnapping and murder of union delegates during the period
when Alvaro Arzu Irigoyen was in power (1986-1990)
The first negotiations between the National Revolutionary Union of=
Guatemala
(UNRG), which declared an unlimited cease-fire on 20th March 1996, and the
government broke down over the refusal of the latter to face up to radical=
land
reform. Amongst its list of demands the political wing of the UNRG has laid=
out
propositions with regard to sharing out the funds needed to ensure a lasting
peace. They insist on a significant cash injection for the health and=
education
sectors going hand in hand with a significant reduction in military
spending. For
Tania Palencia, one of those who produced the document, 'the structural
problems arise from these two facts: 85% of Guatemalans live in extreme
poverty and that economic development comes about exclusively according to
the demands of neo-liberalism... the state limiting itself to protecting the
market.'
Despite the signing (31/3/95) of an 'Agreement regarding the identity=
and
rights of indigenous people' the Indian majority continue to suffer from=
various
forms of discrimination. Mayans from various groupings along with the m_tis=
who
belong to the lowest social rungs have participated in the National
Co-ordination
of Peasant and Indigenous people (CONIC) which was founded 'shortly before
the events surrounding the 500th anniversary of pillage and repression'.=
CONIC
mobilises in favour of the rights and self-determination of minorities. 2.5%
of big
landowners - whites - own 70% of arable surfaces. In the provinces of
Huehuetenango, Retalhuleu, Alta Verapaz, Izabal, El P_ten and Quich_ there
are 3.8 million hectares of available agricultural land. One plot of 7=
hectares
would provide for each of the 470,000 families who need to make their living
this
way. In his acceptance speech of 14/1/96 the extreme conservative Alvaro=
Arzu
Irigoyen - who had been elected the previous Sunday - under the banner of=
the
Party of National Progress (PAN) promised to restrict the advantages enjoyed=
by
certain groupings and to fight against poverty. The PAN has an absolute=
majority
in the congress (43 out of 80 seats). The Democratic Front for a New=
Guatemala
got 7.7% of the vote on 12/11/95. Rosalina Tuyuc from the National Co-
ordination of Guatemalan Widows CONAVIGUA (with 10,000 members) and
Nineth Montenegro from the Mutual Aid group are 2 of the 6 deputies which=
the
FDNG - founded in July 1995 - chose to be sent to the National Assembly=
where
they try to influence the debate as the only alternative opposition. Along
with a
few others they are trying to free up funds for health, housing, improved
conditions for the worst off and get accepted new labour legislation.

Ren_ HAMM 22nd May 1996

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