Persecution of Guatemalan Christian Democratic Party members by the People's Guerrilla Army (Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres - EGP) [GTM0246]

After the election of President Vinicio Cerezo, the number of human rights violations were reported to have dropped, but disappearances and killings increased . . . . According to research, the increase in violence resulted from, among other reasons, the renewed activity of the guerrilla groups.1 The number of killings in which a political motive could not be ruled out declined in 1987. Estimates of the number of such cases, based on available official statistics, declined to 83 for the months of January to November 1987, as compared to 126 for the same period in 1986. It is unknown how many of these deaths were, in fact, actually politically motivated or, if so, which group or faction was responsible. 2

Homicides attributed to common crime continued at a high rate in 1987, including cases of suspected vigilante justice by private citizens. According to National Police statistics, in the first eight months of 1987, one thousand and eighty three murders occurred, an average of one hundred and fourty-eight a month, slightly below the 1986 average of one hundred and fifty-three a month. Reported cases of assault with intent to kill rose from an average of four hundred and twenty-four a month in 1986, to six hundred a month in 1987. This rise in crime has been attributed in part to the activities of many unemployed ex-soldiers and bodyguards trained in the use of arms. Some observers continue to cite the high rate of criminal violence in Guatemala as a basis for charges that political killings continue unabated.3

Though no specific information regarding government protection for Christian Democrat leaders could be found, we include the following reported cases for your information:
On December 1, 1986, the body of Celso López Jop, a press secretary of the Christian Democratic Party (DC) was discovered with marks consistent with torture. Local party leaders were reported as stating that his assailants were members of the National Police. Other, important party leaders, called it "a political crime." 4
Christian Democratic Congressman Victor Vicente Moscoso Machorro was killed in August 1987, in what appears to have been an internal party struggle. A former bodyguard of the mayor of Jocotan, also a member of the Christian Democratic Party, was arrested and charged with murder. In the past year, in the city of Jocotan, the murders of a union leader and two city councilmen were also attributed to party infighting.5
In January, 1989, the previously unknown Revolutionary Urban Commando (Comando Revolucionario Urbano - CUR) organization, sent communiques to the media, saying it would "punish the assassins", and submitted to the press a list of military officers and civilians whom they "have in their sights."6 The CUR stated it supports the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca - URNG).7
The URNG comprises four guerrilla groups: People's (or Poor People's) Guerrilla Army (Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres - EGP), Revolutionary Organization of the People in Arms (ORPA), Rebel Armed Forces (FAR) and the Guatemalan Communist Party - Nucleus (PCGT-N).8

1. Bulletin, Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA (Washington, May/June 1988), p. 2.


Country Reports for Human Rights Practices for 1987, U.S. Department of State (Washington, 1988), pp. 494-495.

Country Reports, p. 495.

Human Rights in Guatemala After President Cerezo's First
Year, Americas Watch (Washington, 1987), pp. 33.

Country Reports, p. 495.

Latin America daily report, Foreign Broadcast Information Service (Washington: FBIS), January 30, 1989, p. 22.

Ibid., p. 22.

Human Rights in Guatemala, p. 55.