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Cable 826: Two Community Activists Murdered in Guatemala

Cable 826: Two Community Activists Murdered in Guatemala

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Published by Andres
This is a 2008 US embassy report providing background information on two separate murder cases involving community activists targeted by death squads in Guatemala.
This is a 2008 US embassy report providing background information on two separate murder cases involving community activists targeted by death squads in Guatemala.

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Published by: Andres on Jan 04, 2012
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11/18/2013

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P 122213Z AUG 08FM AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5906UNCLAS GUATEMALA 001030SUBJECT: TWO CIVIL SOCIETY LEADERS MURDERED
¶1. (U) On August 7, Edvin Portillo, treasurer ofthe Pension Administration Board and member of theport workers union of the National Santo Tomas PotCompany (Empornac), was shot and killed by twounidentified assailants in Puerto Barrios, Izabal.Portillo, who was recently elected president of thewater committee of his neighborhood El Manantial,was to take office August 10. According to a unionmember, Portillo had been collecting signatures fora petition opposing the new assistant to the DeputyDirector of Maritime Operations, and the workerswere to present the petition to port authorities onthe day of the shooting. In October 2007, AnacletoAragon was similarly killed a few days before hewas to take office as president of the El Manantialwater committee. The Attorney General's Officeplans to investigate two hypotheses -- oneconnecting the killing to Portillo's unionactivities, the other involving his water committeeactivities.¶2. (U) On August 7, in an unrelated incident a daybefore the International Day of Indigenous Peoples,indigenous community leader Antonio Morales was
 
shot and killed by unidentified assailants in frontof his home in Tixel in Colotenango, Huehuetenango.Morales was reportedly shot four times. He hadrecently received death threats from criminalgroups operating in the region. Morales, a memberof the Committee of Peasant Unity (CUC), was knownas an activist for indigenous rights, in particulardefending natural resources and opposing miningprojects in Huehuetenango. He served as FirstCouncilman of Colotenango Municipality. On June23, Colotenango passed a community referendum,becoming one of 26 municipalities to reject miningin its jurisdiction.¶3. (SBU) NGO Human Rights Legal Action Center(CALDH) Executive Director Mario Minera told polffthat Morales (a supporter of the GuatemalanNational Revolutionary Unity party which hasopposed mining) began receiving death threats fromformer members of the Civil Action Patrol (PAC)after stepping down from his Council position.Minera condemned the killing and called on theAttorney General's Office, which he claimed did notsend a representative to the crime scene, toconduct a thorough investigation. He also urgedthe GOG to guarantee the security of those whodefend and promote human rights.¶4. (SBU) Comment: These murders are the latest ina series of violent actions against laboractivists. While the motives for these killingsremain unclear pending investigation, impunity andrampant violence continue to affect all sectors ofGuatemalan society. Human rights leaders arehopeful that the recent change in leadership at the

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