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CERIGUA demands inquiry into journalist's disappearance

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - 23 November 2010 - The family of Alaíde Foppa, along with CERIGUA and other organisations, will be presenting the following statement to the Guatemalan Supreme Court of Justice on 24 November 2010. Guatemalan journalist and writer Alaíde Foppa was kidnapped thirty years ago and has been missing since then. On the occasion of 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Foppa's family and Guatemalan human rights organisations will demand that the authorities launch an inquiry and identify both the masterminds and those who carried out the crime.

24 November 2010

Where is Alaíde Foppa?

Alaíde Foppa is a Guatemalan poet, journalist, academic and women's rights activist. She lived in Mexico for many years, having fled there with her life partner, Alfonso Solórzano Fernández, who was wanted by the Guatemalan authorities. On 19 December 1980, soon after Foppa returned to Guatemala, she was detained and then "disappeared" by the State security forces.

CERIGUA recalls that at the time, Guatemala was living under one of the worst dictatorships, which resulted in thousands of disappearances and extrajudicial executions. As such, it is possible that individuals linked to powerful interests may have been behind Foppa's disappearance.

Foppa was abducted near the Placita Quemada craft market in Zone 1, Guatemala City. The journalist was in a vehicle owned by her mother, Julia Falla, which was being driven by Leocadio Ajtún Shiroy. The chauffeur also disappeared that day.

Thirty years have passed since that fateful day. On 2 December 1999, a case was opened at a Spanish tribunal, the Audiencia Nacional de España. However, similar efforts in Guatemala have been fruitless, and to this day, the authorities have not launched an inquiry nor has anyone been arrested in connection with the disappearance. On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Solórzano Foppa family and the Mutual Support Group (Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo, GAM), an organisation for the relatives of the disappeared, have decided to file a motion for habeas corpus. They are supported by a number of organisations that work on human rights, women's issues, or on behalf of the "disappeared".

CERIGUA and the family hope this appeal will prompt the government to launch an investigation into Foppa's disappearance and those who were responsible for her abduction. Subsequently the petitioners will call for a special inquiry process so that a thorough analysis can be carried out and the authorities can identify both the perpetrators and the instigators of the crime.

Even though three decades have passed since Foppa's abduction, those who were responsible and who are still alive must be identified, brought to trial and sentenced. If we want a democratic Guatemala, one where the state protects its citizens rather than persecutes them, then we cannot allow crimes committed in the recent past to remain unpunished. We have to fight for justice and an end to impunity. This is the only way that we will be able to ensure a better future and that crimes like this will never again be committed, in accordance with the Never Again (Nunca Más) campaign.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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    (CERIGUA/IFEX) - On 25 February 2008, during an event marking National Victims' Day, President Álvaro Colom broached the possibility of declassifying a number of military documents that would shed light on the fate of thousands of Guatemalans who disappeared during the years of internal armed struggle in the country. The president said his initiative is supported by a number of high-ranking military officers.



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