An Urgent Letter About Guatemala
 To: mcguirkm@SLU.EDU
 Subject: Re:  Assasination of Bishop Gerardi
 Date: Tuesday, April 28, 1998 4:49 PM
 On April 26, 1998, two days after the Guatemalan Archbishop's Human
 Rights Office (ODHA) released a groundbreaking report detailing the
 country's history of human rights abuses, an unknown assailant brutally
 murdered the director of that office, Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi. 
 Bishop Gerardi, who served as the Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese
 of Guatemala, was beaten to death with a cement block in his garage at
 10:00 pm on Sunday night.  Bishop Gerardi was found dead several hours
 later.  Robbery is not considered a possible motive as several items of
 value remained on his person. 
 The Bishop, in addition to founding and directing the ODHA, was the
 coordinator of the interdiocesan project for the Recovery of the
 Historic Memory (REMHI).  On April 24, in a public ceremony held in the
 Guatemala City cathedral, the REMHI project released the results of its
 three year investigation of human rights abuses committed during the
 war.  The report, called "Never Again," documented and analyzed more
 than 55,000 cases of human rights violations, and determined that the
 Guatemalan army was responsible for at least 80 percent of those acts. 
 The Guatemalan Catholic Church has stated that the assassination of
 Bishop Gerardi is a severe blow to the peace process and demanded that
 the government of President Alvaro Arzu give a full accounting of the
 murder within 72 hours. 
 The murder of Bishop Gerardi brought widespread condemnation from
 Guatemalan civil society leaders and human rights organizations. 
 According to Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu, the assassination of
 Bishop Gerardi is a warning that "the situation has not changed. 
 Impunity continues and murderers still walk the streets freely and act
 when they want." 
 Menchu also stated that for her "there is no doubt that the
 assassination of Bishop Gerardi is a political crime." 
 For more information contact the Network in Solidarity with the People
 of Guatemala (NISGUA): 
 Phone: 202-518-7638 Fax: 202-223-8221 Email: WWW:
 1.  Call the Guatemalan Embassy in the United States (202-745-4952, ext
 101) and demand that the government take the following actions: 
 - Conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the attack - Pass
 the constitutional reforms of the army agreed to in the peace accords -
 Make public all government and army documents relating to human rights
 2. Call your local newspapers, and radio and tv stations and ask to
 speak to the editor for international news.  Urge the editor to run any
 wire stories they receive about this attack. 
 3.  Call the White House (202) 456-1111 and your Representative and
 Senators (202) 224-3121. Ask them to: 
 - Make a statement denouncing the assassination
 - Support the Human Rights Information Act (H.R. 2635 and S.1220).  If
 your Representative or Senators have not signed onto this bill, urge
 them to do so now.  Tell them that declassifying U.S. government
 documents is one of the most important things they can do to help end
 the culture of impunity in Guatemala.  Call NISGUA or visit our website
 if you need more information on this bill.  Tell the President to
 declassify all human rights documents immediately. 
 Hold a vigil.  Communities in Washington, DC and New York are organizing
 candlelight vigils this week to honor the memory and work of Bishop
 Gerardi.  (The Washington vigil will take place on Thursday, April 30 at
 6:30 p.m. at St. Aloysius Church, 900 North Capitol St., NW). 
 Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. 
 Please let us know of any events or actions you are planning. 
 This alert prepared by NISGUA.  April 28, 1998. Email: