Community Leader Killed
December 13, 2007
Felipe Alvarez, a COCODES community leader in Microparcelamiento El Naranjo in Esquintla, was murdered in the early morning of Saturday, December 8, 2007. Felipe left home to go work on his farm. Hours later his body was found by police. Felipe had been shot once in the head and three times in the back. GHRC believes that this murder is directly related to COCODES’ efforts to improve public security in their community.
Click here to send a message to Guatemalan authorities urging them to investigate the murder and bring the perpetrators to justice!
COCODES are local community structures that support the work of the municipal authorities. They were created by law in 2002 under provisions laid down in the 1996 Peace Accords to strengthen community democracy and participation.
The murder of Felipe is the most recent in a series of threats and attacks against COCODES in Microparcelamiento El Naranjo and its leaders. In 2004, the COCODES in Microparcelamiento El Naranjo was instrumental in achieving an agreement to suspend the sale of alcohol in the community after 9:00pm, in an attempt to reduce the presence of street gangs and lower the level of violence.
One bar reportedly refused to comply with the agreement even after a municipal judge ordered it to stop selling alcohol. In November 2004, the owner of the establishment was killed and three police officers wounded during an incident that took place after COCODES members called the police because of disorderly behavior emanating from the bar. The Public Prosecutor’s Office subsequently initiated prosecutions against the three police officers and the five COCODES members. In October 2007 the hearings were suspended after the private prosecutor filed a complaint against the tribunal.
In September 2005, COCODES member Moises Ajbal was killed by unknown assailants. In September 2006, Juan Jose Atz, then President of COCODES, was also murdered. With the homicide of Felipe Alvarez, only two members of COCODES remain alive. Therefore, GHRC believes that the lives of Juan Francisco Almira, president of COCODES in Microparcelamiento El Naranjo, and Manuel Antonio Aguita, member of COCODES, are in grave danger.
*NO LONGER ACCEPTING SIGNATURES*
[Information for this Urgent Action has been taken from Amnesty International’s Urgent Action 329/07, Fear for Safety. We appreciate their contributions!]