Guatemala Human Rights Commission/ USA
Disappearance of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen
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Disappearance of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen

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On October 6, 1981, Guatemalan military officers forcefully removed Marco Antonio Molina from his home, deaf to his mother’s desperate pleas. He was just fourteen years old.

Marco Antonio’s kidnapping was related to the illegal detention of his sister, Emma Guadalupe, who was a young student and activist at the time. While traveling from Guatemala City to Quetzaltenango on September 27th, soldiers captured and illegally detained her at Manuel Lisandro Barilas military base. For nine days, she suffered torture, rape, and deprivation of food and water. She managed to escape the base on October 6th. The military took her brother just a day later, as revenge for her escape.

Marco’s parents and sisters have never learned the whereabouts of their son, despite years of searching that continued even after they were forced to flee Guatemala. In 2004 – 23 years after Marco Antonio’s disappearance – their case was finally heard at the Inter-American Court of Human rights. The Court ruled that the Guatemalan government had to take all necessary steps to return Marco Antonio’s remains to his family, as well as to clarify the circumstances of his death and hold the perpetrators responsible.



October 5, 1981 – Emma Guadalupe Molina escapes from the military base through a window after a nine-day illegal detention

October 6, 1981 – Marco Antonio Molina Theissen is forcibly removed from his home by three armed men.

March 31, 1984 – The family flees to Ecuador as refugees

September 8, 1998 – The Center for Justice and International Law and the Mutual Support Group submit a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of Marco Antonio’s family.

November 6, 2003 – the State submits objections to the petition, claiming Court does not have jurisdiction due to the timing of the alleged disappearance, that the victims do not have legal standing, and that their domestic remedies have not been exhausted.

December 3, 2003 – the Court rules that the State must pay reparations to the family, find the perpetrators responsible, and locate Marco Antonio’s remains to be returned to his family

January 6, 2016 – four military officers are arrested for their involvement in Marco Antonio’s disappearance

January 11-13, 2016 – The judge in the first hearing rules that there is sufficient evidence to indict the arrested officers, and they are ordered to be held in pretrial detention