Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September 2014, 13:28 GMT

Guatemala: Information on the National Unity Front (FUN), including its leaders, whether its members were threatened during the 1996 elections, and the availability of state protection to FUN members, 1996-1997

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 September 1997
Citation / Document Symbol GTM27770.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Guatemala: Information on the National Unity Front (FUN), including its leaders, whether its members were threatened during the 1996 elections, and the availability of state protection to FUN members, 1996-1997, 1 September 1997, GTM27770.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ace030.html [accessed 19 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

In an 18 September 1997 telephone interview with the DIRB, the National Unity Front (FUN) secretary-general in Guatemala City stated that several FUN members received death threats by phone during the November 1995 presidential elections.  Some subsequently fled to the United States because of the death threats and have not returned (ibid.). The secretary-general further stated that a bomb exploded near his home during the elections, but added that since the signing of the peace accords in December 1996, the political climate has improved and has become calmer (ibid.). Additional and/or corroborating information on whether FUN members were threatened during the 1995 elections could not be found among the sources consulted by the DIRB.

Central America Report, the Political Handbook of the World and Prensa Libre state that former national defense minister Hector Alejandro Gramajo was the FUN and Democratic Institutional Party (PID) 1995 presidential candidate (1 Dec. 1995, 6; 1997, 333; 21 May 1995). The Central America Report article adds that Gramajo finished tenth, with 18,060 votes or 1.17 per cent of ballots cast in the 12 November 1995 elections       (1 Dec. 1995, 6). The Europa World Year Book 1997 states that Colonel Enrique Peralta Azurdia and Gabriel Girón Ortiz are the current FUN leaders (1997, 1494).

Several reports state that Gramajo was responsible for many crimes against Guatemalan citizens when he was minister of defense (The Boston Globe 2 May 1996; The Nashville Banner 1 May 1997; La Republica 17 Apr. 1995). The Boston Globe and La Republica articles add that a Boston Federal Court sentenced Gramajo to pay $47.5 million in compensation to an American nun, Diana Ortiz, and nine Guatemalans who suffered human rights abuses under Gramajo's command as defense minister (2 May 1996; 17 Apr. 1995). The same reports state that Gramajo refused to pay the group any compensation (ibid.). Please consult both articles for additional information on Gramajo's involvement in human rights violations and sentence.

FUN leader Colonel Enrique Peralta Azurdia's 19 February 1997 death is reported in a 1 March 1997 Guardian report and 20 February 1997 Reuters article. The articles state that Peralta led the 1963 military coup and governed Guatemala until 1966 (ibid.). Both reports add that Peralta had a disregard for human rights and that his government began the first counterinsurgency efforts against leftist guerrilla groups (ibid.).

Information on state protection available to threatened FUN members could not be found among the sources consulted by the DIRB.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

The Boston Globe. 2 May 1996. City Edition. Bob Hohler. "Guatemala Figure Tied to Army School; Rep. Kennedy Urges Closing Facility." (NEXIS)

Central America Report [Guatemala City]. 1 December 1995. Vol. 22, No. 46. "Official Results."

The Europa World Year Book 1997. 1997. 38th ed. Vol. 1. London: Europa Publications.

Frente de Unidad Nacional (FUN), Guatemala City. 18 September 1997. Telephone interview with the secretary-general.

The Guardian [London]. 1 March 1997. Richard Gott. "Obituary: General Enrique Peralta Azurdia: The Iron Fist of Guatemala." (NEXIS)

La Republica [Guatemala City, in Spanish]. 17 April 1995. "Former Defense Minister on U.S. Suit." (FBIS-LAT-95-077 21 Apr. 1995, pp. 15-16)

The Nashville Banner. 1 May 1997. Final Edition. David Bordenkircher. "Close Doors of Army School That Props Up Latin Dictators." (NEXIS)

Political Handbook of the World 1997. 1997. Edited by Arthur S. Banks. Binghamton, NY: CSA Publications.

Prensa Libre [Guatemala City, in Spanish]. 21 May 1995. "Former Minister Denies Journalist's Charges of CIA Ties." (FBIS-LAT-95-099 23 May 1995, p. 24)

Reuters. 20 February 1997. BC Cycle. "Guatemala Ex-Ruler Gets Reluctant Funeral Honors." (NEXIS)

Attachments

The Boston Globe. 2 May 1996. City Edition. Bob Hohler. "Guatemala Figure Tied to Army School; Rep. Kennedy Urges Closing Facility." (NEXIS)

The Guardian [London]. 1 March 1997. Richard Gott. "Obituary: General Enrique Peralta Azurdia: The Iron Fist of Guatemala." (NEXIS)

La Republica [Guatemala City, in Spanish]. 17 April 1995. "Former Defense Minister on U.S. Suit." (FBIS-LAT-95-077 21 Apr. 1995, pp. 15-16)

Prensa Libre [Guatemala City, in Spanish]. 21 May 1995. "Former Minister Denies Journalist's Charges of CIA Ties." (FBIS-LAT-95-099 23 May 1995, p. 24)

Reuters. 20 February 1997. BC Cycle. "Guatemala Ex-Ruler Gets Reluctant Funeral Honors." (NEXIS)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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