Family of disappeared Guatemalan journalist demands justice

Thirty years after Guatemalan journalist, writer and activist Alaíde Foppa was kidnapped, her family and journalism and human rights organizations on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010, went before Guatemala's Supreme Court to demand authorities investigate what happened to Foppa, according to IFEX. The family presented a statement to the court to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Nov. 25.

"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," the statement said. "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 Nunca Más (Never Again) campaign."

Foppa, a journalist, poet and defender of women's rights, was disappeared in December 1980, presumably by state forces, according to Cerigua. A lawsuit seeking justice was filed in Spanish courts in 1999.

ElPeriódico reports that Foppa was kidnapped shortly after returning from exile in Mexico to demand justice for the killing of her son, Juan Pablo Solórzano Foppa, in 1980. Another of her sons, Mario Solórzano Foppa, who was editor of the newspaper Nuevo Diario and director of the television news program Estudio Abierto, was gunned down in 1983. The bodies of Foppa and her sons have never been found, EFE said.

Foppa and her sons were disappeared during Guatemala's 36-year civil war that left more than 200,000 dead and 50,000 disappeared. The United Nations-sponsored Historical Clarification Commission blamed the government for 93 percent of war atrocities, and determined that "acts of genocide" were perpetrated against Guatemala's Maya population.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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