The CCCB is calling on the President of Guatemala to assure the security of the Bishop of San Marcos

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In a letter sent to Mr. Alvaro Colom, President of the Republic of Guatemala, Archbishop Roger Ébacher, Chairman of the CCCB Human Rights Committee, is expressing concern over death threats against Most Reverend Alvaro Ramazzini, Bishop of San Marcos, and his associates.

His Excellency Mr. Alvaro Colom
President of the Republic of Guatemala
Casa Presidencial, 6a Avenida, 4-18, Zona !
Ciudad de Guatemala
FAX : #011 502 2383 8390

Your Excellency:

We wish to express our grave concern regarding the continuing reports of death threats against Most Reverend Alvaro Ramazzini, Bishop of San Marcos, and his collaborators in the Diocese of San Marcos. These latest death threats are a repetition of those uttered against him over the course of the last few years which resulted in interventions to Guatemalan governmental authorities by our Human Rights Committee in 2002 and again in 2005. We recall the assassination of Bishop Juan Gerardi, in 1998, following the publication of the report “Guatemala: Nunca Más”, and are distressed to note the dangerous conditions under which the Christians of Guatemala carry out their ministry as defenders of human rights.

We were astonished to learn of the communiqué of 31 March 2008 by the Diocese of San Marcos, indicating a religious had been intimidated by a group of individuals into transmitting their death threats against Bishop Ramazzini. These threats are unacceptable; the security of Bishop Ramazzini and his collaborators must be assured.

We know Bishop Ramazzini well and also his involvement in promoting human rights and a healthy environment, within the context of activities in Guatemala by Canadian mining companies, particularly Goldcorps Inc., otherwise known as Glamis Gold. We welcomed Bishop Ramazzini to Canada and heard of the impact of the mining activities in Guatemala. Moreover, our Committee for Human Rights on 17 December 2005, through the then Chairman, Most Reverend Blaise Morand, sent a letter expressing the concerns of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops about decisions by the Government of Guatemala regarding the conditions in which the Marlin gold and silver mines were authorized to operate. We echoed the concerns of Bishop Ramazzini and other community leaders, in the hope that the proposals for development would respond to the needs and profound aspirations of the people of San Marcos and also respect the environment.

In spite of these repeated calls for the respect of fundamental rights and the environment, the mining activities continue without consideration for those who must suffer the consequences, including Bishop Ramazzini whose life is in danger.

Given these profound concerns, the Committee for Human Rights of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is calling on your government and the security services of your country to undertake an inquiry and assure the security of Bishop Ramazzini and his collaborators in the Diocese of San Marcos who are under death threat.
We look forward to your response with regards this urgent request.

Please accept, Mr. President, my highest regards.
Sincerely in Our Lord,
+  Most Reverend Roger Ébacher
Archbishop of Gatineau
Chairman of the Committee for Human Rights of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

c.c. :  Manuel Estuardo Roldan Barillas, Ambassador of the Republic of Guatemala to Canada
Mr. Kenneth M. Cook, Canadian Ambassador to Guatemala

Last Updated on Thursday, April 24 2008  
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