Letter to the Guatemalan Ambassador to Canada from the CCCB Human Rights Committee

Tuesday, April 02 2002

Ambassador Carlos Humberto Jiménez
Guatemalan Ambassador to Canada
130 Albert St.,
Suite 1010,
Ottawa, ON
K1P 5G4


I write to express our concern as we receive continuing reports of death threats being made against the Bishop of San Marcos, Monsignor Alvaro Ramazzini, and one of his priests, Father Juan José Aldaz. Remembering the 1998 assassination of Monsignor Juan Gerardi as a result of the publication of the Guatemala: Nunca Más report, we are dismayed that the defence of human rights by Guatemalan Christians continues to be a dangerous ministry.

We were shocked to hear that the offices of the diocesan Comisión Pastoral de la Tierra were ransacked on March 15, that death threats have been received at the diocesan radio station, and that the Chamber of Agriculture has made incendiary and unfounded accusations against Monsignor Ramazzini. We share the sentiment of the Guatemalan Bishops Conference in their public statement of concern and support for the bishop and the land pastoral offices. The social conflict in San Marcos is the result of the lack of land for poor families as well as the massive firings and lack of respect for minimal labour standards in the plantations of the region, rather than a result of the actions of the Church’s human rights work.

We ask you, Excellency, to inform us of the actions your government will take to ensure that the legitimate ministry of the bishop and the entire Church in the San Marcos diocese can proceed without threat or hindrance.

Sincerely yours,

+Most Rev. Jean Gagnon
Auxiliary Bishop of Québec, Apostolic Administrator of Gaspé
Chairman, Human Rights Committee
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Cc Hon. Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada