Guatemala- Another Victim?

September 25, 2007

You, Guatemala, are a fist and a fistful of American dust with seeds a small fistful of hope. Defend it, defend us ... because in the dark hours you were the honor, the pride, the dignity of the Americas. Pablo Neruda (1954) JanlFeb 1981 Alaide Foppa, feminist and human rights activist, was visiting her native country of Guatemala last December 19 when she and her driver, Leocadio Actin, were stopped by three masked men armed with machine guns. Accor- ding to Guatemala's most power- 41update * update * update * update Disappeared feminist professor and poet Alaide Foppa. ful labor organization, Foppa was kidnapped by the Intelligence Ser- vice (G-2) of the Guatemalan Army. What did the Army fear in Alaide Foppa, a 67-year-old university professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)? Although virtually unknown in the United States, Foppa is widely respected in Latin America. Her life weaves together many of the threads that make up the present-day Latin American tapestry. On her father's side, she is an Argentine of Italian ancestry, born in Spain. On her mother's side, Guatemalan. Raised in Guatemala, she was forced to leave that country more than twenty years ago when her hus- band, the director of Social Securi- ty under the progressive Arbenz government and a member of the Guatemalan Labor Party, was exiled to Mexico after a CIA- sponsored right-wing coup in 1954. Since then she has lived, worked and struggled in Mexico. At UNAM, Foppa became the first person in Latin America to teach a university course on women, and was a co-founder and editor of fem, Mexico's most respected feminist journal. A 42 writer, art critic and poet, Foppa has also produced more than 400 radio programs on women's liberation. It was for one of these programs that she recently con- ducted a series of interviews with peasant women in the Quiche region of Guatemala. El Quiche has been under fierce attack by the Guatemalan Armed Forces, as the center of an increasingly strong, indigeneous-based guer- rilla movement. Foppa's inter- views document forcefully the genocidal aims of the Guatemalan military. The Guatemalan government has implausibly attributed Foppa's kidnapping to "the minority of Guatemalan leftist trouble- makers," and has published no other information on her disap- pearance. Yet the International Committee for the Life of Alaide Foppa, which publishes a daily an- nouncement in the Mexican paper, Uno Mas Uno, unequi- vocally states, "We hold the Guatemalan government responsi- ble for her life." Although she grew up in a Guatemalan family of wealth and position, Alaide Foppa has worked tirelessly for the rights of the poor in her native country and, more Concerned people in the United States are urged by Foppa's supporters to send telegrams demanding the Guatemalan government ac- count for Foppa's whereabouts and end the repression against the Guatemalan people to: Presidente Romeo Lucas Gar- cia, Palacio del Gobierno, Guatemala. recently, El Salvador. According to statistics compiled by the Democratic Front Against Repres- sion in Guatemala, more than 2,000 people were assassinated by that country's extreme right paramilitary forces in the final three months of 1980. It is fervent- ly hoped that Alaide Foppa and Leocadio Acttn have not become part of that grim statistic. -Compiled in New York with in- formation from Graciela Duarte and the Comit6 de Ayuda por la Vida de Alaide Foppa (Mexico) and Elizabeth Weiner (New York).

Tags: Guatemala, Alaide Foppa, disappeared, feminism, repression

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