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Los Angeles demonstration against U.S. aid to El Salvador JIM CROGAN tion campaign. They provided information to the press and scholars in the United States and England where she had previously worked and studied. Myrna Mack’s colleagues cooperated with international humanrights organizations, including a “special expert on human rights” commissioned by the United Nations. They met with visiting delegations from foreign governments, including a U.S. Congressional delegation, and assisted in an international campaign to purchase some 40 ads in Guatemalan newspapers. Their work kept the pressure on the Guatemalan government and as recently as August it seemed that Ms. Mack’s killers would be brought to justice. First, word leaked that one of Ms. Mack’s assassins had been identified. Then, according to a story published in the Guatemala City daily, Siglo Veintiuno, Jose Miguel Merida Escobar, the chief of the homicide division of the National Police, had told judicial authorities that: “There is evidence of a cover-up and participation of senior military officials in the killing of Myrna Mack…” Merida Escobar, according to the human rights office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala City, also had told his superiors he would continue to work on the case only if he were later provided safe conduct from the country for him and his family. He identified Noel de Jesus Beteta Alvarez, a sergeant-major in the presidential security section of the Guatemalan army as one of Ms. Mack’s assailants. Mr. Merida Escobar’s request for protection came too late. The Catholic human-rights organization released the confidential information because on August 6, Mr. Merida Escobar was shot to death a few meters from the central offices of the national police in downtown Guatemala City. The church human-rights group also asked for support from the international community, and for protection for the family and colleagues of Ms. Mack and police investigator Julie Cesar Perez Incajop, who is also investigating the killings. Sergeant Betota Alvarez, according to Siglo Veintiuno, is reported as “being disappeared.” In the sad grammar of Guatemala, “being disappeared” often means “dead.” In the series of articles that followed Mr. Merida Escobar’s killing, Siglo Veintiuno also reported that a former agent of the National Police, Jesus Guerra Galindo, was taken into custody and alleged to be the killer of Merida Escobar. So a year after she died, the investigation into Myrna Mack’s killing continues, with the focus shifting to the assassination of Mr. Merida Escobar perhaps the first police officer in Guatemala’s history to die a human-rights martyr. The Myrna Mack investigation has also focused attention on President Jorge Serrano’s inauguration-speech promise to “punish the guilty, regardless of their rank, authority, or wealth.” But president Serrano, the second elected president since civil government was restored to Guatemala in 1984 after 30 years of military dictatorship, has to contend with an army known to be resistant to civilian control. The president, yet to complete a year in office, might have the will, but it is unlikely that he has the power to go it alone. “The armed forces,” U.N. human rights investigator Christian Tomuschat concluded in January, “constitute an independent power center which is not simply subordinated to the civilian government.” The Myrna Mack case has become a test of President Serrano’s commitment, and the extent of his control over the army and perhaps even his own security forces. And Myrna Mack Chang, like Chico Mendes of Brazil, has become an international symbol: to many, she has come to represent the tens of thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings who have died in Guatemala with no one to later demand that assassins be brought to justice. Seventy thousand Guatemalans have been killed by the military or security forces during the past 30 years, according to Edgar Guitierrez of AVANCSO. The killing continues. Last year, according to the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission, 170 died in extrajudicial executions. Another non-governmental group, the Guatemalan Justice and Peace Committee, claims that the figure is 1,055. More recent figures are equally discouraging. During the first six months of President Serrano’s administration, the human rights office of Guatemala City’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese documented 99 disap pearances, 181 extrajudicial executions, and 38 registered complaints of intimidation or threats in a country of 9 million. No one is ever held responsible. According to U.N. human rights investigator Tomuschat: “The few individuals brought to justice on charges of involvement in disappearances, torture, or summary executions, have in the end gone unpunished….” LOUIS DUBOSE Former Observer editor Louis Dubose lives in Gerona, Spain. Research on this article was done by Elena Stoupignan. Senate, Bush, Squabble over Aid to El Salvador When the U.S. Senate recently approved its first new foreign aid authorization bill in five years, it included one important omission: no mention of aid to El Salvador. Unquestionably, it was the intensity of the fight over continued military support for that country’s I 1-year civil war which forced the Senate to postpone consideration of all aid to El Salvador in order to pass this $28 billion-plus package for fiscal years 1992 and 1993. The real surprise, however, was the Senate’s resilience in the face of intense lobbying pressure from the Bush administration, which included a filibuster led by Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and other hardline conservatives. The battle over continued military aid for El Sal THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15