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Jennifer Harbury CARMEN GARCIA LAS AMERICAS Disappeared in Guatemala BY LOUIS DUBOSE Austin ALMOST ONE YEAR AGO Jennifer Harbury stood in a cemetery in a village in Southwest Guatemala, waiting as two local men dug up one of several unmarked graves. She was accompanied by a Guatemalan forensic physician from the Guatemalan Human Rights Office, Austin civil rights lawyer James Harrington and Houston human rights activist Frances “Sissy” Farenthold. Harrington and Farenthold had accompanied Harbury as observers. She was attempting to confirm that the man buried in the unmarked grave was Efrain Bamaca Velasquez her husband. . A year later, Harbury still does not know who was in the grave in Retalhuleu. In legal proceedings before an Organization of lawyer, explained why: “[We] arrived in Guatemala the day before the scheduled exhumation and presented our documentation to Mr. De Leon Carpio of the Human Rights office. The next day, a forensic physician from that office accompanied us to the town of Retalhuleu, where we all met briefly with the local judge. The judge and his assistant, the forensic physician and the four of us then proceeded to the cemetery, to a small space behind the morgue. Two local workers began digging up one of several small, unmarked graves, and as they worked a number of armed policemen began to arrive, filling up the small area. They stated that some members of the army would also be arriving shortly. When the workers reached the body bag, they requested ropes to haul it to the surface, and the physician began arranging his medical equipment and putting on his rubber gloves. At that moment an official car came to a screeching halt next to the morgue and a middle-aged, heavy-set man in an expensive suit came rushing across the yard, shouting to us to halt the proceedings. He was red in the face and was in such a hurry that he trampled over one of the graves.” The heavy-set man was Asisclo Valladares, the attorney general of Guatemala, and he angrily explained to Harbury and a local judge why the exhumation could not take place despite months of petitioning the Guatemalan government and the official permission of the Guatemalan \(governmenRamiro De Leon Carpio. One of a number of reasons the exhumation could not take place, the attorney general said, was because foreigners were present. And, because there was no one present who could actually “identify the body,” although the forensic doctor said that the body would be too badly decomposed to identify visually. Because of the danger of admitting she was married to a high-ranking officer in the guerrilla movement, Harbury could not disclose that the man the army said was in the grave was her husband. Although the Americans offered to leave so the procedure could continue, Valladares gave the order to cancel the exhumation and re-bury the body, telling the doctor that another date would be set. The doctor promised Harbury an autopsy report, complete with forensic photos and dental plates. No date was ever set, and to her knowledge, no exhumation ever took place. To this day she does not know if the body in the plastic bag in the unmarked grave is that of her husband. She has reason to suspect that it is not. Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, the man to whom Commandante Everardo, A self-taught Mayan campesino, Bamaca joined the guerrilla movement 17 years ago. In March 1992 he was reported as wounded in a confrontation with the Guatemalan army. Army officials later announced that he had shot himself through the mouth to avoid being captured alive, and that his body was buried in Retalhuleu. But two guerrillas, who have told international human rights organizations that they escaped clandestine government prisons, have reported that Bamaca was alive after the army listed him as dead; one reported seeing him as late as July of last year in a clandestine prison camp in Guatemala. Harbury, a Harvard Law School graduate, arrived in Guatemala after working as a law clerk for federal Judge William Wayne Justice and later as a Texas Rural Legal Aide workers at TRLA in the early ’80s, Harbury said, she noticed an increase in Guatemalan refugees arriving in the United States. Concerned about the lack of information, which made asylum claims other attorneys were filing on behalf of Guatemalans almost 16 APRIL 9, 1993