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Irma Flaquer Azurdia
October 16, 1980

IRMA FLAQUER, Guatemala.

She was a psychologist and journalist. At one time in her youth she had thought of becoming a lawyer, but she abandoned her law studies and decided to go into journalism, for more than 20 years occupying various posts in a number of newspapers and radio stations in Guatemala. Irma Flaquer Azurdia was recognized as “Favorite Daughter” of the city of Granado in 1975. Four years later she founded and headed the first Human Rights Commission in her country. At the same time she became a passionate activist in the Revolutionary Party.

Her critical pen brought her unpleasant reactions amid an agitated political climate, with violations on the part of paramilitary groups, the armed forces and guerrillas, arbitrary executions and forced disappearances. In that same period (1979) Irma was the victim of an attempt on her life, from which she miraculously escaped. That gave rise to her writing her book titled “A las 12:15, el Sol” (At 12:15 the Sun), in whose prologue she dedicated the work to “My dear murderer.”

But the following year she could no longer defend herself, when on October 16 a group of armed men traveling in two vehicles intercepted her automobile being driven by her son Fernando. It was late afternoon in Guatemala City. The shots killed the 24-year-old young man while she, a hood over her face, was pushed into a pickup truck which immediately sped off. In the violent uproar a man who had witnessed what was going on was executed by the assailants, who had gone after him for two blocks.

Nothing more was ever heard of Irma Flaquer. It was presumed she was killed in reprisal for her articles against corruption in the government of General Romeo Lucas and in the military of the time, oppression of local Indians and human rights violations.

There was no official effort to solve the case, it being argued that there had been no formal complaint. Her family members were threatened, they being ordered to forget the matter and leave the country. But her former husband, Fernando Valle, whom she had divorced in 1958 after just three years of marriage, demanded that the National Congress take action to solve the dual crime, citing three possible theories investigated shortly before by the IAPA and announced in the Hemisphere Conference “Unpunished Crimes Against Journalists” – that those responsible were guerrillas, the then Interior Minister Donaldo Alvarez or the Army.

The exhaustive investigation by the IAPA in Guatemala discounted the first two theories, concluding that “the staff of the Presidency, perhaps with the National Police chief, decided to abduct journalist Flaquer.” This work was endorsed by the Guatemalan Commission for Historic Clarification (CEH). On the basis of that investigation the IAPA made a submission to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in March 1997, insisting that the government had a responsibility. The CEH came to the conclusion that the responsible officials of the Guatemalan government had seriously failed in their duty to investigate and impose punishment for what had occurred, thus violating the right to justice.In 2000, the government acknowledged responsibility for her disappearance and granted moral damages and financial compensation to Irma Flaquer's family members. Still, impunity is ongoing until today.

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