14 December 2015

Irma Flaquer Azurdia

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Place of birth: Guatemala City Age at time of death: 42 Marital status: Married in 1955 to Fernando Valle Avizpe; divorced in 1958 Children: (names and ages at time of mother's disappearance) Sergio Valle, 23, and Fernando Valle, 24. Fernando was murdered at the time she was kidnaped. Education: Graduated with a degree in psychology after giving up law studies. Profession / occupation: Psychologist and journalist. At the time of her abduction was an editorial assistant at the daily La Nación and held various public offices. Journalism background: From 1958 worked as a freelance journalist for various newspapers and radio stations. That same year she began writing her column "What Others Don't Say" for the daily La Hora. From 1971 to 1980 she wrote that column for La Nación. While at La Nación, she briefly published her own magazine. Years as a journalist: 22 Awards and distinctions: "Favored Daughter" of the city of Granados, Guatemala, in 1975. Civic activities: In 1979 founded the first Human Rights Commission in Guatemala. Was active in the Revolutionary Party. Hobbies: Writing was her favorite leisure activity. Her reading preferences were classic novels. She liked aerobic exercise. She wrote a book, "At 12:15, the Sun," about an attack on her in 1979. In the prologue, she dedicated the book to "My dear murderer."

Place of birth: Guatemala City Age at time of death: 42 Marital status: Married in 1955 to Fernando Valle Avizpe; divorced in 1958 Children: (names and ages at time of mother's disappearance) Sergio Valle, 23, and Fernando Valle, 24. Fernando was murdered at the time she was kidnaped. Education: Graduated with a degree in psychology after giving up law studies. Profession / occupation: Psychologist and journalist. At the time of her abduction was an editorial assistant at the daily La Nación and held various public offices. Journalism background: From 1958 worked as a freelance journalist for various newspapers and radio stations. That same year she began writing her column "What Others Don't Say" for the daily La Hora. From 1971 to 1980 she wrote that column for La Nación. While at La Nación, she briefly published her own magazine. Years as a journalist: 22 Awards and distinctions: "Favored Daughter" of the city of Granados, Guatemala, in 1975. Civic activities: In 1979 founded the first Human Rights Commission in Guatemala. Was active in the Revolutionary Party. Hobbies: Writing was her favorite leisure activity. Her reading preferences were classic novels. She liked aerobic exercise. She wrote a book, "At 12:15, the Sun," about an attack on her in 1979. In the prologue, she dedicated the book to "My dear murderer."

History

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.

Case Summary

Date of murder: Oct. 16, 1980 (kidnaped, then dis-appeared). Where and how kidnaped: Several men traveling in two vehicles Intercepted the automobile in which Irma Flaquer and her son Fernando were riding at around 7:30 p.m in Guatemala City. The son was shot and mortally wounded, dying later in the hospital; Flaquer was forced into a station wagon that sped off. She was never seen again, either dead or alive. It is believed she was killed that same night. Possible motives: Reprisal for her articles spotlighting political repression by the government of Gen. Romeo Lucas García, corruption of public officials and military officers, oppression of the indigenous population and violations of human rights. Suspects: No one has been formally charged, tried or convicted in the murder of Fernando Valle Flaquer or the disappearance of Irma Flaquer. No one can now be brought to trial because of an amnesty for felonies committed before 1985. There are those who believe the crime resulted from a conspiracy among the military leadership, police and the government. Violent consequences: Flaquer's family members received anonymous death threats and some public officials warned them to forget the case and leave the country. Irregularities of the legal proceedings: Even if the government formally expressed its sadness at the supposed death of Flaquer, it offered few official resources to investigate it. The media published only official accounts of the crime for fear of reprisal. Members of the military and the government warned Flaquer's ex-husband and daughter-in-law that they would be killed if they continued to ask for an investigation.

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Previous investigation

Judicial Proceedings

Editorial assistant at the newspaper La Nación in Guatemala City. She also held a number of public offices.

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