DAILY CATHOLIC MONDAY November 9, 1998 vol. 9, no. 219
NEWS & VIEWS
GUATEMALA BEGINS EXAMINATION OF BISHOP MURDER INVESTIGATION WHILE NICARAGUA ASKS CHURCH TO DISTRIBUTE STORM AID
GUATEMALA CITY (CWNews.com) -- The attorney general of Guatemala has accepted a call from the Catholic Church for a complete appraisal of the investigation into the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi.
Acisclo Valladares Molina, the country's top-ranking jurist, has said that the task of investigating the state's prosecutors in the controversial case "is a great honor, and I accept, because I am committed to Guatemala." Although his inquiry will not directly affect the course of the prosecution -- insofar as he will be an independent investigator rather than a part of the government's prosecuting team -- the Molina mission is regarded as a critical one from the perspective of Catholic Church leaders, who have expressed misgivings about that prosecution.
Critics of the government have repeatedly charged that prosecutors are overlooking obvious leads in order to protect the country's military leaders, who are widely suspected of involvement in the bishop's death.
Meanwhile, in Managua, Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Aleman has asked Catholic Church leaders to supervise the distribution of relief supplies being sent to the Central American nation to help victims of hurricane Mitch. The move is a response to concerns that corrupt public officials might pirate some of the supplies for their own profit.
Government officials, recognizing that the Church is the most respected institution in the country, have put military helicopters at the disposal of Catholic officials, so that supplies can be conveyed to the villages cut off from transportation by floods and hurricane damage. The governments of Mexico and Panama have also sent several ships to help in the delivery of relief.
The Church faces a daunting challenge, since thousands of people remain isolated and homeless, and the shortage of food and safe drinking water threatens to cause an outbreak of epidemic diseases. To date, Nicaraguan officials have still not been able to make an accurate estimate of the casualties produced by the storm, although it is generally believed that at least 3,000 people have died.
In the west of the country, the situation is still further
complicated by the possibility of another natural disaster:
the Cerro Negro volcano has shown signs of activity, and
minor tremors have been felt in the earth around
Chinandega-- one of the areas hardest hit by the hurricane.
One local newspaper there concluded, "The poor people have
nothing to fall back on but their solidarity and their
Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
NEWS & VIEWS