The Odyssey

Making a Difference
Trek Connect
Time Machine

Teacher Zone
Latin America
Making a Difference

More Making a Difference Activities

Help Protect Guatemala's Street Children!

WHERE? Guatemala City
WHAT? Sexual Abuse & Arbitrary Arrest
WHO? 24 Street Children, Aged 13-17

Lorena Carmen Hernandez Carranza (15)
Nery Mateo Hernandez (15)
Jenifer A. Gamez Ramirez (15)
Martha Julia Alvarez Paiz (16)
Judith Taraceba Paz (16)
Nancy P. Roldan M. (15)
Vilma Beatriz Talzal (17)
Sara M. Felipe Cortez (16)
Amelia Alejandra Lopez (16)
Jans Flores Quintanilla (17)
Juan Carlos Perez Guzman (17)
Leonel Perez Guzman (16)
Manel Estuardo Davila Juarez (17)
Carlos Enrique Monroy (17)
Jose Manolo Mendoza Ramirez (16)
Erick Rolando Lives Sanchez (17)
Luis Guillermo Ortiz Robles (17)
Vily Ricardo Sandoval Batres (17)
Raul Alexander Mendez (16)
Sep Ivan Daniel Banses Mendez (13)
Carlos Enrique Escobar (16)
Henry Yovanny Alvarez Reyes (16)
Henry Yovanny Maye (15)
Oscar Arturo Aleman (17)

On 2 February 1999, 22 street children, aged between 13 and 17, were detained and accused of 'public nuisance' by uniformed members of the Policia Civil Nacional (PCN) in Guatemala City. On 11 February, two other street children were beaten up and one of them was sexually abused, again by a member of the PCN.

According to reports, on 2 February 1999, around 6 pm, two police patrol cars suddenly arrived at an abandoned building in central Guatemala City, where street children sleep. The police apparently accused the children of causing a 'public nuisance' and arrested the 8 girls and 14 boys. They were tried before a judge and without a lawyer to represent them. The judge sent all 22 of them to detention centers. According to the Legal Aid Office of Casa Alianza (Covenant House), who have taken up the case, the children were denied a lawyer, an act which is in clear contravention of article 40.2(b) of the Convention on Rights of the Child, to which Guatemala is a signatory:

Every child alleged as or accused of having infringed the penal law has at least the following guarantees:...To have the matter determined without delay by a competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body in a fair hearing according to law, in the presence of legal or other appropriate assistance...

In a later incident, on 11 February 1999 at about 8pm, a uniformed member of the PNC woke up and kicked two street children, Lorena Carmen Hernandez Carranza (15) and her boyfriend, Nery Mateo Hernandez (15), who were sleeping in a park. He accused them of having mugged and knifed someone. The policeman reportedly started to get violent when he was searching the two children for weapons. He threw them both to the ground and told them to take off their clothes. He then ordered Nery to look away and proceeded to sexually abuse Lorena. He then ordered the two to get dressed and left, telling the couple that he would return the following evening to 'bring them marijuana'. Casa Alianza Legal Aid Office brought the victims to the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Office of Professional Responsibility of the National Civil Police to make a verbal complaint.

Amnesty International has received many reports of human rights violations against street youths and children in Guatemala. Unlike most other human rights violations in Guatemala, there have been several convictions in cases of human rights violations against street children. Nonetheless, the authorities do not investigate the majority of the cases.

Click Here to link to Amnesty's web siteCaption

What You Can Do To Help:

Write a letter or send an e-mail to the President of Guatemala (be sure to copy and paste your letter into the text of the e-mail). Use the sample below as a guide:

S.E. Alvaro Arzú Irigoyen
Presidente de la Republica de Guatemala
Palacio Nacional,
6a Calle y 7a Avenida, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala
Dear President Arzú,

As a young citizen of the world, I would like to express my deep concern to you about the reported arbitrary detention of the 22 street children on 2 February 1999 in Guatemala City. I am worried about their safety and am calling on you and other Guatemalan authorities to take immediate measures to guarantee that they are not abused either physically or psychologically in the detention centers.

I urge you to publicly release the exact details of the alleged offenses that led to the arrest of the 22 children, and unless they are to be charged with a definitive offense, they should be immediately released. Please bring justice to this case by calling for an investigation into this incident to identify the responsible officers. Also, I urge you to launch a full investigation into the sexual assault against Lorena Carmen Hernandez Carranza, and violence against Nery Mateo Hernandez, and that the person responsible be brought to justice.

It is tragic for me to think about innocent Guatemalan youth being subject to abuse and arrest at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them. Please act to guarantee their safety and protect human rights in your country.


(your name, your country)


Basecamp | Making a Difference | Guidebook | Trek Connect | Time Machine
Home | Search | Teacher Zone