Date: Sun, 20 Sep 98 13:27:31 CDT
From: (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Centr-Am News 9/14-9/19/98
Article: 43630
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <>

/** reg.nicaragua: 32.0 **/
** Topic: Centr-Am News 9/14-9/19/98 **
** Written 5:24 PM Sep 19, 1998 by wnu in cdp:reg.nicaragua **

Former Leader of URNG Army of the Poor Dies in Guatemala

Centr-Am News, Vol. XXVI, week of Sept. 13—19 1998

Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) leader Ricardo Arnoldo Ramirez de Leon, whose nom de guerre was Rolando Moran, died in Guatemala City on September 11 of a heart attack, following unspecified surgery on September 9. He was 67 years old and held the post of Secretary General of the URNG.

In the early 1960s Ramirez began fighting against Guatemala's repressive government which took over after leftist president Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown by the U.S.-sponsored 1954 military coup. In 1972 he helped organize the Guerrilla Army of the Poor, one of the four organizations which joined together to form the URNG. As a result of the peace process that he helped negotiate, Ramirez was able to return to Guatemala after living many years in exile. The peace agreement, signed by the URNG and the government of President Alvaro Arzu on December 29, 1996, ended the 36-year long civil war. Ramirez lived to see the URNG become a legally recognized political party.

At a press conference on September 12 confirming his death, fellow URNG leader Jorge Soto (a.k.a. Pablo Monsanto) said of Ramirez, His contributions to the revolutionary struggle and the peace process were extremely invaluable. Because of Rolando Moran, Guatemala is a society transformed for the better, said Jennifer Schirmer, who teaches at Harvard University and is familiar with the Guatemalan peace process.

The revolutionary struggle in which Ramirez participated was notable for its emphasis on the indigenous peoples of Guatemala, who make up more than 50 per cent of the population. Ramirez had said that the ethnic-national struggle was just as important as the class struggle in the Guatemalan armed conflict.

Following a ceremony honoring Ramirez, his remains were taken to the Paraninfo, a former university, in Zone 1, the central zone of Guatemala City, where his coffin was decorated with more than thirty funeral wreaths, including those sent by Cuban president Fidel Castro, the Nicaraguan Sandinista National Liberation Front, the Rigoberta Menchu Foundation and the U.N. Verification Mission in Guatemala, Minugua. He was buried in the area of the Economics Faculty of the University of San Carlos, in the General Cemetery. During the funeral procession mourners shouted, For the unity of the URNG, Commander Rolando, present! The coffin was followed by URNG leaders Soto, Rodrigo Asturias, Gaspar Ilom and Ricardo Rosales Roman, Carlos Gonzalez.

Government representatives, including President Alvaro Arzu and his private secretary, Gustavo Porras, presented their condolences to Ramirez's family. Porras is a former member of the URNG.

Soto will replace Ramirez as the URNG Secretary General. In addition to his URNG companions, Ramirez is survived by his wife, three sons and four grandchildren. (New York Times, 9/15/98; El Diario La Prensa from AP, 9/14/98; Prensa Libre, Guatemala City, 9/14/98; Prensa Libre, Guatemala City, 9/15/98; El Nuevo Herald, Miami, 9/14/98; (La Nacion from AFP, Costa Rica, 9/14/98; Centro de Estudios de Guatemala, La Semana en Guatemala, September 6 - 12, 1998)