Guatemalan former defense minister Hector Alejandro Gramajo Morales, responsible for the torture and murder of thousands of Mayan peasants, died on March 12 at a hospital several hours after being attacked by “africanized” bees at his farm in Santo Tomas, Sacatepequez department. Gramajo’s son, Hector Antonio Gramajo Quezada, was first attacked by the bees; the elder Gramajo was stung when he tried to help his son. Both were hospitalized with bee stings; the son died two hours after his father. The elder Gramajo did not have a large number of bee stings; doctors suggest he may have suffered a heart attack. A gardener and domestic worker at the farm were also hospitalized with bee stings.
Gramajo was a graduate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts; at his graduation ceremony there on June 6, 1991, human rights activists served him with court papers for a multi-million dollar federal civil suit. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) sued Gramajo under the Alien Tort Claims Act on behalf of nine Guatemalans for acts of torture, abduction and murder under his “pacification” program in the western Guatemalan highlands in 1982, when he was Army chief of staff. After retiring from the army, Gramajo described his “pacification” program by saying: “You needn’t kill everyone to complete the job… We instituted Civil Affairs, which provides development for 70% of the population while we kill 30%.”
A week after Gramajo graduated from Harvard, CCR brought a second lawsuit against him in the same court on behalf of US nun Dianna Ortiz, who was abducted and tortured by the Guatemalan military in November 1989. Gramajo lost both lawsuits by default on Nov. 7, 1991, because he failed to respond to the court’s requests for basic information. Six weeks later, in late December 1991, Gramajo was honored as a guest speaker at a graduation ceremony at the School of the Americas (SOA) in Fort Benning, Georgia. SOA commandant Jose Feliciano has reportedly claimed that Gramajo inspired many SOA policies.
Gramajo’s murderous sidekick, Gen. Rios Montt, is currently under house arrest in Guatemala. Is there a brown recluse or black widow in his future?