April 30, 2000

 Japanese Tourist Killed by Mob in Guatemala Market

          By Reuters

          GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - A Japanese tourist and a Guatemalan
          bus driver were killed in a rural Indian market after being attacked by a
          mob of about 500 angry villagers who thought they were there to steal
          children, police said on Sunday.

          Tetsuo Yamahiro, 40, was killed when he and 22 other Japanese tourists
          were attacked with stones and sticks by a mob while visiting a Mayan
          market on Saturday in the highland village of Todos Santos Cuchumatan,
          police spokesman Faustino Sanchez said.

          Edgar Castellanos, a Guatemalan tour bus driver, was also killed in the
          attack in the town some 90 miles northwest of the capital. His body was
          doused in gasoline and partially burned.

          ``The tourists were taking pictures of women and children in the market
          when someone started to scream that they were stealing children and a
          crowd of 500 villagers quickly closed in around them,'' Sanchez said.

          Two Japanese women, Ueda Kumiko, 37, and Esaskika Takashi, 67, were
          injured but did not require hospitalization, Sanchez said. It was not
          immediately known where the tourists were from in Japan.

          Japanese Embassy officials in Guatemala City could not be reached for

          Local police rushed to the market and began to fire tear gas to disperse the
          crowd. Two police officers were injured.

          A persistent myth in some Mayan communities is that foreigners come to
          steal children to sell them or their body parts abroad, although no cases
          have been documented.

          In 1994, U.S. journalist June Weinstock was attacked and beaten almost to
          death by hundreds of angry peasants in the remote village of San Cristobal
          Verapaz who thought she was trying to steal a baby.

          In 1997, a Guatemalan woman suspected of trying to snatch a baby died
          after a crowd of villagers dragged her and another women from jail and
          beat them savagely.

          Every year, the market at Todos Santos Cuchumatan draws thousands of
          foreign tourists, who come to see the brightly colored Mayan textiles. The
          market is listed in international tourist guides as a good place to visit.

          Mob lynching is not uncommon in impoverished and crime-ridden
          Guatemala. Experts say a legacy of violence remains in the country, which
          in 1996 emerged from a 36-year civil war that killed 200,000 people, mostly
          Mayan peasants.

          At least 71 people, mostly suspected criminals, were killed by mobs in
          peasant villages in 1999.