GUATEMALA CITY — A commission of the Organization of American States on Wednesday accused eight member nations of gravely abusing human rights and said this constitutes the most severe crisis in the Western Hemisphere.
A 211-page report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, submitted to organization foreign ministers, said the situation is improving, however, in El Salvador, Guatemala and Suriname.
Chile, singled out as one of the worst violators, denounced the report as "unjust, unreal, confused and contradictory" and launched an effort to amend it.
Cuba, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Haiti were the other countries specifically mentioned in the report. The commission was created in 1959 by the Organization of American States, which includes Caribbean, Central and South American countries, the United States and Mexico.
A group of Guatemalan demonstrators protested outside the hotel where the 16th OAS General Assembly is being held. They demanded that Guatemala account for missing husbands and children who were among thousands kidnaped and presumably killed by military regimes that ruled the country before this year.
The commission report said such abuses have fallen sharply since the inauguration last January of President Vinicio Cerezo, Guatemala's first civilian president since 1970.
But it said Guatemala still has serious human rights problems, "mainly caused by widespread violence, which the president has not been able to control."
The commission said the most serious crisis confronting the hemisphere "involves specifically the right to life," which it called the most fundamental of all rights.
It said that "vast sectors" of the civilian population of Central America have been killed because of internal fighting.
"These sectors have borne the brunt of action attributable to both the regular and insurgent forces as a result of bombings of the civilian population, the mining of roads and summary executions. . . ."
The commission also said that in Chile and elsewhere, "The denial of political rights in turn has given rise to acts of terrorism committed against the governments and provoked by those governments."
It noted it has long expressed "concern about the dangerous radicalization produced by the political extremes in Chile" and said it had found "a worsening of the situation."
The Chilean government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet has sharply curtailed most human rights and employed Chilean security forces to kidnap and kill political opponents, the commission said.
It deplored "the use the government is making of the reprehensible activities of extremist groups in order to adopt measures against human rights. . . ."
Chilean delegates circulated a draft petition seeking to soften the language dealing with their country and stating that Chile faces escalating terrorism. They expressed confidence that the OAS General Assembly would note its objections, as it did when last year's human rights report was considered.
The General Assembly is expected to vote Friday on the human rights report.