Letters to the Editor

Why Was Fr. Rother Killed?

Dear Editor: I have read the article (Sept. 23) on Father Rother’s life with the great interest.

It just happened that over years I have visited Guatemala three times, the first being in 1989, during still a very unsettled moment in that country history. I stayed with my wife and brother in a small hotel ‘Terrazas del Lago’ overlooking Lake Atitlan, built and owned by a Polish exile, Senor Felix Stopowski, who confirmed a chaotic state of affairs, although without mentioning the murder of Father Rother five years earlier.

His tiny hotel at San Antonio Palopo witnessed several attacks with stones and sticks by some Indians, who claimed the land under the hotel belonged to them.

Senor Felix prior to living in Guatemala wandered across most of Latin America (Brazil and Bolivia amongst other), and as somebody fleeing from Communism, he was moving on whenever and wherever the leftists came to power.

Finally settled in Guatemala, and by dealing fairly and employing the locals, he won over the village hearts, so his funeral many years later became a display of much affection. Senor Felix has bequeathed his hotel to the local Indian family, who worked for him. Whether he personally knew Father Rother I don’t know, but certainly knew about him.

One question was never answered in my mind: if Father Rother was such an irritant to then-rulers of Guatemala, why was he not simply deported rather than murdered?


Forest Hills