Álvaro Arzú, Ex-President of Guatemala, Dies at 72

President Álvaro Arzú, left, at a meeting of the permanent council of the Organization of American States in Washington in 1999. He sat next to Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who was president of Costa Rica at the time.

Álvaro Arzú, the former Guatemalan president who signed the final 1996 peace accord ending his country’s 36-year civil war and who later served for 14 years as mayor of Guatemala City, the capital, died there on Friday. He was 72.

Mr. Arzú, who was in the midst of his fifth term as mayor, was playing golf with friends when he had a heart attack and was taken to a hospital, a city official, Rosa María Bolaños, told the local news media in announcing the death.

Last year, prosecutors and a United Nations-backed antigraft panel accused Mr. Arzú of campaign finance violations involving the use of city funds to pay a prison co-operative to produce election material. But he was immune from prosecution while holding elected office as mayor.

He was also investigated for providing support to Byron Lima, a former army captain who was imprisoned for the killing of Msgr. Juan Jose Gerardi in 1998 while Mr. Arzú was president. Mr. Lima had been part of Mr. Arzú’s personal security team. The prison co-operative was set up by Mr. Lima.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Arzú had maintained a close relationship with Mr. Lima, who asked him for money to pay for an operation and lawyers’ fees. Mr. Lima was murdered in a 2016 prison riot.

Mr. Arzú, one of Guatemala’s most influential politicians, served as the country’s 32nd president from 1996 to 2000.

Although as president he signed the final peace accords that ended the country’s civil war, he did not negotiate them. The accords resulted from seven years of negotiations involving the United Nations, the Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches and neighboring Latin American governments, as well as Guatemalan organizations that had engaged in a stop-start dialogue for years.

A number of accords had been signed by the time Mr. Arzú took office, although he played a role in completing the final negotiation by bringing the business community as well as prominent Social Democrats into the talks.

The civil war began in 1960 with a failed uprising by leftists against a military-led government and government repression of social movements.

Six years earlier, the C.I.A. had backed a military coup that ousted a democratically elected president who had legalized the Communist Party there and whose land reform proposals had threatened the holdings of Guatemala’s richest families and the American United Fruit Company.

More than 200,000 people were killed during the war, about 83 percent of them Mayan, according to a United Nations-backed human rights commission. The commission found that a vast majority of the human rights violations had been perpetrated by state forces and military groups.

Mr. Arzú had a sour relationship with the press, which he often attacked for reporting on the accusations of corruption against him. When the Guatemalan military awarded him a prize for leadership in January, he told them to “go over the heads of the negative press.”

Álvaro Enrique Arzú Yrigoyen was born in Guatemala City on March 14, 1946. He and his wife, Patricia Escobar de Arzú, who survives him, had a daughter and two sons, one of whom, Alvaro Arzú Escobar, is president of the country’s Congress. There was no further information on survivors.

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