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Take Action! Denounce Surge of Political Violence in El Salvador

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Demand a thorough investigation of assassination, attacks, death threats against journalists and activists tied to anti-mining struggle

Action Alert

August 18, 2009

 

Take action against violence toward community leaders in Cabañas!

 

Demand a thorough investigation of assassination, attacks, death threats against journalists and activists tied to anti-mining struggle

 

The last two months have been marked by a series of violent acts – including an assassination, attempted assassinations, and numerous death threats – against community leaders in the Salvadoran department of Cabañas, where citizens are organizing to stop gold mining operations that threaten grave environmental and public health repercussions. Despite the overtly political overtones of this wave of violence, local police authorities and the Attorney General's office have classified these cases as common crimes.

 

Join the international response to this repression of organizers in Cabañas TODAY. Call on the Salvadoran authorities to carry out an exhaustive investigation of these crimes and their motives.

 

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TAKE ACTION: E-mail the following Salvadoran authorities!

***sample e-mail text at the end of this alert***

 

Attorney General's office:

astor.escalante@fgr.gob.sv

fatima.guardado@fgr.gob.sv

radelgado@fgr.gob.sv

Elopez@fgr.gob.sv

alberto.uribe@fgr.gob.sv

 

National Civilian Police:

violetapolanco@pnc.gob.sv

angel.manzano@pnc.gob.sv

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The following instances of violence have occurred in the last two months:

 

                     July 2: The body of Marcelo Rivera, community leader from San Isidro, Cabañas, who had disappeared on June 18, is found in a well, exhibiting clear signs of torture. Marcelo was an environmental activist, opposing mining in the region and denouncing electoral fraud in the municipality in January 2009. While four gang members are considered suspects in the crime, there has been no investigation into the killing's intellectual authors. To learn more watch the video "The mysterious murder of Marcelo Rivera."

                     July 27: Three journalists from Radio Victoria, which had been reporting on Marcelo's case, receive intensifying death threats, telling them that they will "end up like Marcelo."

                     July 28: Father Luis Quintanilla, a priest who works with the community of Santa Marta and advocates for human rights in the region, is attacked after speaking on Radio Victoria, but narrowly escapes a kidnapping and assassination attempt.

                     July 29: A number of community leaders in Cabañas receive death threats, including the director of the Association for Economic and Social Development (ADES).

                     August 7: Ramiro Rivera, another community leader who has actively participated in the anti-mining movement, is shot 8 times. Ramiro survives but is in serious condition. This article has more information.

                     August: Staff members of Radio Victoria continue to receive death threats throughout the month.

 

 

SAMPLE E-MAIL (English translation below):

 

Estimadas Autoridades:

 

Como miembro de la comunidad internacional, quiero expresar mi profunda preocupación por los recientes hechos de violencia contra líderes sociales en Cabañas: El secuestro y brutal asesinato del activista Gustavo Marcelo Rivera; las amenazas de muerte a periodistas de Radio Victoria, al director de la Asociación de Desarrollo Económico y Social Santa Marta (ADES) y a varios líderes comunitarios de Cabañas; el sabotaje al sistema electrónico de Radio Victoria; y los intentos de asesinato de los líderes comunitarios, Padre Luis Quintanilla y Ramiro Rivera.

 

Considero que existen suficientes evidencias para presumir que el asesinato de Marcelo Rivera y los demás crímenes están relacionados y forman parte de una campaña para intimidar a las organizaciones sociales en Cabañas. Es preocupante que la Fiscalía  esté adjudicando a priori estos crímenes a la violencia común, ignorando las evidencias y antecedentes presentados que indican la naturaleza política de los eventos.


 

Por lo tanto como miembro de la comunidad internacional, hago un llamado para que la Fiscalía General de la República realice una investigación imparcial, exhaustiva y efectiva de todos estos casos, para dar con los autores intelectuales y materiales de estos crímenes y garantizar así la protección de los líderes sociales en la región. De quedar estos eventos en la impunidad, se estaría generando un clima de temor e incertidumbre para los demás líderes comunitarios, contrarrestando así los avances logrados en el proceso de democratización del país.

 

Agradezco de antemano sus gestiones para agilizar las investigaciones y espero que pronto se haga justicia en estos casos y se brinde protección a las víctimas y reparación a los familiares de Marcelo.

 

[Tu nombre / Your name]

 

___________________

 

Translation of Email:

 

As a member of the international community, I want to express my profound concern about the violence and threats toward community leaders in Cabañas: The kidnapping and brutal assassination of the activist Gustavo Marcelo Rivera; the death threats against journalists at Radio Victoria, the director of the Association for Social and Economic Development (ADES) and other community leaders in Cabañas; the sabotage of the broadcasting equipment at Radio Victoria; and the recent assassination attempt against the community leaders Father Luis Quintanilla and Ramiro Rivera.

 

I believe there is sufficient evidence to assume that Marcelo Rivera's murder and the other crimes are linked and part of a campaign to intimidate community organizations in Cabañas. It is alarming that the Attorney General Office is attributing these crimes to common violence, ignoring the evidence and antecedents that indicate the political nature of these events.

 

Therefore as a member of the international community, I call on the Attorney General Office to carry out impartial, exhaustive and effective investigations of all of these crimes in order to bring to justice the intellectual and material authors of these crimes and guarantee the protection of other community leaders in the region. Leaving these crimes in a state of impunity creates a climate of fear and uncertainty for the rest of the community leaders, undermining the advances in the democratic process in El Salvador.

 

I thank you in advance for your efforts to speed up the investigations and I hope that there will soon be justice in these cases and that the victims' lives will be protected and Marcelo's family will be compensated for their loss.

 

Thanks to SHARE Foundation and U.S-El Salvador Sister Cities for content of this alert and leadership on this issue.