News and blog coverage of the murders in Guatemala

What Salvadoran bloggers are saying:

Recent events involving the murder of four Salvadorans in Guatemala have dominated the blogosphere in El Salvador. On February 19, three members of the Central American parliament (PARLACEN) from El Salvador's ruling ARENA party were found murdered in Guatemala along with their driver. The group had been traveling to a working group meeting of PARLACEN. The bodies were found in a rural area outside of Guatemala City, in the burned out shell of the vehicle in which they had been driving. Among the dead was Eduardo D'Aubuisson, son of the founder of ARENA.

Initially the reaction in the Salvadoran blogosphere was to call for restraint[ES], avoiding a rush to judgment, and calling for an in depth investigation[ES]. Jjmar wrote that no one should seek to take advantage of the murders[ES] for political gain, whether to further the political polarization in El Salvador or to gain a benefit in the 2009 election campaign.

Fears of a political motive were largely eliminated when four Guatemalan police officers were arrested for the murders three days later. The arrested police officers included the head of the organized crime unit within the Guatemalan national police. Yet there was to be another twist. On February 25th, the four Guatemalan police officers were executed in their cells in a high security Guatemalan prison. Most reports indicated that gunmen "stormed" the prison, passing through eight locked(?) doors to get to the suspects and kill them. The executions coincided with a riot within the prison, and the some Guatemalan authorities are still suggesting that the suspects were killed by rioting gang members. The discussion in the blogosphere now turned to organized crime and narco-trafficking and its hold in Central America.

Ixquic* wrote a post[ES] looking at the impotence of the Salvadoran and Guatemala states. Each has emerged from bloody years of civl war during the 1990s. In each country, the arrangements following the civil war created new civilian police forces, yet each had elements left over from earlier years contaminated with the bad habits of those times. Each country had a history of armed paramilitary groups, death squads and guerrillas, whose members had to find something to do. The post-war years saw a dramatic growth of organized crime in the countries which now controls trafficking in drugs, trafficking in persons, and kidnappings. In both countries, organized crime operates with near impunity against the impotence of the two governments.

The murders brought Soy Salvadoreño out of retirement[ES] on his blog. He had been watching the Academy Awards where the Best Picture award went to the The Departed, a movie about organized crime. In Spanish-speaking countries, however, the film is titled "Los Infiltrados." or "The Infiltrated." The parallels of organized crime infiltrating its way into the police struck him. As he learned about the execution of the suspects within the locked doors of a high security Guatemalan prison, Soy Salvadoreño wondered if truth was stranger than fiction.

The impunity with which organized crime was acting led Soy Salvadoreño to bemoan:
48 horas fueron suficientes para que la mafia (¿guatemalteca-salvadoreña?) planeara y ejecutara a los arrestados con la ayuda de los “infiltrados” de la policía y autoridades de Guatemala y de El Salvador .... No hay quien nos ayude, no hay quien nos proteja. No hay justicia. Vivimos en la selva.

48 hours were sufficient for the mafia (Guatemalan? Salvadoran?) to plan and execute those arrested with the help of "Los Infiltrados" within the police and authorities of Guatemala and El Salvador....There is no one who helps us; there is no one who protects us. There is no justice. We live in the jungle.

The question in El Salvador is what are the links in El Salvador to these murders. The Hunnapuh blog is running a poll[ES] asking its readers whether drug traffickers have infiltrated public officials in El Salvador and whether any particular party is more likely to be connected to drug-trafficking. Hunnapuh also made sure to remind his readers[ES] that, although US president George Bush had offered condolences for the "three gentlemen who were murdered," referring to the ARENA politicians, there were in fact four Salvadorans murdered that night. The driver of the car, Gerardo Ramirez, was also murdered, and he had been often overlooked in the press coverage of the murders.

The events of the past two weeks have also put a strain on relations between Guatemala and El Salvador. Patrick Hall at the Guatemala Solidarity Network points out "Guatemala-El Salvador relations haven't been this frosty for a long while." Government officials in El Salvador have been intimating that high government officials in Guatemala have connections to the crime. Meanwhile Hall also notes that journalists covering the case have been receiving death threats.

News media coverage

The story of the Salvadoran parliamentarians and their driver who were murdered in Guatemala, and the subsequent assassinations of the suspects in a Guatemalan prison has received significant recent coverage in the English language press. Here is a collection of links to those stories:

In Spanish, a very good summary of all the events since the killings can be found here.

Blogging section originally posted on Global Voices.


Anonymous said…
"Fears of a political motive were largely eliminated when four Guatemalan police officers were arrested for the murders three days later. "

I completely disagree. Police involvement is evidence of a political motive. Yes, that motive may be tied to organized crime. But criminal infiltration of the state is by definition political.

El-Visitador said…
When faced with a mistery, the worst thing you can do is jump to conclusions, because whoever does, blinds himself to possible solutions.

Larry makes an important point. Likewise, I have argued elsewhere that, whereas one of the likelier possibilities is drug trafficking, one should not discard the possibilities that this was:

-sex-related/passion crime
-business or property related

I have found no buyers, however, and most people are assuming it was drug-related.

Which is a very happy outcome, if you happen to be the murderer, and you did it for any of the reasons I listed above.
Tim said…
I suppose I could have been more specific by what I mean by "political." My point was simply that some early fears that this murder was committed by some faction who could be called part of "the left" seem to be unfounded. While we cannot rule that out, that possibility seems to be smaller when the killers are Guatemalan police officers.

Tying the killing to drug-trafficking has plenty of plausibility, but I agree that the proof so far is very scarce. I doubt that the Guatemalan government wants this to be drug-related. It would much rather call this "common crime" as El Salvador's government does whenever it does not want to explain hard questions about the motive for a killing (the Gilberto Soto case for example).

And while in some sense, Larry, any action by police is "political," my sense of using the term is to describe a situation where the victims were killed for their political views.
Anonymous said…
I do sense in some of the coverage by bloggers that the Salvadoran police are being painted as being as corrupt as the Guatemalan police and I for one don´t see the justification for that. They´ve been hailed as the most professional police force in Central America, and although the competition for that level may not be too high, my experience with them bears that out. Also the FBI police training school is being placed here for that very reason. They´re underpaid, underequipped and undertrained but still do a job in a culture where they aren´t valued very highly. Policemen aren´t regarded highly here, probably for some very good historical reasons, like they are in the States. But they risk their lives daily and deserve better in return. What happened in Guatemala shows a police force riddled with corruption. Where are the reports of motorists in El Salvador being robbed on the highways by the local police like happens in Guatemala? I feel a lot safer here than I do in Guatemala. I think I´ll hold off on visiting Antigua again for a while.
Anonymous said…
You forgot the last post of hunnapuh:

it seems that violence in both countries are the same, and much of it, both countries got an historial of corruption.

While the salvadorean press is hidden some facts that the guatemalean press had even being threaten for doing the opposite.

Why the salvadorean government are trying so hard to hide the fact that one of the members for PARLACEN could be involved in drog traffic.

Two crimes that can not be separated as the press is trying to do when talking about the deaths of their members and the crime of narco traffic. It is well known that narco traffic in El Salvador is as it most the more lucrative bussines they're doing.

I see hipocrecy here, when most salvadoreans are worry about the level of violence in the country and nothing has being done so far to stop it.
Hodad said…
I agree wholeheartedly with Wally and MY experiences with both...

having been ripped off in Guatemala by former head of Guatemala's transito police, Mr Lizama, Ihad a vehicle, boat fishing gear, video cameras and yes even a pistol, and other of my property and his son tying me up and wanting to kill me in yes, Wilmington NC the police in Guatemala,he was in drug biz up to his ears
well i will say, Vale Verga,to Guatemala ;police, not same as ES police,

whereas the police in El Salvador are excellent, and yes i gave them fits sometimes, but they were always professional, courteous, and very nice, and yes underpaid, and understaffed.

it seems these legislators have drug histories all over ES, from what i was told,to what level i care not to know,
hey, so does the bush family along with those idiotic CIA
contra Mena Arkansas plane landing fools
etc etc etc

as i have noted before, cocacola is still the largest 'legal' importer of coca leaf in the world
and again, ask about khat chewing in the Middle East, and if the military recruiters here in USA tell those young guys about all chewing khat over in Iraq mixing with 5-6 'tintos' each day, huh?
and all the pills doctors in USA prescribe,give,demand.....
what hypocrites, gets very old indeed
HEMP for the Future
Anonymous said…

Yes that is for you to say about the police, nevertheless for most salvadorean citizens is quite the opposite. The police institution shouldn't be in hands of politicals members of the gobernment, they should be neutral, that is the best that any country could have.

In many cases salvadorean's Human Rights organisations have denounced the police, there is a recent case where one witness survived to police brutality, he was left inside a hole after he was capture, torture and and left there because they thouth he was death.

We're talking about deaths squad within the police, actins as profesional killers after being paid for it.

It's the same as guatemalean's police institutions.

It's hard to see that after 12 years of civil war, the same methods still around.
Anonymous said…
Initially the reaction in the Salvadoran blogosphere was to call for restraint[ES], avoiding a rush to judgment, and calling for an in depth investigation[ES]. Jjmar wrote that no one should seek to take advantage of the murders[ES] for political gain, whether to further the political polarization in El Salvador or to gain a benefit in the 2009 election campaign.

the reaction was of result of fear.

Many ultra right wingers, started talking about revenge. One day after the assanations, Tony Saca sugested that left wing were responsible for the death. That was irresponsible, since he didn't have any prove to say something like it.

I read some people saying there could blod around, revenge after those irresponsible comments.

One week later, the investigation have turned around and the gobernment are trying so hard to omit the fact that the investigations could point it out, that Pichinte and D'abuisson, could be involve in drug traffic.

Such info. is a tabu in salvadoreans news papers, not to mention that the national press are also trying to distort the news, blaming the other side, creating and obstructing the investigations.

Something smelly and so dark is covered, the killing of the four guatemalean police, shows that police institutions are so corrupted from the root, that any deep investigation doesn't look possible.

Considering the Pichinte could be involve in drug traffics, had already put salvadoreans gobernment so defensive, and so silent about it, that they now prefer to shout any investigations that could be damaging for their own party.

For the rest, yes, the gobernment and Visitatour, come the clasic conclusions that it can be written as a nobel:

Pichinte and D'abuisson were in some sort of relations with an unknown madame, the other compadres, who travel with them to Guatemala, didn't know about the hatred and passion between them, however, the driver was also jealous, and wished to have a better political job, so he drove to the finca Conchita, where they used to have orgies and got drunk!

They bought some bottles of local guaro (pure local Vodka) and started a fight, they got exhausted, and the driver by error shoot someone in the neck,!


They shouted.
Pichinte the was considering that the -business was turning ugly and sugested that they couldn't comeback to El Salvador, and they were already dead, so they just decided to practice Hara Kiri, Pour some gasoline they had in the car and killed themselves for the patriotic cause.

As you can see, these fantasies can help ya! in the investigations!
Anonymous said…

You can not Be serius!!