Intimidation in Cabañas

The murder of Marcelo Rivera, and other recent incidents of threats and intimidation against journalists and activists in Cabañas, are troubling. Unknown persons or groups are waging a campaign of intimidation against environmental activists and reporters in the region.

More than 100 international organizations signed a letter to El Salvador's acting attorney general demanding that a more thorough investigation of the Marcelo Rivera murder and its possible political motives be conducted. The letter concludes:
As members of the international community in solidarity with the people of El Salvador, we are calling on the Office of the Attorney General to carry out an impartial, exhaustive, and effective investigation in order to bring to justice the intellectual and material authors of this horrendous crime. If Marcelo’s murder is left in a state of impunity, it will generate a climate of intimidation and uncertainty for social leaders and activists, undermining the advances in the democratic process in El Salvador.

Journalists covering the Marcelo Rivera murder have received death threats. According to Journalism in the Americas:

[Oscar Luna, the Ombudsman] for the Defense of Human Rights in El Salvador has asked for protective measures for three radio journalists who have received death threats, ANSA reports.

According to the Diario CoLatino, José Beltrán, Ludwing Iraheta, and Vladimir Abarca – reporters for Radio Victoria’s Cabañas office – have received several telephone threats following coverage of the disappearance and recovery of the body of a well-known environmental activist in the region. “You’re next,” they have been told.

The director of Radio Victoria said that due to the social nature of its broadcasts, it has received threats for several years. They have increased since the coverage of the environmentalist, however, which prompted the complaint.

The Radio Victoria station has reportedly been sabotaged twice in recent nights.

Another activist in the region, Father Luis Quintanilla, reports receiving death threats and then escaped a kidnapping attempt:

The priest, who was driving his vehicle on the road from the City of Victoria to Sensuntepeque (Department of Cabanas), was intercepted by four armed and masked men, who took him from his vehicle with the intention to kidnap and murder him. However the criminals did not achieve their objective, and the Priest was able to escape by jumping into a ravine.

This incident happened one month after the kidnapping, torture and murder of the environmental activist and social leader Gustavo Marcelo Rivera, and only a few days after the public denouncement of the death threats received by four Radio Victoria reporters.

Father Luis Quintanilla, like Marcelo Rivera and the journalists of Radio Victoria, has played a protagonist role in the defense of human rights and the opposition to all projects against the environment and democracy, like mining exploitation and electoral fraud in San Isidro.

Like the reporters in Radio Victoria, in recent days the priest had receive phone messages that threatened him with death, some of them said “there will be an end to the damned reds dressed up as priests” and “Keep quiet if you don't want what happened to Marcelo to happen to you,” making reference to the assassination of Marcelo Rivera and demonstrating the ties between these incidents of intimidation.

Many are saying these events are the product of the successful opposition to gold mining in the Cabañas region. One article looking at those links and other developments in El Salvador is Clfton Ross's Return to El Salvador in Counterpunch.


Gatofilo said…
Everyone is well aware of the fact that in El Salvador, murders are up 37% for the first seven months of 2009 as compared with the same period in 2008, and so far in 2009 there have been 2428 violent deaths. Law enforcement seems to be overwhelmed and incapable at this point in time.

In the context of this level of violence, how can anyone accept the premise that one person’s violent murder is more exceptional or noteworthy than another?

The act of living in a state of horror and lawlessness during one's only life is not living at all. Crime and violence are not a natural occurrence, and the people themselves must be who demand that their elected officials lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Clearly the usual finger pointing and playing the blame game is not a solution, and what needs to be done is obviously not being done.

I can only imagine that it’s becoming clearer to Mauricio Funes, that to criticize and make colorful TV commentaries is not the same as to govern. If we look at statistics, El Salvador is moving backward on all fronts without even a peep coming from that government.

Considering the overwhelming problems facing El Salvador, it's clear that something transparent and comparable to “The State of the Union” by Mr. Funes would be well received.

Silence not only produces added uneasiness and concern among the people, but is definitely isolating and counter productive for the administration.
Gatofilo said…
It's amazing how many people are fleeing the crime wave in El Salvador. Supposedly from a town named Intipuca, 80% of the inhabitants have already fled to "El Norte."

Salvadoran government officials are presently here in the U.S. trying to get an audience with authorities to help illegal Salvadoran aliens to remain in the country and not be deported.

At least Mauricio Funes has been smart and politically savy enough not to have gone overboard with the Hugo Chavez ALBA lunacy.

Only a mad dog would bite the hand that feeds him. And we here in the U.S. hold El Salvador in high esteem as a country who supported us during the Iraq campaign, and has held friendly relations with us since prior to WWII.

Personally, I do whatever is in my power to help out a needy Salvadoran whenever the opportunity arises.
Unknown said…
Accepting the premise that all murders are equally unremarkable and therefore that pointing out characteristics of a particular murder that could lead to indictments of perpetrators with powerful political connections to private interests or the state security forces is "exceptional", sounds to me more a rationalization for inaction bordering on coverup and complicity.

A presidential "State of the Union" type speech obviously will fail to root-out impunity without more effective measures being taken.

Anyone familiar with El Salvadors history understands that powerful business or landed sectors use lethal force to secure their interests. Investigating those connections and mobilizing public opinon around support for such investigations is appropriate. Impunity will only be defeated and justice will only be served with the engagement of the Salvadoran public.
El-Visitador said…
«it was a death squad killing [...] under orders of Pacific Rim»


the evil canucks are now mobstering death squads around!

quick, someone get clifton ross a tinfoil hat, before his paranoid conspiracy theories overcome Tim's brain and website!

- * -

« powerful business or landed sectors use lethal force to secure their interests»


would these be the same interests who made the clueless Saca regime (which was supposedly also controlled by the same evil powerful business and landed sectors) violate the law by not giving a yes nor a no on the mining permits, thereby resulting on a surefire international court verdict in favor of the miners?

what idiocy!

either the powerful landed and business interests puppetteer it all (in which case the permits would have granted eons ago) or they don't, in which case it is kinda pointless to be out killing peasants, don'tcha think?

are these lefties all paranoid or are all paranoids lefty clueless people?
Gatofilo said…
Although the many conspiracy theories work well for those stuck in the murky quagmire of the past and who are satisfied to sit back and point fingers at ghosts, they solve nothing but self satisfaction that they have brilliantly deducted the who and the why of the crime committed.

El Salvador has become "murder city" and every person victimized by the senseless lawlessness is precious in our Judeo-Christian belief system. Recently one identitied and well known and pathologically insane gunman murdered in cold blood and with complete impunity two brothers at a capital city restaurant. There were witnesses to the murders and the authorities have the identities of this criminal, and yet he goes free. This is repeated thousands of time every year in El Salvador where the overflowing prisons are run by the inmates themselves.

In a country where apparently human life has no value, every killing is as sickening a stain on the country as any other. I don't believe that any one life is worth more than any other.

You see, I'm one who believes in laws and in order, but most of all I believe in the sanctity of all human life.
Gatofilo said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gatofilo said…
Just a little side news:

Have we all heard by now about Chavez's most recent tightening of his power base; the de facto tin horn dictator and love child of Latin America's left, Hugo Chavez, yesterday closed 34 radio stations in Venezuela that were beaming anti Chavez broadcasts.

At the same time, the chafarrote threatened to close another 250 radio an TV stations in a note sent them by the Venezuelan Telecommunications National Commission (COMATEL).

I'm wondering where the OAS and world condemnation is to this blatant censorship. Let's remember that the same eerie silence was afforded Daniel Ortega with his infamously fraudulent past election.

The outlandish hypocrisy that we see these days and usual and expected reaction of those useful fools who are always ready with their lame excuses and finger pointing is always good for a laugh.

True, that I can laugh at these shameless government actions because I live far way and in this paradise on earth called U.S.A., but I have to pity the poor people living under those dictatorial socialist regimes.

The problem is, that if this continues in Latin America which will obviously end-up breaking those fragile economies, we'll soon have a human tsunami banging on our southern borders.

It's only fair that our leftists friends should at least have the conviction to go to Cuba, but we all know they don't and won't.

I for one am not surprised.
Gatofilo said…
E-V states, "what idiocy!

either the powerful landed and business interests puppetteer it all (in which case the permits would have granted eons ago) or they don't, in which case it is kinda pointless to be out killing peasants, don'tcha think?

are these lefties all paranoid or are all paranoids lefty clueless people?"


No, I think your wrong on that one, E-V. It's not that the "paranoid lefty" are clueless, they're just lacking imagination. They've been repeating the same story for the past 40 years and going strong. You must understand that these luminaries have tunnel vision minds, that they're not sharpest knives in the drawer, not by a long shot, but rather they're like a six pack missing a couple of cold ones, or an elevator that doesn't quite make it to the top floors.

No one can take them seriously, but you can listen and smile. They'll all be headed for "El Norte" soon and we'll miss them, although I'll have them mowing my lawn it they come to this town.

You may have noticed that I tried by best not to use the word "stupid," but stupid is as stupid does, and these friends do.