Political violence erupts in San Salvador

Political violence erupted in El Salvador tonight in a manner not seen in decades.    As the FMLN was concluding a rally in San Salvador to kick off the campaign for its mayoral candidate Rogelio Canales, a suspect pulled up in a blue car and began shooting.   Two people were killed and five wounded in the shooting which occurred in the charged atmosphere leading up to El Salvador's national elections four weeks from today.  As of late Sunday, three suspects had reportedly been arrested.

Images circulated on twitter of the blood spattered bed of a truck which had been participating transporting rally participants.

It's lamentable that in our country, one more time, we kill each other over political differences.  All ought to be responsible with their words and actions.   Democracy, earned after shedding so much blood of our sisters and brothers, can't give way to hate.   -- Miguel Pereira, FMLN mayor of San Miguel
Many were outraged when the first reaction by President Nayib Bukele was this tweet:

It appears that the moribund parties have put in motion their ultimate plan. What desperation to not lose their privileges and corruption. I thought they could not fall lower, but they fell.

It's incredible how little value they put on human life -- the most precious good we have in this world.  This government has fought to defend life but it seems that there are those who want to cling to the past of death.  Our people no longer want to suffer.

The PNC is already searching for those responsible and all the weight of the law will fall upon them.

Apparently Bukele was trying to claim this was a type of "false flag" event, instituted by his political opponents, to try and blame him and his political party????

The killings were condemned by the El Salvador's Human Rights Ombudsman (PDDH) who also called for the attorney general's office and the police to make a diligent investigation using all the technological tools available in the city: 

Attorney General Raul Melara tweeted:

An attack against supporters of a political party has happened and left two dead and 5 wounded as a result.

This is grave; the election contest cannot be converted into a blood bath.

We are investigating already, and we will will process those responsible.

Melara also announced that he was summoning the secretary generals of each of the political parties to meet with him Monday morning.

The FMLN held a press conference at 9 this evening where Oscar Ortiz, secretary general of the FMLN spoke.   Ortiz called the attack on the FMLN rally an assault against El Salvador and against democracy.   He put the blame squarely on president Bukele for inciting an atmosphere of hatred.   When asked about the president's tweet, Ortiz replied that he "wanted to vomit."

Reacting to the shooting, Jorge Cuellar, a Salvadoran scholar and lecturer at Dartmouth, wrote on Twitter:
Bukele’s inflammatory rhetoric has now turned into physical violence, a drive-by, against an opposition party campaign launch event. Senseless—and a direct consequence of Bukele’s ceaseless fearmongering.  This is the consequence of the political rage that Bukele has harnessed, encouraged, and now prompted followers to act on. Bukele must be held responsible for this act of direct violence against another political party.  It’s as if his military populism, his ongoing hate rhetoric for the political opposition, and the cult of personality he’s cultivated was something he could manage and contain to the realm of political discourse...

Since December, Nayib Bukele has been publicly denigrating the 1992 Peace Accords which ended the country's bloody civil war.   One of the major achievements of those accords had been the virtual elimination of political violence in El Salvador for the past two decades.   El Salvador now faces peril that the abusive attack language used by the president and his allies on social media may be inciting a kind of violence many prayed would not be seen again.   


Don said…
Openly discussing political corruption is not inciting hate. There is no hatred for politicians in El Salvador that would cause this type of violence. That is ridiculous. There is only a sense of strong confidence that Nuevas Ideas will sweep the upcoming elections.

Tim Muth obviously has ulterior motives. He is clearly blogging and tweeting to English language news consumers to develop a false narrative. Please stop.

Please speak out against this type of false narrative being developed by Americans.
David Amdur said…
Tim Muth has been posting articles on a number of subjects/topics about El Salvador for over 16 years and also writing and sharing his own perspective. He's not developing a false narrative. I would hope he only continues what he's been doing. I do not always agree with everything he posts, but this blog is very good and objective.
Don said…
He IS developing and promoting a false narrative. It is absurd to think that Bukele is fomenting hate. It is a false narrative. You can choose to believe this if you want. It is totally possible that Tim has blogged for 16 years and is pushing a false narrative.
Don said…
How could Tim possibly know what the sentiments of Salvadorans is like right now? How could he have the slightest idea about the feelings that Bukele is fomenting in Salvadorans? How can you say that any opinion from an armchair journalist in the United States like this is objective? Tim Muth is either pushing a false narrative on purpose or accidentally. Based on David's post, at least a few people take the blog seriously. I'm just saying to at least consider the possibility that Tim Muth is full of shit.
David Amdur said…
Hmm, "Don" is just a Bukele troll. Don't you have better things to do? I'd think Twitter is a more fertile cyber environment for your disinformation, though on that platform you could end up getting blocked by people didn't want to see your false narratives.
Don said…
If you want a safe space YOU go to Twitter. I thought the comments were for comments. Did I miss something?
Don said…
I will point out a few issues, Tim writes:

"Apparently Bukele was trying to claim this was a type of "false flag" event, instituted by his political opponents, to try and blame him and his political party????"

Why does Tim act like he knows this is false? He doesn't, and it is very possible if not likely. It is absurd to suggest that a group of politicians that have been raping El Salvador OVERTLY for decades wouldn't use their power COVERTLY during their lowest and most desperate times.

Tim was able to get this written in record time. Based on the tone of his blog post, he is 100% sure of his position and tries to convince his readers that Bukele is the cause of these murders even without any evidence or even tenuous connections.

Finally, in case you still actually believe Tim's sincere desire to remain somewhat objective he ends with this:

"El Salvador now faces peril that the abusive attack language used by the president and his allies on social media may be inciting a kind of violence many prayed would not be seen again."

There is absolutely no basis in reality for this opinion. There has been no violent rhetoric from Bukele. Salvadorans have not used violent rhetoric. And even in the rare cases that you may be able to produce from twitter, that does not represent a violent streak in El Salvador or a crisis and definitely cannot be connected to Bukele and the political party Nuevas Ideas.

There has been no evidence that this was even politically motivated. Maybe it was politically motivated. In any case, we should wait for the details before we start trying to tell other people what to think.
Don said…
Can you present some evidence or examples of rhetoric that has come from Bukele that accurately reflects Jorge Cuellar's tweet?

Cuellar wrote the murders were:
a direct consequence of Bukele’s ceaseless fearmongering. This is the consequence of the political rage that Bukele has harnessed, encouraged, and now prompted followers to act on.

Can you present to the readers of this blog some good examples of ceaseless fear mongering that can realistically be so intense that it would cause someone to commit a drive by shooting to murder FMLN political activists?

I don't know everything, but I do not share Cuellar's perception of Bukele's rhetoric or any politician in El Salvador that is actually on that type of insane level. If Cuellar is not accurately describing the reality in El Salvador, then why is he doing that?

Are you accusing the democratically elected president of El Salvador of calling for the political assassination of other politicians?

Are you just comparing Bukele to Trump to stike a chord with Americans that are still reeling from political violence in DC?
Don said…
I'll wait.

Forward them to Jim McGovern, too. He will need some type of evidence to use when he tries to intervene in Salvadoran democracy.
Don said…
What are you going to do if it turns out that these guys got into an argument with the people at the rally and they got into a drunken gun fight after a soccer game and this has nothing to do with politics? Are all these people like Cuellar and yourself going to walk back your accusations?
Don said…
I am looking forward to your presentation of Bukele's discourse that has fomented political violence.
Don said…
The message from this blog, El Faro, Jacobin, etc. is this:
Don't believe what you see and hear. Don't trust your own decision making. Believe what we tell you about this.

Otherwise these outlets would provide examples of Bukele promoting hate and violence.
Instead they only present us with tweets from politicians that tell us that Bukele is promoting hate and violence.

Show us some concrete examples or get out of the conversation.

These knee jerk responses and baseless claims are the types of pseudo-journalism that can drive the neoliberal imperialists in the U.S.A. to intervene in Salvadoran democracy. We are already seeing it from people like Jim McGovern.
Don said…

What was Tim Muth doing between 1979 and 1992?
Was he participating in collective action to stop the US govt from funding the Salvadoran army?
If so, why did that collective action yield no results?
If it is the case that he didn't participate in collective action, then why is he so upset now?
Is Tim Muth trying to influence our opinions on a Salvadoran politician?
If so, why are we as Americans supposed to criticize a Salvadoran politician? Are we serving a sincere human rights issue or do we have some ulterior motive?
Will Tim Muth and Jim McGovern finally save El Salvador from itself?
These are the questions that come to mind while reading this pearl clutching blog post.