Groups Criticize ARENA Government for Inaction in Investigating Crime


Teamsters, ILO, and Women’s Rights Organizations all Criticize ARENA Government for Inaction in Investigating Crime

This month ARENA has repeatedly demonstrated its intention of maintaining El Salvador in a state of generalized impunity, especially for those who commit political crimes and violence against women.  On Thursday November 16, ARENA deputy Milena Calderon de Escalon, fierce defender of the Amnesty Law that protects all those who committed human rights abuses during the war, offended the memory of all those disappeared during the conflict by making a show in the Legislative Assembly of tearing up the pronouncement to officially declare August 30 as the National Victims of Forced Disappearances Day.

Those responsible for political crimes of in the past two years also walk free in El Salvador, including the murders of Gilberto Soto, union leader in the United States who was murdered while on an organizing trip to El Salvador two years ago, and the murders of the parents of former Radio Venceremos announcer “Mariposa” Marina Manzanares.  The Saca administration has been impeding any real investigation of either of these murders.  After receiving no response from the government officials charged with investigating her parents’ murder, Mariposa has gone on an international campaign denouncing the covering up of the government of these crimes. 

This November marks the two year anniversary of Gilberto Soto’s murder, and both the International Labour Organization and the Teamsters have put out statements this month calling for a real investigation into Soto's murder.  The Teamsters specifically call on Condoleezza Rice and the U.S. State Department to pressure the Salvadoran government to carry out a real investigation into Soto’s murder.  To support that push, please call your Congressional Representative (212-224-3121 is the Capitol Hill switchboard) and the State Department (202-647-5291) to insist that the U.S. push for an investigation and support the Human Rights office’s work on the case. (See for the Teamsters’ demands.)

Violence continues to rise in El Salvador, aggravated by the refusal of the government to address its cause and create real solutions. The FMLN continues its legal struggle by presenting proposals concentrated on the prevention of crime and rehabilitation of criminals, which have been ignored by Saca.  Instead, Saca has used his alliances with right wing catholic and evangelical churches to put on various spectacles of “Praying for Peace,” including television ads and a national prayer-for-peace convention.

National Day of Action and Awareness about Violence against Women

The issue of impunity and a legal system that does not protect victims of crime has especially affected Salvadoran women.  El Salvador has the second highest level in Central America, behind Guatemala, of femicides, or murders of women.  In 1995, the Legislative Assembly ratified the Inter American Convention for the Prevention, Sanction and Eradication of Violence against Women Act, which means the Salvadoran government is responsible for its fulfillment, but in reality it has simply been ignored.

Various women right’s organizations participated in the November 24 annual march in protest against the increasing murders and violence against women.  The actions took place around San Salvador and in various cities around the country. The march was the culmination of the national campaign against violence towards women in which women’s rights organizations called on different areas of government to start dealing with the problem.  Hundreds of participants marched to the Presidential House, where they were stopped by riot police.  The women attempted to present the president with their demands for a real solution to prevent violence against women, including the exhaustive investigation of every murder of women, and looking beyond bring the murderers to justice, but to create policies focused on the eradication of gender violence.

The FMLN participated in the activity and committed to lobbying in the Legislative Assembly for creation of laws that truly protect women from violence, since the current laws for the protection of women are not enforced and the judicial system is failing.  Beatrice de Carrillo, the Human Rights Ombudsperson, also attended the march, making public her critique of the failing judicial system, making strong statements blaming the state for perpetrating systemic and social discrimination and violence against women. 






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