Human Rights Violations in El Salvador Since the Installment of the ILEA
Human Rights Violations in El Salvador Since the Installment of the International Law EnforcementAcademy (ILEA)
CISPES Fact Sheet Spring 2007
Since the implementation and opening of theInternational Law Enforcement Academy in San Salvador in the Fall of 2005, theNational Civilian Police (PNC) of El Salvador have shown themselves to beperpetuating more violence and exposingthemselves as more corrupt, possibly being connected to resurging deathsquad-like structures. The Salvadoran social movement has pointed to the increasedpolice violence against protesters, harsher laws against youth frommarginalized communities, increased militarization of police, and the illegalapproval of a US-sponsoredInternational LawEnforcement Academy(ILEA) as indicators of the set-backs to the 1992 Peace Accords.
Belowis a list of a broad range of human rights violations within the last year.
.Murder and Assault of Social Movement Family. On February 12, 2007, a family of FMLN (leftistpolitical party in El Salvador)supporters were attacked in the municipalityof San Martin. RosendoAlas Quintanilla, 68 years old, was murdered, and his wife and two childrenwere physically assaulted. Peoplebelieve the attack may be politically motivated, since he and his family hadreceived threats months earlier. Quintanilla was beheaded and his partner andtwo children had wounds on their necks, fingers and arms. The Salvadoranright-wing media presented the case as one of common crime, while varioussocial organizations made the denouncement public and have been pressing forthe case to be investigated.
.Disappearance of Student Activist Francisco Contreras. Contreras has been missing since February 7, 2007,after being detained by the police and afterwards disappeared. Thisdisappearance is yet another case of the repression against those whoparticipate in protest and organizing work. Some people have believed thatContreras was kidnapped by death-squad like structures, which are connected tothe state, and they are therefore calling on the ARENA government to releaseContreras and calling for a full investigation.
.Criminalization of Student Protests. On January 30, 2007, students held a protest againstthe recently approved Anti-Terrorism Law, which criminalizes forms of socialprotest rather than actual terrorist threats. Police presence during theprotest was minimal, creating an image of the police as keeping order andlooking out for the well-being of even the protesters. However, after theprotest, police followed leaders of the youth organizations and coordinators ofthis protest to the surrounding municipalities where they live. There, thepolice arrested 9 of the youth including one minor. One youth leader was badlybeaten before they were transferred to a police station in yet anothermunicipality. The protesters were charged with public disorder, carrying ofweapons and resisting arrest.
.Negligenceby Prison Officials as Riot Led to Riot and 21 Deaths. A riot took place on January 5, in the Apanteos Prisonand for hours, prison officials did not intervene while a group of inmatesmurdered 21 other prisoners. Beatrice de Carrillo, Human Rights Ombudswoman,held a press conference in which she offered scathing criticism of thegovernments handling of the violence, saying the prison officials actions inthe case were negligent at best. She called on President Saca to immediatelyremove both the national head of prisons and the Apanteos director from office.Church officials and FMLN representatives publicly denounced theirresponsibility and negligence of the directors of the prison system. Even theOrganization of American States expressed its concern and called on SalvadoranPresident Saca to improve prison conditions.
.PoliceIntimidation and Arrest of Activists in San Lorenzo. Early in the morning of November 28, morethan 600 police and 150 soldiers violently entered the community of San Lorenzo and arrested seven members of the Committeeof People Affected by the Storm Stan and the Ilamatepec VolcanoEruption. The community came together after being left homeless ordevastated by the natural disasters, and was highly critical of thegovernments ineffective response. The police and military stormed intopeoples homes, intimidating both children and adults. The community thencame together with ANTA (National Association of Agricultural Workers) and helda press conference the following day to denounce the arrests and the policeintimidation.
.PoliceAttack on CD/DVD Vendors Movement. Also on November 28, 2006, in San Salvador, members of the CD/DVD VendorsMovement were attacked by police. The police raided the pirated CD/DVDvendors to enforce the CAFTA laws protecting intellectual property rights. Duringthe confiscation of goods, the police beat and arrested various members of theorganized Vendors movement. The police also threatened the movement leaderfor his organizing as they ransacked his home.
.Lutheran Pastor and Wife Killed. On November 4, 2006, Francisco Carrillo and Jesus deCarrillo, two religious leaders, human rights advocates, and activists in alocal community volunteer rescue program, were shot and killed outside theirchurch in the town of Jayaque,La Libertad. Francisco was a pastor in the Lutheran church; as he lockedup after service, the assailants approached on bicycles and shot him and thenhis wife, who was waiting in a nearby car. The Carrillos were known forbeing vocal community activists and had recently received death threats fortheir work.
.CatholicPriest Murdered. On September 25, 2006,the body of Father Ricardo Antonio Romero - parish priest of Santa CatarinaMasahuat in the department of Sonsonate - was found on the highway to Acajutla.Father Ricardo was recognized as a priest who identified with the oppositionand carried out the preferential option for the poor. Because there were nosigns of robbery at the crime scene, and because of his promotion of organizingand popular struggle, many believe that it was a politically motivated murder.
.YouthKidnapped for 1 week. 18-year oldLuis Edgardo Osorto Gomez was kidnapped for 1 week in September 2006, afterleaving his house to facilitate a youth meeting in Santa Rosa de Lima,department of La Union. Luis Edgardo is a student at the National Institute ofSanta Rosa, and had been organizing a youth group, from which all the leadershave since deserted due to safety concerns. Luis Edgardo was also the son of arecognized FMLN activist in the area. His father received threatening calls inthe previous weeks, in which he was told he was a stubborn lefty and that hisson would pay. Luis Edgardo also reported having been followed by a black carwith no license plates.
.Riot Police Attack Water Privatization Protest. On September 8, 2006, the Salvadoran riot policeviolently dispersed a peaceful protest in the Santa Eduviges community, whichhad taken over the Carretera de Oro (one ElSalvador's main highways) in the city of Soyapango. The community was demanding thatthe state-run water company ANDA take over the administration of the watersystem since the privately-run system was failing and the community had notreceived water in more than two months. The riot police attacked the communitywith teargas, despite the presence of children and the elderly, and later riotpolice sprayed pepper gas at community members who sat down in civildisobedience. Five people were beaten, captured and threatened with trials forpublic disorder.
.Murder of FMLN leaders. Alex Flores Montoya and Mercedes Peñate de Montoya,two well-known FMLN leaders, were found dead on August 23rd in the municipality of Coatepeque,department of Santa Ana.The husband and wife were traveling in their vehicle when they were interceptedby another vehicle. They were then forced to lay face down on the ground, eachshot with a single bullet to the head, and abandoned in a nearby alley. AlexFlores Montoya was a teacher in two of the local public schools, and as an FMLNactivist he served as the local FMLN boards adjunct coordinator and ran formunicipal council with the FMLN in the March 2006 elections. Mercedes Peñate deMontoya was also a recognized FMLN activist and former candidate to the FMLNmunicipal council in the March 2000 elections.
.Death Threats on Unions. At the end of July, 2006, the water workers union(SETA) received a death threat that listed their union, as well as the publichealth care workers union (STISSS) and teachers union (ANDES), and signed by agroup calling itself Viva mi mayor, in reference to the well known andinfamous founder of the Salvadoran death squads and of the ARENA party, RobertoDAubisson. The union held a press conference to publicize the intimidationattempts and called on the government to investigate and stop the threats. SETAhas been very active in organizing a national coalition bringing together waterworkers, water users, environmentalists and other community activists instopping the government plans to halt water privatization, and union SecretaryGeneral Wilfredo Romero made clear that his union was targeted for itsresistance to state policy.
.July 5th Repression on Student Protest ofBus Fares. On July 5, 2006, violenceerupted during a student protest against bus fare hikes and led to the policeoccupation of El Salvador'sNational University (UES) for days, the emergency evacuation of more than 700people, the capture of between 20 to 30 students, as well as a universityadministrator being gravely injured. The students were later released from jaildue to lack of evidence, the police finally left the university, and on Tuesdaya captured union leader was also released. The Human Right's Office called theviolence instigated by the National Civilian Police (PNC) the "worstviolation of human rights since the Peace Accords," and social movementorganizations, human rights groups, and student groups called the government'sresponse an unjustified use of force that representing a serious setback to the1992 Peace Accords.
.Killing of Manazares Elders. On July 2, 2006, Francisco Antonio Manzanares, aged77, and Juana de Manzanares, aged 75, parents of Radio Venceremos co-founderand recognized FMLN militant Marina Manzanares, were brutally tortured andmurdered in their Suchitoto home early on the morning of July 1. Their deathsquad style assassinations sent shockwaves through the Salvadoran socialmovement.
Sources: La PrensaGrafica, Diario Colatino, Diario de Hoy, CISPES San Salvador Office, Procuraduríapara la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (Salvadoran Human Rights DefenseOffice)