Two members of opposition FMLN party murdered in El Salvador weeks before election amidst President Bukele’s “hate campaign”

Press Release

On the evening of January 31, gunmen opened fire on a group of supporters of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). The group, traveling in a pickup truck covered with FMLN signs, was returning from a day of campaigning for the upcoming February 28 mayoral and legislative elections in San Salvador. Two veterans of the armed conflict, Gloria Rogel del Cid and Juan de Dios Tejada, died and at least two more injured.

Rather than condemning the attacks, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele quickly took to Twitter to  insult and attack the FMLN, insinuating that the assault was planned by the party against their own people to gain public sympathy ahead of the elections.

During a press conference on Sunday, FMLN Secretary General Óscar Ortiz called on Attorney General Raul Melara and head of the National Civilian Police to conduct a transparent and thorough investigation. Meanwhile, the Political Commission of the Legislative Assembly called on “the international community to keep its eyes on El Salvador, also calling on the United Nations to “monitor peace and other rights.”

The president’s response was a reflection of what FMLN leaders describe as a “discourse of hate” perpetrated by President Bukele, who, since deploying the National Civilian Police and the Armed Forces to surround and enter the Legislative Assembly last February in an attempt to strongarm legislators into approving additional security funds, has publicly and repeatedly incited violence against members of the Legislative Assembly and his political opponents, from urging the public to exercise their “constitutional right to popular insurrection” to stating during a meeting at the Inter-American Development Bank that people in El Salvador were justified in their supposed desire to “burn all politicians alive.”

Bukele and representatives of his Nuevas Ideas party, which will compete in the February 28 elections for the first time, have also made unsubstantiated accusations that officials from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal are conspiring to commit fraud against them. As an indication of the types of action Bukele foments among his base, Nuevas Ideas members have gone far as to lock election officials inside their headquarters over disputed candidate qualifications. 

Statement from Samantha Pineda, Program Director at the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES):

“It is heartbreaking and terrifying to see a return to this type of overt political violence in El Salvador, which had largely ended after the Peace Accords were signed in 1992, but it’s not necessarily a surprise. Social movements and international solidarity organizations have been warning that behind the president’s discourse of hate is a Machiavellian strategy to legitimize violent state repression and the consolidation of power.

“In December, President Bukele visited El Mozote, the site of one of the largest massacres in Latin America to date, to call the Peace Accords a ‘farce.’ In truth, his goals are to destroy many of the most important achievements of the accords, like democratic elections, political freedoms and limits on the role of the military in society.

“The similarities between the strategies used by Bukele and those used by Trump to incite violence and undermine democratic institutions are chilling. But time and time again, the organized movements in El Salvador - unions, students, feminists, campesines, FMLN members - are taking to the streets, to social media and to the press to make clear that they see exactly what Bukele is trying to do and will resist any attempt to return to authoritarian rule.”

###

For immediate release
Media Contact: Alexis Stoumbelis, [email protected], +1 202-521-2510 ext. 205
Photos available

Similar Entries

Meet some of the sustainers who power our work!

"I am a CISPES supporter because continuing to fight for social justice and a more people-centered country means continuing the dream and sacrifice of thousands of my fellow Salvadorans who died for that vision.” - Padre Carlos, New York City

Join Padre Carlos by becoming a sustaining donor to CISPES today!

Recent Posts

El Salvador's Water Forum holds a press conference on October 22 to warn of monopolies embedded in the government-proposed Water Resources Law. Image Credit: Foro del Agua.

Sonia Urrutia Secretary-General of FESTRAJUSAL and representative of the Popular Resistance Bloc (BRP) speaks at Oct. 17 national mobilization

Image by BRP

Protesters gather on October 17 in the center of San Salvador to denounce abuses of the Bukele administration

October 17: More than 4,000 people gather in San Salvador to protest abuses of the Bukele administration. Image credit: Bloque de Resistencia y Rebeldía Popular