FESPAD affirms that “death squads” are responsible for the increase in violence in recent weeks

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(This is an unofficial translation.  To see the original Spanish-language Transparencia Activa article, click here.)

The Foundation for the Study of the Application of Law (FESPAD), a civil society organization, claims that these groups have operated since before the war, for the purpose of social and political extermination, and with links to organized crime. Its reports indicate that these groups are active since December in Ilopango, Soyapango and Lourdes.

by Transparencia Activa

January 23, 2014

The increase in violent episodes in recent weeks could be linked to “death squads”, that have as their objective generating anxiety in the population just days before the presidential elections of February 2.

This statement was made by Nelson Flores, Public Security and Criminal Justice Program Coordinator for the Foundation for the Study of the Application of Law (FESPAD), who said that the aim of these actions is to show the Salvadoran people that the government is unable to fight this phenomenon.

 “We have information that armed groups have been threatening different communities in the country since last December,” said Flores.

According to the representative of FESPAD, these alleged death squads are active in several communities in the municipalities of Ilopango and Soyapango, and in the community of Lourdes, municipality of Colon, in La Libertad.

Flores added that this is a typical and recurring situation during election periods, as stated in the document “Extra-judicial executions of stigmatized youth in Central America: A situational study in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras”, published by this same foundation. These groups have been operating in the country since before the civil war (1980­-1992).

“Since then, at different salient times there have been indications of the existence of groups designed for social and political extermination, or with links to organized crime”, indicates the report.

The document adds that “the names of these groups often refer to historical figures associated with the worst kind of State violence, such as General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, Domingo Monterrosa or Roberto D' Aubuisson.”

Also, in the mid-90s the so-called “Sombra Negra” (Black Shadow) squad appeared in the province of San Miguel.

According to the investigation by FESPAD, there’s a substantial possibility that this and other death squads have ties to organized crime, or that their purpose now relates more directly with the purposes of organized crime.

As a way of fighting these activities, Flores proposed that the Attorney General of the Republic investigate without any further delay the killings and massacres and work in coordination with the police.

Last January 16, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes expressed his concern about the increasing number of violent episodes attributed to gang members during the past few days, and said that according to intelligence reports it could be related to the election period the country is going through.

The Head of State informed that acording to intelligence reports received by the government, this situation is playing into the hands of the ARENA for their electoral purposes.

“God willing, there is no relationship or provocation from within the ARENA party structures, which have been characterized in the past by promoting such acts of social violence,” said the President, and explained that these reports are being analyzed.

Last Wednesday, President Funes confirmed that, according to witnesses, the perpetrators of some recent killings were dressed in dark suits. Investigations indicate that they could be hitmen.

TB/jaj

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