Urgent Action: Denounce recent wave of death threats and crimes against El Salvadoran anti-mining movement

Via: SHARE, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), Sister Cities and Voices on the Border

Our allies in the Cabañas environmental movement as well as the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining (the Mesa) are very concerned about a recent wave of death threats and crimes against members of El Salvador’s anti-mining movement as well as other violent crimes recently committed in Cabañas. Similar crimes in 2009 that went uninvestigated, including robberies, kidnappings, and death threats against members of Radio Victoria, ADES, ASIC, and the CAC – all active organizations in Cabañas’ mining resistance –were a prelude to the murders of three activists, Marcelo Rivera, Ramiro Rivera and Dora Alicia Sorto Recinos. Please read more in-depth reports here.

Therefore, our allies are extremely concerned that the on-going state of impunity not only encourages the recent threats and crimes but could lead to more violence and murders in the near future.

Current situation:

In the middle of the night on January 11, a written death threat was pushed under the front door of community radio station Radio Victoria despite supposed 24-hour police security. The authors claim to be an “extermination group” and offer large sums of money to the radio if they “stop making trouble,” including to stop reporting on mining. If they don’t, the group says they will murder the radio’s three “loudest mouths,” Elvis Zavala, Pablo Ayala, and Manuel Navarrete.

On January 23, Mesa member and activist from MUFRAS-32 Hector Berríos received phone calls to his home and his cell phone from an unidentified person who claimed to have been hired to kill Hector or a member of his family.

This month, employees of CEICOM, a member organization of the Mesa, have been victims of two robberies in which a vehicle and important organizational documents were stolen. In 2010, while traveling to regional anti-mining conferences, CEICOM employees were robbed on one occasion and kidnapped, robbed and left tied up on a separate occasion in Guatemala.

Two young people in Cabañas who were connected to the June 2009 trial for the murder of Marcelo Rivera have been killed. Darwin Serrano, who participated in the murder but was released from prison because he was a minor, was attacked and killed on December 20. Gerardo Abrego León, who testified in the trial that convicted and sentenced to prison the material authors of Marcelo Rivera’s murder, was killed on January 2. Read more here.

Background:

All of the death threats, kidnappings, robberies from 2009 remain in impunity. While some material authors have been found guilty and sentenced in the murder cases, there have been no investigations of the intellectual authors of the murders or the relationship of the crimes to the victims’ involvement in the anti-mining movement.

Our allies in El Salvador believe the negligence of El Salvador’s Office of the Attorney General, particularly the lack of investigation into who is ordering the attacks, has created a climate of impunity that empowers the structures carrying out this systematic intimidation campaign against the social movement to continue with their threats, violence, and potentially murders.

Please join us in taking action now to demand that the Attorney General properly investigate these crimes and to call on the government to provide sufficient protection for members of the anti-mining movement.

Take Action

1) Send an email to the Attorney General Romeo Barahona (see sample email below) to demand a full investigation and protection for the victims. Please send the email to his assistant at hector.burgos@fgr.gob.sv

2) Send an email to David Morales, Director of Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Relations to demand specialized police protection for those being threatened (see sample email below) at dmorales@rree.gob.sv

3) If you speak Spanish, please also call Salvadoran Attorney General Romeo Barahona at 011-503- 2230-6350 (see sample script below)

4) If you speak Spanish, please also call Lic. David Morales at 011-5003-2231-1143 (see sample script below).

Sample email for Attorney General Barahona (email his assistant: hector.burgos@fgr.gob.sv)

Estimado Señor Fiscal General de la República,

Como miembro de la comunidad internacional, quiero expresar mi profunda preocupación sobre las nuevas amenazas contra líderes sociales y los casos de violencia en Cabañas. Los casos de la Radio Victoria, Héctor Berríos, y el Centro de Investigación sobre Inversión y Comercio (CEICOM) son realmente asombrosos.

Por lo tanto, urge una investigación profunda y eficaz sobre las amenazas contra el personal de la Radio Victoria por aquellos que se han identificado como “un grupo de exterminio” y contra Héctor Berríos, para determinar quiénes son los autores materiales, intelectuales y financieros.  Las amenazas del “grupo” no son solo amenazas al personal de la Radio, sino también un ataque contra la libertad de expresión y el derecho a la información.

También, es necesario re-abrir los casos de Marcelo Rivera, Dora Alicia Sorto y Ramiro Rivera para investigar vínculos entre estos caso, las nuevas amenazas, y los asesinatos de Darwin Serrano y Gerardo Abrego León.

Finalmente, tomando en cuenta los nexos entre esta violencia y la lucha contra la minería,  los casos de agresión en contra del Centro de Investigación sobre Inversión y Comercio requieren una investigación profunda para identificar los autores materiales e intelectuales.

El hecho de que la violencia y amenazas que se dio en Cabañas en el 2009 y 2010 quedaron en impunidad ha permitido que surgieran los nuevos casos de violencia.  Pido que, por favor, tome las medidas necesarias para asegurar justicia y protección para los afectados.

Agradezco de antemano sus gestiones para agilizar las investigaciones y espero que pronto se haga justicia en estos casos.

Atentamente,
Your Name

Translation

As a member of the international community, I want to express my deep concern about the threats to social leaders and cases of violence in Cabañas. The Radio Victoria, Hector Berríos, and Center of Investigation into Investment and Business cases are really astonishing. That is why there is need for a thorough and efficient investigation into threats by people who have identified themselves as an “extermination group” towards the journalists of Radio Victoria and Hector Berríos, in order to determine who the material, intellectual and financial authors are. The demands of this “group” aren’t just threats towards the staff of the Radio, but also an attack against the freedom of expression and right to information.

Also, it is necessary to re-open the Marcelo Rivera, Dora Alicia Sorto, and Ramiro Rivera cases in order to investigate links between those cases, the new threats and the murders of Darwin Serrano and Gerardo Abrego León.

Finally, taking into account the ties between this violence and the anti-mining struggles, the cases of aggression towards Center of Investigation into Investment and Business require a thorough investigation to identify the material and intellectual authors.

The fact that the violence and threats that occurred in Cabañas in 2009 and 2010 were left in impunity has allowed the possibility for these new cases of violence. I ask that you please take the necessary measures to assure justice and protection for those affected.

Thank you for your efforts to facilitate the investigations and I hope that there is justice in these cases soon.

Sincerely,

Sample e-mail to David Morales, Director of Human Rights: dmorales@rree.gob.sv

Estimado Lic. Morales,

Le escribo hoy para expresar mi profunda preocupación sobre las nuevas amenazas contra líderes sociales y casos de violencia en Cabañas. Específicamente, las amenazas al personal de la Radio Victoria que no solo son una manera de intimidar y coaccionar, pero también son un ataque contra la libertad de expresión y el derecho a la información.

Por esta razón le pido que tome todas las medidas necesarias para cambiar la clasificación de las medidas cautelares para el personal de la Radio Victoria de Protección de Victimas a Protección de Personas Importantes.  Tomando en cuenta la gravedad de la situación y las experiencias de los y las líderes sociales, es importante que ellos tengan la mejor protección posible.

También, pido que extiendan las medidas cautelares a Pablo Ayala, Manuel Navarrete y Elvis Zabala, quienes han sido identificados como posibles blancos en las últimas amenazas.

Agradezco de antemano sus gestiones para agilizar estos trámites y espero un resultado favorable.

Atentamente,
Your Name

Translation

I am writing to express my profound concern about the new threats towards social leaders and cases of violence in Cabañas; specifically, the threats to the staff of Radio Victoria which aren’t just a tool for intimidation and coercion, but also an attack against freedom of expression and the right to information.

For this reason, I ask that you take all the necessary measures to change the classification of the protective measures for the staff of Radio Victoria from Victim Protection to Protection of Important People.  Taking into account the seriousness of the situation and the experiences of the social leaders, it’s important that they have best protection possible.

Also, I ask that protective measures be extended to Pablo Ayala, Manuel Navarrete and Elvis Zabala, who have been identified as targets in the recent threats.

I thank you for your efforts to facilitate these processes and I hope for a favorable result,

Sincerely,

Call Script for Attorney General Barahona (direct number for his assistant, Hector Burgos: 011-503- 2230-6350)

Buenos días/tardes.  Mi nombre es_______________________ y llamo para expresar mi preocupación sobre las nuevas amenazas contra líderes sociales y la violencia en Cabañas.  Los casos de la Radio Victoria, Héctor Berrios, y el Centro de Investigación sobre Inversión y Comercio (CEICOM) son realmente asombrosos.

Urge una investigación profunda sobre las amenazas de aquellos que se han identificado como “un grupo de exterminio,” así también es necesario re-abrir los casos de Marcelo Rivera, Dora Alicia Sorto y Ramiro Rivera para investigar vínculos entre estos caso, las nuevas amenazas y los asesinatos de Darwin Serrano y  Gerardo Abrego León.

El hecho de que la violencia y amenazas anteriores quedaron en impunidad ha permitido que surgieran los nuevos hechos de violencia.  Pido que el Fiscal General tome las medidas necesarias para asegurar justicia y protección para las y los afectados.

Call Script for David Morales, Director of Human Rights: 011-5003-2231-1143

Buenos días/tardes. Mi nombre es_______________________ y llamo para expresar mi profunda preocupación sobre las amenazas al personal de la Radio Victoria. Por esta razón le pido que tome todas las medidas necesarias para cambiar la clasificación de las medidas cautelares para el personal de la Radio Victoria de Protección de Victimas a Protección de Personas Importantes.  También, pido que extiendan las medidas cautelares a Pablo Ayala, Manuel Navarrete y Elvis Zabala, quienes han sido identificados como posibles blancos en las últimas amenazas. Gracias

Fecha: 
Miércoles, Enero 19, 2011 - Martes, Mayo 31, 2011