Last Friday, July 24, one hundred and eight international organizations sent a letter to El Salvador’s Acting Attorney General, Ástor Escalante Savaria, demanding an exhaustive investigation of the kidnapping and brutal murder of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera Moreno. Among the signatory organizations are the Salvadoran American National Association (SANA) and the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA). Gustavo Marcelo Rivera was from San Isidro, Department of Cabañas. He disappeared on June 18th and his body was found 11 days later with signs of terrible torture according to a forensic report. In the letter the organizations vehemently reject the statements that prosecutor Rodolfo Delgado gave to the media, expressing that the hypothesis of the crime is that Rivera was killed by gang members after a disagreement.
According to the organizations, by attributing the motives of the crime to common violence, the prosecutor is discarding a priori the existence of intellectual authors of this assassination. Rivera was a renowned leader in the struggle against mining in El Salvador and in addition he played a key role at denouncing the electoral fraud that resulted in the suspension of the municipal elections in San Isidro in January 2009. For this reason the international organizations consider that there is enough evidence to suggest that that the crime was committed for political reasons and that “the failure to investigate this motives , including the slow response of the police in the initial search for Marcelo constitute serious irregularities that need to be investigated and corrected.”
Therefore, as representatives of the international community, the 108 organizations call on the Office of the Attorney General to carry out an impartial, exhaustive, and effective investigation in order to bring to justice the intellectual and material authors of this horrendous crime, and prevent these tragedies from happening again. It is alarming that in the last weeks, several activists including three young reporters from Radio Victoria have received death threats for publicly denouncing the mining activities. This shows the urgency for a through investigation. The international organizations state that “If Marcelo’s murder is left in a state of impunity, it will generate a climate of intimidation and uncertainty for social leaders and activists, undermining the advances in the democratic process in El Salvador.”
The organizations also sent copies of the letter to following authorities: Salvadoran President, Mauricio Funes; the Ministry of Governability, Humberto Centeno; the Director of the National Civil Police, Carlos Ascencio; the Chief of Public Safety- San Isidro Delegation, Saúl Venegas; the Charge d’Affaires, US Embassy to El Salvador, Robert Blau; and the Canadian Ambassador to El Salvador, Claire Poulin.