civil war, human rights, News Highlights, violence

Salvadoran Congress Approves New Law That Benefits War Criminals

Léelo en español

Salvadoran Congress Approves New Law That Benefits War Criminals

On the night of February 26, with 44 votes in Parliament, the right-wing parties ARENA, PCN and PDC, which have been allied for decades, joined once again to approve the so-called Special Law on Transitional Justice, Reparation and National Reconciliation, or Amnesty Law 2.0. This is more or less a replica of the original Amnesty Law that was passed by the same parties in 1993. With that Amnesty Law in place, the worst crimes committed during the civil war remained in impunity and it wasn’t until 2016, when the Legislative Assembly declared that law as unconstitutional that the opportunity to prosecute war crimes arose, like El Mozote, where the Salvadoran army massacred more than 1,000 civilians, mostly women and children. In addition to the government’s many war crimes, crimes committed by death squads and other paramilitary groups linked to the Salvadoran State were also open for prosecution after the 2016 annulment.

According to various human rights organizations and those that support victims of the armed conflict, with the approval of this new law, impunity is again being favored. Under said law, war criminals could benefit from reductions or outright cancellations of penalties, if the defendants apologize for their crimes and collaborate with the justice system. It also states that a judge can abolish a prison sentence for reasons of age, health or the like, although it does not clearly specify the age or health conditions to which it refers.

Regarding this law, Amnesty International had this to say: “The Legislative Assembly of El Salvador did not pass a law, it approved a pact of impunity that seeks to ensure that those who have committed serious human rights violations during the armed conflict are not brought before justice and sanctioned for the atrocities they committed.” In similar terms, David Morales, a former Human Rights ombudsman and current member of CRISTOSAL, said: “The vote of the 44 deputies who today legitimized the massacres and atrocities of war is also a violation of human rights. Now they will be subject to internal constitutional control and international supervision, their infamous act is now part of our historical memory.”

For its part, the FMLN refrained from voting, which was described by the newspaper El Faro as a surprise, considering that on this issue the leftist party has recently “moved away from its historical discourse and has oscillated between different positions.” In fact, two members of the FMLN party who decided to speak to El Faro on the condition of anonymity, claimed that at this time the party is divided between those who support the text of the law and those who condemn it, which led them to ultimately abstain from voting.

Another criticism of the Special Law on Transitional Justice, Reparation and National Reconciliation is that it was formulated, negotiated and approved behind the backs of organizations that have been working for decades to achieve justice for the civil war victims. According to the Bureau Against Impunity in El Salvador, this is most likely due to the favoring of the perpetrators who seek loopholes to avoid prison sentences or penalties that will affect their financial assets, even if it is proven in fair trials that they have murdered, tortured or disappeared thousands of people.

Fortunately, President Bukele has already announced that said law will be vetoed and therefore cannot become the law of the republic. He tweeted: “The Presidency of the Republic will not sanction any law that does not contain the fundamental elements to be fair and constitutional: 1. Truth 2. Reparation 3. Justice. The bill that the @AsaAssemblySV intends to approve does not meet any of these three elements.”

If the veto occurs, the bill would return to the Legislative Assembly, which will have the option of overturning the President’s veto, a move requiring a 2/3 vote but given the correlation of force in Parliament, this seems unattainable. Moving forward, the deputies will have to formulate a new law, which we hope will be oriented to protect the victims and not the perpetrators.

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El Congreso Salvadoreño Aprueba una Nueva Ley que Beneficia a los Criminales de Guerra

En la noche del 26 de febrero, con 44 votos en el Parlamento, los partidos de derecha ARENA, PCN y PDC, que se han aliado durante décadas, se unieron una vez más para aprobar la llamada Ley Especial de Justicia Transicional, Reparación y Reconciliación Nacional o Ley de Amnistía 2.0. Esta es más o menos una réplica de la Ley de Amnistía original que fue aprobada por las mismas partes en 1993. Con la Ley de Amnistía anterior, los peores crímenes cometidos durante la guerra civil permanecieron en la impunidad y no fue hasta 2016, cuando el Legislativo La Asamblea declaró esa ley como inconstitucional que surgió la oportunidad de enjuiciar crímenes de guerra, como El Mozote, donde el ejército salvadoreño masacró a más de 1,000 civiles, en su mayoría mujeres y niños. Además de los muchos crímenes de guerra del gobierno, los crímenes cometidos por escuadrones de la muerte y otros grupos paramilitares vinculados al Estado salvadoreño también estaban abiertos a juicio después de la anulación de 2016.

No obstante, con la aprobación de la Ley Especial de Justicia Transicional, Reparación y Reconciliación Nacional, según diferentes organizaciones de derechos humanos y de víctimas del conflicto armado, se favorece nuevamente la impunidad, pues según dicha ley, los criminales de guerra podrían beneficiarse con reducciones y anulación de penas, si los acusados piden perdón por sus crímenes y colaboran con la justicia. También establece que un juez puede abolir una pena de prisión por motivos de edad, salud o similares, aunque no especifica claramente la edad ni las condiciones de salud a las que se refiere.

La reconocida organización Amnistía Internacional, al respecto de esta ley expresó: “La Asamblea Legislativa de El Salvador no aprobó una ley, aprobó un pacto de impunidad que busca que quienes cometieron graves violaciones a los derechos humanos durante el conflicto armado no sean llevados ante la justicia y sancionados por las atrocidades cometidas”. En similares términos se expresó el ex procurador de Derechos Humanos y actualmente integrante de la organización Cristosal, David Morales, quien dijo: “El voto de los 44 diputados que legitimaron hoy las masacres y atrocidades de la guerra, es también una violación de los Derechos Humanos. Ahora serán sometidos al control interno constitucional y a la supervisión internacional, su acto infame ahora es parte de nuestra memoria histórica.” Por su parte el FMLN se abstuvo de votar, lo cual fue calificado por el periódico El Faro como una sorpresa, considerando que en este tema el partido de izquierda se ha alejado de su discurso histórico y ha oscilado entre distintas posturas, de hecho este medio de comunicación publicó que dos diputados del FMLN que decidieron hablar bajo anonimato aseguraron que a último momento se dividió el partido entre quienes apoyaban el texto de la ley  y quienes lo condenaban, y finalmente optaron por abstenerse.

Otro de los cuestionamientos a la Ley es que se formuló, negoció y aprobó a espaldas de las organizaciones que por décadas han reinvindicado los derechos de las víctimas, según la Mesa contra la Impunidad en El Salvador, instancia conformada por más de 20 prestigiosas organizaciones de la sociedad civil, esto se debe probablemente al interés de  favorecer a victimarios, buscando fórmulas para evitar penas de prisión o afectación de sus patrimonios, aún si se demuestra en juicios justos que asesinaron, torturaron o desparecieron a miles de personas.

 Afortunadamente el Presidente ya anunció que dicha ley será vetada y por tanto no podrá convertirse en ley de la república. “La Presidencia de la República no sancionará ninguna ley que no contenga 3 elementos fundamentales para que sea justa y constitucional: 1. Verdad 2. Reparación 3. Justicia. El proyecto de ley que pretende aprobar la @AsambleaSV no cumple ninguno de estos 3 elementos”, escribió el mandatario en su cuenta de Twitter.

Si ocurre el veto, el proyecto de ley regresaría a la Asamblea Legislativa, instancia que tendrá la opción de superar el veto del Presidente, para la cual requiere los votos de 2 terceras partes de los diputados y dada la correlación de fuerza en el Parlamento, esto parece inalcanzable, de manera que los diputados tendrán que formular una nueva ley, esperando que sea orientada a proteger a las víctimas y no a los victimarios.

 

Fundraising Campaign, violence

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El Salvador Government, Organized Crime, violence

The Issue of Forced Internal Displacement in El Salvador

Today, Cristosal held a public forum where they presented their most recent report intitled “Visibilize the Invisible, Footprints Conceal Violence, Report of ineternal displacement forced by violence in El Salvador in 2017.”
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The report is a recollection and analysis of cases of forced displacement due to violence registered by the CRISTOSAL Foundation with the help of Foundation Quetzalcoatl in 2017 on El Salvador. They also had significant support from The Salvaodran Women’s Institue (ISDEMU) and the Salvaodran Human Rights Ombudsman(PPDH)

The report can be found online HERE and you can find the report they published last year on the same subject HERE. As Celia Medrano, CRISTOSAL’s chief program officer stated in her opening remarks, that “while it important to create an multi-setor response, this phenomena must be an immediate priority for the Salvadoran government.

Below is a graphic taken from the report

In 2017, 701 cases were recorded by both CRISTOAL and Fondation Quetzalcoatl. The majority of victims were women, with two or more children to care for, and hailing from the paracentral region of the country, specifically San Salvador and Soyapango; two regions ravaged by activity.

Reasons for displacement vary but the report has identified the three major motivators in El Salvador to be direct threats, homicides and attempted.

It is important to note that the this report, while extensive, doesn’t 100% coincide with the much lower figures represented by the Salvadoran Government and more specifically the national civil police (PNC). The government representative today said that while they defend their method of analysis, they recognize their lack of awareness on such a “multifaceted phenomenon.”

Many instances of forced displacenmtn are not recorded due to fear of retaliation or lack of confidence in the governments abilities to protect them. The report describes how the majority of these victims wish to stay not only in El Salvador, but in the same states, as to not loose their occupations and support systems. Still, the United National Refugee Agency (ACNUR) has reported a significant increase in Salvadoran asylum seekers, as seen below.
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The report calls upon civil society, national and international organizations and especially national and municipal governments to create “an intergrated system that focuses on prevention, mobilization and policies that protect victims and their families.”

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Corruption, violence, women & girls

Marielle Franco was Murderd by the State for her Human Rights Work in Brazil

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We lament in the assassination of Marielle Franco, an Afro-Brazilian sociologist and politician gunned down in Rio de Janeiro the night of March 14th by masked men while sitting in a car with her driver, who was also killed in the attack. Marielle was a prolific activist, a hard-hitting politician and constant voice for the impoverished.

Marielle grew up in favela in northern Rio de Janeiro, and became a rising luminary in activism and politics, a rare status for a black woman from a marginalized community. In 2016, she was elected as a member of the left-leaning Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) known for her social work with the poor and marginalized, and for her outspokenness against police violence disproportionately targeting black Brazilians.

Hours before her murder, during a panel discussion on women’s empowerment, she uttered the quote by Audre Lorde: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

Her cowardly murder has taken place two years and 10 days after the execution of Berta Cáceres, a Honduran environmental activist killed by Honduran state actors.

We stand in solidarity with the tens of thousands of protesters in Brazil and around the world and denounce this obvious state-sanctioned slaying and demand justice for Marielle Franco, justice for Berta Cáceres and for the hundreds of land, environmental and human rights activists needlessly slain by their own states over the past decade.

Marielle, rest in power.

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Protesting the assassination of Marielle Franco, Rio de Janeiro

#MariellePresente    #NiUnMenos    #VivasNosQueremos    #JusticiaParaMarielleFranco

agriculture, Climate Change, Corruption, Disasters, Economy, El Salvador Government, Environment, Food Security, International Relations, Mining, Partnership for Growth, Public Health, transparency, Uncategorized, violence, Voices Developments

El Salvador’s Metal Mining Debate

Versión Español

In 2002, the Canadian corporation Pacific Rim registered in El Salvador. It was invited by the Salvadoran government to exploit the potential of the country in terms of gold and silver. Pacific Rim identified at least 25 favorable sites for the extraction of gold, in the beginning of its explorations. One of these sites is known as El Dorado, in the department of Cabañas. In December 2004, the company formally requested permission to operate the El Dorado mine, but the government denied permission for inconsistencies in the environmental impact study, and because the company did not have the authorization of the owners of the land where the exploitation of gold and silver would be carried out.

In response to the Salvadoran government’s refusal to grant the El Dorado project exploitation permit, in July 2008, Pacific Rim filed a lawsuit against the Salvadoran government through the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

The company demanded El Salvador pay them $77 million for the amount invested before they were denied the authorization permit. Later this requirement was increased to $301 million and finally reduced to $250 million. At the end of 2013, Pacific Rim filed for bankruptcy and sold its shares to the Australian transnational company Oceana Gold, which continued the lawsuit process.

After a long litigation, on October 14, 2016, the international court ruled in favor of the Salvadoran government and against the mining company. The verdict also determined that the company must compensate with $8 million to the Salvadoran government to cover the procedural costs of the litigation.

Following this ruling, on November 24, 2016, the Movement of Victims Affected by Climate Change and Corporations (MOVIAC), submitted a letter to the Legislative Assembly requesting a ban on all metal mining in the country. This request opened an intense debate that is increasingly gaining strength. On February 6, the Central American University José Simeón Cañas (UCA) and the Catholic Church presented a proposal for a law to ban metal mining.

The request for a ban is justified by the serious social and ecological impacts caused by the mining industry and by the high degree of pollution and environmental deterioration that the country is currently suffering. According to international experts, El Salvador is the country with the most environmental deterioration in the continent, after Haiti. The United Nations has described El Salvador as the country with the least amount of water available throughout the continent, while the Ministry of the Environment has reported that more than 90% of surface water is seriously contaminated and only 10% are suitable for use as potable.

This water crisis could become much more serious if gold and silver mining projects are located in the basin of the river Lempa, which is the most important river in the country. Its basin makes up 50% of the national territory, and houses 70% of the country’s population.

El Salvador is the only country in Central America that does not have mineral exploitation and in an opinion poll conducted by the UCA in June 2015, 76% of the population is against the opening of mining projects. Despite this opposition, there is great pressure from transnational companies to initiate gold and silver mining projects. This of course is due to the findings from Pacific Rim that discovered approximatly 1.2 million ounces of high-purity gold and more than 7.5 million ounces of silver in the subsoil of the northern part of the country. In addition to another 558 thousand ounces of gold and 1.2 million silver of lower quality.

Apparently this is a good thing; however, experience in neighboring countries such as Guatemala and Honduras demonstrates how harmful the mining industry is to people and the environment. Especially when it comes to water resources. According to a recent UCA publication, the Marlin mine in Guatemala uses about 6 million liters of water per day; and nearby communities have reported 40 dry communal wells in the eight years of the mine’s operations. Likewise in the region of Valle de Siria in Honduras, the San Martín mine has dried 19 of the original 23 rivers in the area throughout its’ nine years of operation.

These effects could be worse in El Salvador, due to the fragility of its ecosystems and the population density of around 300 inhabitants per square kilometer. In these circumstances the human rights of the population would be seriously affected. In this regard, the Attorney for the Defense of Human Rights (PDDH), in a recent statement said: “The harmful effects of mining activity constitute serious violations of the human rights of the population. Among them is the right to life, health, water and food. The concern persists because the mining industry still has an interest in developing its projects in the country and there is no legislation or institutional mechanisms to guarantee the protection of the environment against mining activity.”

The interest of the mining industry to which the PDDH refers to is manifested in a series of actions carried out by the mining company Oceana Gold, which MOVIAC has repeatedly denounced. For instance, in a letter delivered to the Legislative Assembly on November 24, 2016, MOVIAC states: “We know that in all the impoverished countries of the world, transnational mining companies use the same strategies: division of communities, murder of environmentalists, bribing corrupt officials and false media campaigns such as the promises of job creation and social development. The truth is that mining does not generate more jobs than it destroys. Where there is mining there is no agriculture, there is no livestock, there is no tourism, there is no health, there are no peaceful or free communities.”

For all these reasons at the moment, in El Salvador there is a strong debate about the need to pass a law that definitively prohibits metal mining.


El Salvador Debate la Prohibición de la Minería Metálica

En el año 2002 la corporación canadiense Pacific Rim se registró en El Salvador, invitada por el gobierno, para explotar el potencial del país en cuanto a oro y  plata. Desde el inicio en sus exploraciones, la minera identificó al menos 25 sitios propicios para la extracción de oro, uno de estos es el lugar conocido como  El Dorado, en el departamento de Cabañas. En Diciembre de 2004 la empresa solicitó formalmente el permiso de explotación de la mina El Dorado, el gobierno negó el permiso por inconsistencias en el estudio de impacto ambiental y porque la empresa no contaba con la autorización de los propietarios de las tierras en donde se realizaría la explotación del oro y la plata.

Ante la negativa del gobierno salvadoreño de no conceder el permiso de explotación del proyecto El Dorado,  en julio de 2008Pacific Rim inicia una demanda contra el Estado salvadoreño, en El Centro Internacional de Arreglo de Diferencias Relativas a Inversiones (CIADI) del Banco Mundial.

La petición pedía que el Estado salvadoreño le pagara $77 millones de dólares, por el monto invertido antes de que se le negara la autorización de explotación, más tarde esta exigencia fue incrementada a $ 301 millones y finalmente se redujo a $ 250 millones. A finales de  2013, Pacific Rim se declaró en quiebra y vendió sus acciones a la transnacional Australiana Oceana Gold, quien continuó el proceso de demanda.

Después de un largo litigio, el 14 de octubre de 2016, el tribunal internacional falló a favor del Estado salvadoreño y en contra de la empresa minera. El veredicto también determinó que la empresa deberá indemnizar con 8 millones de dólares al gobierno salvadoreño para cubrir los costos procesales del litigio.

A raíz de este fallo, el 24 de noviembre de 2016 el Movimiento de Víctimas y Afectados por el Cambio Climático y Corporaciones MOVIAC, presentó un escrito a la Asamblea Legislativa solicitando la prohibición de la minería metálica en el país. Está petición abrió un intenso debate que cada vez está cobrando más fuerza. El 6 de febrero la Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, UCA y la Iglesia Católica presentaron una propuesta de ley de prohibición de la minería metálica.

La solicitud de prohibición se justifica por los graves impactos sociales y ecológicos que ocasiona la industria minera y por el alto grado de contaminación y deterioro ambiental que ya sufre el país. Según expertos internacionales El Salvador es el país del continente con mayor deterioro ambiental, después de Haití. Las Naciones Unidas ha calificado a El Salvador como el país con menos disponibilidad de agua de todo el continente, y el Ministerio de Medio Ambiente ha informado que más del 90% de las agua superficiales están seriamente contaminadas y que sólo el 10%  son aptas para potabilizar por medios convencionales.

Esta situación de crisis hídrica podría ser mucho más grave si se concretan proyectos de explotación de oro y plata ubicados en la cuenca del río Lempa, que es el río más importante del país, su cuenca comprende el 50% del territorio nacional, en donde habita el 70% de la población del país.

El Salvador es el único país de Centroamérica que no posee explotación de minerales y en una encuesta de opinión realizada por la Universidad Centroamericana UCA,  en junio de 2015, el 76% de la población está en contra de la apertura de proyectos mineros; no obstante se tiene gran presión de empresas transnacionales para iniciar proyectos de extracción de oro y plata, ya que según la exploraciones realizada por la empresa Pacific Rim, en el subsuelo de la zona norte del país existe un aproximado de 1.2 millones de onzas de oro de alta pureza y más de  7.5 millones de onzas de plata. Además de otras 558 mil onzas de oro y 1.2 millones de plata de menor calidad.

En apariencia esto es algo bueno; sin embargo, la experiencia en países vecinos como Guatemala y Honduras demuestra lo dañina que es la industria minera para las personas y para el medio ambiente, especialmente en el recurso hídrico. Según una publicación de la Universidad Centroamericana, UCA la mina Marlín, en Guatemala utiliza unos 6 millones de litros de agua por día, las comunidades que viven cerca reportan 40 pozos comunales secos en los ocho años de operaciones de la mina; así mismo en la región Valle de Siria en Honduras la mina San Martín en nueve años de operaciones ha secado 19 de los 23 ríos originales de la zona.

Estas afectaciones podrían ser peores en El Salvador, por la fragilidad de sus ecosistemas y por la densidad poblacional cercana a los 300 habitantes por kilómetro cuadrado, en estas circunstancias los derechos humanos de la población serían gravemente afectados. Al respecto la Procuraduría para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, en un comunicado reciente expresó que: “los efectos nocivos de la actividad minera constituyen graves violaciones a los derechos humanos de la población; entre estos al derecho a la vida, a la salud, al agua y a la alimentación. La preocupación persiste porque aún concurre el interés de la industria minera de desarrollar sus proyectos en el país y no se cuenta con una legislación  ni mecanismos institucionales que garanticen la protección del medio ambiente ante la actividad minera”

El interés de la industria minera al que hace referencia la PDDH se manifiesta en una serie de acciones que lleva a cabo la empresa minera Oceana Gold, las cuales el Movimiento de Víctimas y Afectados por e Cambio Climático y as Corporaciones, MOVIAC ha denunciado en reiterada ocasiones, por ejemplo en una carta entregada a la Asamblea Legislativa el 24 de noviembre de 2016, el MOVIAC expone: “Conocemos que en todos los países empobrecidos del mundo, las transnacionales mineras emplean las mismas estrategias: división de las comunidades, asesinato de ambientalistas, compra de funcionarios corruptos y campañas mediáticas mentirosas como lo son las promesas de generación de empleo y de desarrollo social. La verdad es que la minería no genera más empleo que el que destruye, donde hay minería no hay agricultura, no hay ganadería, no hay turismo, no hay salud, no hay comunidades pacíficas ni libres”.

Por todas estas razones en el momento actual, en El  Salvador se debate fuertemente la necesidad de aprobar una ley que prohíba definitivamente la minería metálica.

violence

Extrajudicial Killings in El Salvador

This week, El Salvador’s Ombudsman for Human Rights, David Morales, reported that police and military forces likely committed extrajudicial executions on at least two separate occasions last year. One was the March 2015 massacre at the San Blas Finca in which security forces killed at least eight alleged gang members. The other was an August 2015 massacre at Los Pajales in Panchimalco in which security forces killed five alleged gang members.

The Ombudsman announced that, “in both cases we concluded that there were extrajudicial executions.” They reached their findings based on evidence that police moved bodies to make the scene appear like a shootout. In addition, some of the bodies showed signs of being beaten prior to being shot. Of the 13 killed in these two incidents, 4 were minors under the age of 18.

The Ombudsman also said that his office is reviewing 30 other incidents involving 100 deaths that they suspect to be cases of extrajudicial killings.

The allegations are not new. Experts have long suspected f that many of the shootouts reported in the papers are actually extrajudicial killings committed by police and military. Because the victims are reported to be gang members, few citizens or government officials ask questions or demand more information.

The Ombudsman’s announcement comes just over a year after President Sánchez Cerén’s administration said publicly that the police should use their weapons in defending against gangs without fearing that they will “suffer consequences.”

The question of extrajudicial killings of alleged gang members goes beyond on-duty police and military forces. In January 2016, the Ombudsman for Human Rights said, “in this country we see that there exists a pattern of violence concerning death squads. According to our observations as the Ombudsman’s Office, I presume the existence of these groups, it is very likely that they are in operation.” Just in the past year and a half, extermination groups have taken to social media to claim responsibility for many homicides of alleged gang members, but they are not investigated and the perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity.

As the Ombudsman announces their findings of extrajudicial killings, the government is doubling down on the use of force to combat gangs. The government recently deployed a special combat force to attack gangs in rural areas. It is comprised of 600 elite military soldiers and 400 members of the police, and will start by focusing on hard to reach rural areas where they believe that gangs are operating. Vice President Oscar Ortiz said, “This is a firm action that says to the gangs that the State is stronger.”

In addition, last week the Legislative Assembly passed reforms to the Penal Code and other laws making it illegal to provide aid to or act as a intermediary for gangs. It also makes it a crime for government officials to agree not to prosecute gangs or in any way negotiate with gang members. The penalty for being found guilty of violating these laws is up to 15 years in prison. Raul Mejango said the reforms “burn all boats that could somehow afford to find other solutions to this problem [of violence], betting solely on repression as the solution, and historically this has proven not to resolve the problem.”

What is especially terrible about extrajudicial killings, extermination groups, use of Special Forces, and the new laws is that repression and force this is the only approach the government is taking to addressing insecurity in El Salvador. Salvadorans need more. El Salvador is among the most violent countries in the world, and instead of moving towards long-term solutions, or even identifying the roots of the violence, the government is responding with even more violence and more repression.

The gang issue is complicated, and the violence and extortion perpetrated by these groups destroy communities around the country. Voices on the Border staff has seen this first hand. But reverting to wartime tactics will only lead to more violence and more violence. Gangs exist, at least in part, because there is a void created by socio-economic and political inequalities. Even if a militarized solution led to the destruction of the gangs, something else less than positive would take their place. And even in war, extrajudicial killings like those being reported by the Ombudsman for Human Rights would be a war crime and should be punished.

violence

Israel Quintanilla, President of ALGES, and his son Alberto Zavala Found Dead

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Voices on the Border is sad to report that officials have found the bodies Mr. Ismael Quintanilla, the President of the Salvadoran Association of War Wounded (ALGES) and his son Alberto Zavala. They were disappeared Friday Afternoon, and their bodies found Monday.

ALGES, has been a historic partner of Voices on the Border and this tragic news causes us great sadness. We express our solidarity with the family and ALGES.

We also express our great concern for the growing violence in El Salvador, and the danger that citizens and social organizations experience daily.

Voices on the Border testifies to Mr. Quintanilla and ALGES’s tireless and courageous work over the decades, advocating for the rights of all people with disabilities from El Salvador’s 12-year civil war. Their work has put ALGES leaders at great risk over the years.

We would like to rule out that Mr. Quintanilla and his son were killed for the political advocacy work that ALGES has been involved in over the years, and demand that the Salvadoran Government take immediate action to find those responsible for their deaths.