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News :: Human Rights : International
Political Violence Increases in El Salvador
03 Aug 2008
As student groups prepare to commemorate the anniversary of an infamous massacre of students by government forces on July 30, 1975, political violence continues in El Salvador 33 years later. In the last two years, social organizations, human rights monitors, community groups and the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) political party have publically denounced the alarming increase in politically-motivated assassinations of their members and leadership.
2008 has been particularly violent for organized sectors of the population. Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than a half dozen murders that, though unresolved, seem to be political in nature. The Salvadoran population in general continues to be affected by the assassinations of community leaders, including the recent murder of Holman Riva. According to police reports, Riva, an employee of the FMLN’s municipal government in the municipality of Ilopango, was killed on July 2, along with his nephew. The victims were taken from their home in the middle of the night and shot with nine bullets each.

Student activist Ángel Martínez Cerón was killed in a similar fashion on July 26 in the city of Santa Ana, located in western El Salvador. Martínez Cerón, coordinator of the January 24 Revolutionary Socialist Student Bloc, was shot eight times before his assassins delivered a final bullet to the head. According to statements made by the Student Bloc, other members of the organization have been detained and harassed by agents of the National Civilian Police (PNC). Just days before Martínez Cerón’s death, PNC officers had searched the youth’s home, arresting him, his brother, and another member of the organization. Police harassment of the young activists followed a series of protests against bus far increases in Santa Ana.

These recent assassinations come in the wake of a series of murders of activists and opposition politicians earlier this year. Héctor Ventura, who had been cleared of terrorism charges in February after participating in a protest against water privatization last summer, was killed in his home on May 2. In January, the mayor of Alegría, Wilber Funes, was killed alongside municipal employee Zulma Rivera. The young, popular mayor had planned to run for reelection as a member of the FMLN party in 2009. Referring to these assassinations, FMLN deputy Benito Lara recently stated that “here we have various cases that remain unresolved, unclear, and it is difficult for us to accept the theory that these are merely cases of common crime.”

In spite of national and international outcry, Salvadoran authorities have yet to respond to calls for serious investigations into each one of these cases. To this date, each of the cases remains in impunity.
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