Wave of Repression continues in El Salvador with Death Squad-style Murders of FMLN Leaders
* Salvadoran Movement calls for international pressure for a timely and thorough investigation*
Alex Flores Montoya and Mercedes Peñate de Montoya, two well-known FMLN leaders, were found dead last Wednesday in the municipality of Coatepeque, department of Santa Ana. The husband and wife were traveling in their vehicle when they were intercepted by another vehicle. They were then forced to lay face down on the ground, each shot with a single bullet to the head, and abandoned in a nearby alley. Alex Flores Montoya was a teacher in two of the local public schools, and as an FMLN activist he served as the local FMLN board’s adjunct coordinator and ran for municipal council with the FMLN in the March 2006 elections. Mercedes Peñate de Montoya was also a recognized FMLN activist and former candidate to the FMLN municipal council in the March 2000 elections.
The FMLN denounced the death squad-style killings and is demanding a prompt and thorough investigation by the National Civilian Police (PNC) and the Attorney General’s Office (FGR). Luis Corvera, FMLN coordinator for the department of Santa Ana, said last Friday that the crime “cannot be left in impunity.” Corvera expressed the concerns of many Salvadorans saying that the murders are most likely political because the way in which the Montoyas were killed is typical of the Salvadoran death squads of the 1980’s.
Political violence in El Salvador has been escalating since the violence of July 5th, when police attacked a student protest against the rising cost of bus fare and two police officers were killed. That night the PNC illegally raided the union federation CSTS and tortured and illegaly detened union leader Daniel Ernesto Morales on July 5th, then on July 17th SETA (the water worker’s union) received a death threat signed by a supposed death squad group. In recent weeks, two “social-cleansing” death squads have reemerged in the western part of the country, and last Thursday the Salvadoran Army, spurred on by the ARENA rhetoric that has been calling the FMLN and its supporters “terrorists,” illegally occupied a rural organized community in San Vicente claiming they were looking for weapons. Meanwhile, nothing has been done in the investigation of the recent brutal murder of FMLN leader “Mariposa” Marina Manzanares’ parents in Suchitoto on July 1st, and the government has done nothing to address the evidence of death squad-like groups operating from within the PNC. (For details about the protest and violence, go to here or here for previous alerts, or check out our recent El Salvador updates here.
In the context of this escalating repression, the FMLN and Salvadoran social movement are calling for international solidarity to pressure the Attorney General’s office for a prompt and thorough investigation into the murders. Join us in demanding an end to the violence and respect for the right to organize in El Salvador – the social movement and international solidarity demand justice, not impunity, for the perpetrators of political repression!
1. Write to the Salvadoran Attorney General and demand that the office carry out a prompt and thorough investigation into both the most recent Montoya couple assassination and the July 1st Manzanares couple brutal murder. (see below for sample fax)
Sr. Félix Garrid Safie P., Fiscal General de La República de El Salvador -Fax: 011(503)2249 - 8607 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send a copy of your message and any reply to Krista Hanson at the CISPES National Office: email@example.com
2. Call your Congressional Representative to inform them of the continued political repression in El Salvador and ask that she or he follow up on the recent Dear Colleague letter that called on the U.S. State Department to investigate the Salvadoran police’s respect for human rights – the Capitol Hill switchboard is 202-224-3121. The letter, including the list of signers, is on-line here. [Note: Rep. Michaud signed on to the letter and should definitely be asked to call President Saca and Secretary Rice.]
Para: Sr. Félix Garrid Safie
Fiscal General de la República de El Salvador
011-503-2249 - 8607
29 de Agosto de 2006
Estimado Sr. Félix Garrid Safie,
Le escribo para expresarle mi grave preocupación sobre los asesinatos de Alex Flores Montoya y Mercedes Peñate de Montoya el pasado Miércoles, 23 de Agosto por horas de la tarde. Los esposos, quienes eran reconocidos líderes del FMLN, fueron asesinados con un disparo a la cabeza y abandonados en el caserío San Isidro, jurisdicción de Coatepeque. Ellos dejan en la orfandad a sus 3 hijos, de 17, 21 y 25 años de edad. El asesinato ocurre a unas cuantas semanas después del brutal asesinato de los esposos Manzanares, el 1ero de Julio en Suchitoto, quienes también militaban en el FMLN.
Ambos asesinatos fueron ejecutados en un estilo propio a los Escuadrones de la Muerte, grupos armados clandestinos que funcionaron con impunidad durante la guerra en El Salvador. El hecho que cada vez es más y más frecuente este estilo de asesinato, junto con el reaparecimiento de grupos de limpieza social como la Sombra Negra y el Comando Central Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, y denuncias de grupos de exterminio dentro de la Policía Nacional Civil, apunta a un peligroso retroceso en el respeto a los derechos humanos en El Salvador. Todo ello es aún más alarmante cuando la represión política va en aumento y las ejecuciones parecieran ser deliberadamente en contra de activistas políticos de izquierda.
Por lo tanto, le pido que la Fiscalía General de la República efectúe una pronta y profunda investigación de estos casos y que por ningún motivo queden en la impunidad. Además, la Fiscalía General de la República deberá investigar los móviles políticos detrás de estos asesinatos y no descartarlos de antemano como suele hacer. Estaré al tanto del desarrollo de la investigación, así como el posterior enjuiciamiento de los culpables, y mantendré mis congresistas informados sobre la represión política en El Salvador.
English version of sample fax (send Spanish version)
To: Mr. Félix Garrid Safie
Attorney General of the Republic of El Salvador
011-503-2249 - 8607
August 29, 2006
Dear Mr. Félix Garrid Safie,
I write you to express my grave concern with regards to the murders of Alex Flores Montoya and Mercedes Peñate de Montoya this past Wednesday, August 23rd. The couple, both of whom were recognized FMLN leaders, were killed with a single shot to the head and abandoned in the neighborhood of San Isidro, in the municipality of Coatepeque. They leave behind their 3 children, who are 17, 21 and 25 years old. These killings come just weeks after the brutal assassination on July 1st of the Manzanares, both of whom were also militants in the FMLN.
Both murders were carried out in the style of the death squads, armed clandestine groups that operated with impunity during the war in El Salvador. The fact that this type of murder is more and more frequent, as well as the resurgence of social cleansing groups like the Sombra Negra and the Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez Central Commando and the denouncements of extermination groups within the ranks of the National Civilian Police, all point to a dangerous setback in the respect for human rights in El Salvador. All of this is even more alarming when political repression in on the rise and these executions appear to be deliberately targeting political activists on the left.
Because of this, I ask the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic carry out a prompt and thorough investigation into these cases and that they are not left in impunity for any reason. Furthermore, the Attorney General’s Office should investigate the political motives behind these killings and not discard them a priori as is usual the case. I will be following the development of the investigations, as well as the subsequent judicial case against those responsible, and maintain my congressmen and women informed about political repression in El Salvador.