The rhetoric of the left-wing in El Salvador in recent months continues to echo a refrain that violence is being perpetrated against activists in popular social movements as part of an ultra-right-wing campaign. Unexplained murders raise the spectre of the return of "escuadrones de la muerte," the Death Squads of the 1970s and 1980s. Such rhetoric is useful for rallying the faithful, but does it reflect a reality in El Salvador? Here are some of the events to which persons on the Left point in support of their fears:
- Salvadoran-born American citizen and labor activist, Gilberto Soto, is murdered while visiting El Salvador to discuss unionizing container truck drivers in the country. More here.
- The Procurator for the Defense of Human Rights receives death threats after reporting irregularities in the investigation of the Gilberto Soto murder. More here.
- The security guard of the Salvadoran Lutheran University is murdered, after being tortured, bound, and hung from a tree in a style reminiscent of death squads. The Lutheran church in El Salvador has been an outspoken critic of the political powers in the country. More here and here.
- One of the few independent voices of journalism in the county, Mauricio Funes, is fired from his popular interview show on Channel 12 at the direction of the Mexican TV conglomerate, Azteca. More here.
- During the month of January, members of 5 different Salvadoran NGO's are murdered in different parts of the country. More here.
- On February 18, Mauricio Portillo, an unionist and representative of the STISS healthcare workers union in Santa Ana is murdered. More here.
- The President of the country places a wreath in homage to Roberto D'Aubuisson, founder of death squads and the man who ordered the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. More here.
At the same time, there is a wave of homicides continuing to sweep the country involving gangs and what the Saca government calls "social violence." In the polarized atmosphere of El Salvador, people who want to find patterns and plots and conspiracies can probably find them. People who want to hide their plots and conspiracies in the midst of the country's other crime problems can probably hide them.