Numerous civil society organizations in El Salvador are rejecting the hypothesis of the police that Marcelo Rivera was murdered by gang members he knew after talking and drinking with them. Rivera was a prominent activist who had denounced election fraud and protested the possibility of gold mining in the country. The civil society groups are complaining that the police have completely discounted any link between enemies made by Rivera's activism and his violent death.
The website World War 4 Report states:
The victim's brother, Miguel Rivera, dismissed the gang violence explanation. "Saying that my brother died at the hands of gang members is an unbelievable story and becomes a mockery for my family. My brother was tortured. He was alive for nine days after his disappearance. His trachea was broken by a nylon cord that strangled him, pushing his arm up to his face. This is not an act of gang members. It is torture."
Rivera was director of the Casa de Cultura in San Isidro, and was active in social justice and environmental struggles. Friends and family members report that he received many threats in response to his public denunciations of San Isidro Mayor Ignacio Bautista of the ARENA party. Rivera was vocal in his stance against attempted fraud in the municipal and legislative elections of Jan. 18, which led community members to shut down the town's voting centers, forcing a make-up election to be held the following week. Rivera was also active in the national movement against mining projects that threaten El Salvador's principal watersheds.
With a new government, a new head to the National Police, and a new attorney general, this case will be worth watching to determine whether a greater number of murders, particularly those which might have a political connection, are solved to the satisfaction of all interested parties. Prior cases under the ARENA administrations, like the cases of Gilberto Soto or the Manzanares family, have left many unanswered questions.