Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gilberto Soto case reopened in El Salvador

The legal case over the murder of Salvadoran-American Teamster organizer Gilberto Soto
is being reopened. From Mike Hitchens' blog:

Recently elected Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes ordered the reopening of the case following requests from labor and government officials to follow through on his promise to strengthen the judicial system and crack down on crime in El Salvador by bringing Soto's murderers to justice.

"President Funes has taken an important first step in strengthening human rights in El Salvador," [Teamster President James] Hoffa said. "The violence against trade unionists in El Salvador and across Central and South America has been allowed to go unchecked for far too long. Gilberto Soto's murderers must not be allowed to remain free if the Salvadoran government seeks to make significant strides in strengthening democratic institutions."...

In an interview with a Salvadoran newspaper, former Salvadoran Human Rights Ombudswoman Beatrice Allamani de Carrillo expressed her satisfaction with the reopening of the case, indicating that it confirms the findings in a report she and her staff originally submitted to authorities.

"Now the Office of the Attorney General has the responsibility to conduct a sound investigation," said De Carrillo, who has long contended that Soto was murdered because of his trade union activities.

Soto was shot in the back and killed while visiting Usulutan on union business on November 5, 2004. To date, the police have done little to apprehend what appears to be a death squad that killed the union representative. In fact, in De Carrillo's report, the former ombudswoman charged that the police had perpetrated a cover up rather than conduct an exhaustive investigation. A prominent figure involved in organizing port drivers in the United States, Soto was visiting El Salvador on behalf of the Teamsters to meet with Central American trade union leaders and port drivers.

3 comments:

billmart said...

We just hope that with this investigation, a whole new era of other investigation can be initiated since there has been a series of criminal activities carried out by what is been known as Death Squads type of crimes and so far previous admininstration have been reluctant to conduct any follow up confirming what many of us in El Salvador have always suspected about high levels of authorities inside the PNC and the right wing paramilitary organizations are behind of these type of events.

Solavá said...

I remember that someone from an international labor organization, linked to the UN, I believe, came to El Salvador and followed the original investigation on the the murder of Gilberto Soto very closely, and concluded that Soto was NOT "murdered because of his trade union activities". And that, in fact, despite the technically lousy investigation by the Attorney General, the conclusion that his murder was linked to a family dispute was correct. Does anybody knows what am I talking about? I just can't find that report anymore. Which international labor organization could have followed this investigation? I clearly remember reading this report.

My interest in this has nothing to do with the Soto case, but I just want to know under what terms can a foreign outsider observe an ongoing criminal investigation in El Salvador. I mean, journalists in the country are not allowed to do this, so why would someone from the UN or whatever have access to an open investigation.

dc498 said...

Who are we kidding? We are talking about organizing the World's most powerful marine transportation industry drivers...Even Hoffa would have been killed. I believe the Union should have foreseen this event....I know I did when I learned he was there for the purpose of making exploratory meetings. You are willing to pay a witness $75K after the facts, not a security detail before the facts...lesson to be learned.