There has once again been an unexplained murder of an environmental activist the department of Cabañas where conflict over proposed gold mining continues. The conflict has already claimed several lives. The following is from the staff of Radio Victoria, a progressive community radio station in Cabañas:
On June 2, in the city of Ilobasco, Cabañas, thirty year-old Juan Francisco Duran Ayala was putting up flyers and banners that asked for the approval of a law against metal mining and for the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim to leave Cabañas as part of a Cabañas Environmental Committee (CAC) campaign. The CAC reports that the mayor of Ilobasco, José Maria Dimas Castellano, ordered members of the municipal police to remove the banners and intimidate the activists that were hanging them. The next day Juan Francisco left for his classes at the Technological University in San Salvador and was not heard from again.Solidarity organizations have commenced a campaign to demand a thorough investigation of this murder and the earlier unsolved murders of activists in the region.
Yesterday we received word that Juan Francisco Duran Ayala's body was located and today there has been a positive identification of his body. The Coroner says he died from a bullet in the head.
This murder comes 2 years after the kidnapping and murder of anti-mining activist Marcelo Rivera, and the murders of 2 other CAC activists, Ramiro Rivera y Dora Alica Sorto.
We believe that as long as the earlier cases continue without investigative results leading to the intellectual authors, impunity will continue to reign allowing continued actions of intimidation and violence in Cabañas.
Juan Francisco’s father Benjamin Ayala Flores is the Coordinator of the FMLN war veterans association in Ilobasco. He lives in Ilobasco and his dream was to see his son graduate with a degree in languages from the Technological University, where Juan Francisco has been studying for over three years.
As members of Radio Victoria our hearts go out to Juan Francisco´s family and to the Cabañas Environmental Committee for the Defense of Water and Natural Resources who once again are suffering a needless tragedy.