When I began writing this blog ten years ago, one of the first stories which I covered regularly was the November 2004 murder of Gilberto Soto. Soto was a Salvadoran born Teamster from New Jersey. While in El Salvador in 2004, he was gunned down outside his mother's home. The police called it a domestic dispute, arresting gang members allegedly hired by Soto's mother-in-law. She was ultimately exonerated. Others were sure that it was related to his union organizing efforts among truckers in El Salvador's ports. Other theories tied the killing to connections to drug-trafficking and a criminal cartel known as the Perrones.
Mauricio Funes ordered the Soto case be reopened in 2009, but there has been no sign of forward movement on the case in the years since then. This week the Teamsters issued a press release stating the union had sent a letter to El Salvador's Attorney General, inviting him to Washington to discuss the case:
[T]he International Brotherhood of Teamsters announced that General President James P. Hoffa sent a letter to El Salvador Attorney General Luis Antonio Martinez inviting him to the union's headquarters in Washington D.C., to discuss re-opening the investigation into the assassination of Teamster official Gilberto Soto.
Hoffa sent Martinez the correspondence after not receiving a response from him to a letter regarding the Soto murder he co-signed with 14 internationally-recognized human rights advocates nearly three months ago. The open letter was published in La Prensa Grafica on Nov. 5, 2014, the tenth anniversary of Soto's assassination.
In the new letter, Hoffa reiterates that the human rights advocates were requesting that the attorney general "…work cooperatively with the PDDH and independent human rights organizations to identify those who ordered these crimes and those who covered them up." His letter specifically refers to reports "…that the cover-up included the sexual torture of gang members, while in police custody, in order to extract false and misleading confessions" in the Soto case.Although the Teamsters and US Congressman James McGovern of Massachusetts are interested in seeing this case fully investigated and resolved, it's not clear to me that anyone in El Salvador has the same interests. I'm afraid "who killed Gilberto Soto?" and "where is Jimmy Hoffa buried?" will be unanswered questions for the Teamsters for many years to come.