El Salvador: Two leftists killed before high stakes vote

January 17, 2009

The below article is an abridged update released by the Committees in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) on January 12. The full article can be found at http://www.cispes.org.

A father and son, both activists of the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), were shot and killed in their home on January 9 in the small town of Las Minitas.

Twenty-three-year-old Maximino Rodrguez and 63 year-old Delfo de Jesus Rodriguez — an ex-FMLN combatant during the armed struggle — were attacked by armed men in a style of assassination, in which the masked men arrived in a vehicle and unloaded their weapons indiscriminately, that recalled the death squad killings of the 1980s.

The FMLN denounced the assassinations as part of an escalation of political violence and called on the government to
carry out a full investigation.

The National Civilian Police and the attorney general have implied the killings were carried out by gang members, an assertion that friends and FMLN leaders see as ridiculous.

At least two suspects have been detained by the police, but no charges have yet been filed.

The FMLN declared that continued impunity for the perpetrators of such political violence is a severe setback for the 1992 peace accords.

The Salvadoran municipal and legislative elections will take place on January 18 and tensions have been high for months.

One highly contentious race is for mayor of San Salvador, in which FMLN candidate and current mayor Violeta Menjivar, has a 14 point lead over Norman Quijano, the candidate for the right-wing, governing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party.

This race has already seen several incidences of electoral violence. In November, ARENA campaign workers attacked and injured a group of FMLN members campaigning door-to-door. Quijano's campaigners also attacked vendors and shoppers at the Montserrat Market who refused their campaign flyers.

In response to the attacks, Quijano infamously stated that his
campaigners are usually armed and should be "considered dangerous".

In an attempt to continue instilling fear during the electoral period, the security ministry announced on December 15 that supposed armed groups are undergoing military training in the
Salvadoran countryside, an announcement disseminated by the media.

The key piece of evidence for the existence of such groups is a photograph of community members re-enacting a military formation with plastic prop guns taken during a social-cultural public event in El Paisnal — an event to commemorates the civil-war death of Comandante Dimas Rodriguez.

The presence of FMLN members was used to denounced supposed FMLN involvement with armed groups.

As a result, Salvadoran military troops were deployed to the region.

Regional organisations denounced this move and mobilised against the presence of soldiers in their communities. According to community representative Jose Antonio Rivera, the presence of soldiers is a blatant violation of the guidelines in the peace accords that ended the civil war in 1992.

The FMLN denounced the accusations against it as a "terror campaign" and a last ditch effort to defame their party whose presidential candidate, Mauricio Funes, has a 16 point lead over the ARENA candidate Rodrigo Avila, according to the most recent polls.

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