The body of murdered fourth-year university student and active member of the environmental movement in the area of Ilobasco, Cabanas, Juan Francisco Duran Ayala, has finally been returned to his family in San Salvador. Juan is the fourth person active in the anti-mining movement in the department of Cabanas to be murdered in the past two years.
As part of his visit to El Salvador yesterday, the last stop on a Latin American excursion occurring despite events in Japan and Libya, Barack Obama visited the tomb of Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero, assassinated on March 24, 1980.
Women are playing a leading role in a powerful social movement addressing natural resource protection, adaptation to climate change, and corporate accountability in this coastal village in El Salvador. Cristina Reyes is currently in her second term as president of the local community council in Ciudad Romero, located in the department (province) of Usulután, on the Pacific Ocean.
Why do 700 Salvadorans leave their native country every day? This is the burning question behind documentary filmmaker Jamie Moffett’s latest project, Return to El Salvador. Narrated by Martin Sheen and endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the film provides a rare glimpse into how the lives of North Americans are directly tied to those of this tiny Central American nation. I recently interviewed Moffett about the film.
Monsignor Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, was assassinated while giving a mass on March 24th, 1980. Romero had become a recognized critic of violence and injustice, and was therefore perceived as a dangerous enemy by certain military and right wing civil groups. This March 24th, a mass honoring Monsignor Romero’s memory was held on the same altar where the latter one was gunned down exactly thirty years before.
Indigenous peoples in the western Salvadoran town of Izalco commemorated the 78th anniversary of the slaughter of 30 thousand indigenous people and peasants, killed during the popular uprisings. On January 22, 1932, more than three thousand farmers, indigenous and political leaders protested low wages, unfair distribution of land and hoarding of wealth in the hands of a few elite Salvadoran families.
Last week, family and friends of environmentalists killed in the town of San Isidro, Cabañas, gathered in solidarity with their fallen loved ones at a public ecumenical and artistic commemoration. Those gathered attributed the recent assassinations of three environmental activists to a generalized repression targeted at those opposed to the re-opening of the “El Dorado” gold mine by the Vancouver, BC-based Pacific Rim Mining Corporation. The company has denied any role in the murders. (Special feature: recent video of anti-mining activities below.)
Six days after heavily armed men took the life of a respected anti-mining activist in Cabañas, El Salvador, another prominent community leader has been assassinated. On December 26 at 3:30 pm Dora “Alicia” Sorto Rodriguez, 32, was killed as she returned from doing laundry at the river near her home in Cantón Trinidad, in the municipality of Sensuntepeque, Cabañas.”Alicia,” as she was known to friends, was eight months pregnant and carried her 2-year-old son in her arms as she was shot dead.