|El Salvador: Ramiro Rivera Shot to Death in Cabañas|
|Written by Hector Berríos|
|Sunday, 20 December 2009 20:26|
[Note: UDW first reported on Ramiro Rivera in August, when he miraculously survived an attack where he was shot eight times in the legs and back. A Real News report released at the time aired footage of a Rivera interview. The attack occurred weeks after the assassination of Marcelo Rivera (no relation) in Cabañas, El Salvador and marked the beginning of an open season on activists opposed to mining in the area. Here we re-print the testimony of Hector Berríos of MUFRAS-32, an organization that has accompanied many of the anti-mining groups in their struggle for justice. A longer article on the assassination of R. Rivera and its significance in light of the ongoing struggle against Pacific Rim's mining efforts is forthcoming. --ed.]
December 20, 4:00pm - Hitmen gunned down and killed our compañero Ramiro Rivera Gomez, Vice president of the Comité Ambiental de Cabañas, [Cabañas Environmental Committee], in the Canton of Trinidad, city of Ilobasco, Cabañas. Rivera was a leader in the resistance against the Pacific Rim Mining Company.
He was active in raising consciousness about the company's actions, and was one of the first persons who suffered attacks by Pacific Rim employees. On August 7th, 2009 Rivera was victim of an assassination attempt in which he was shot in the back eight times. It was a miracle, thanks to G-d, that he survived. This latest event can be added to the assassination of Marcelo Rivera, ASIC member, the threats to our colleagues at Radio Victoria, the kidnapping and assassination attempt of Father Luis Alberto Quintanilla, threats made against the director of ADES as well as those against the fellow members of CACA and MUFRAS-32.
It is most striking that two security guards, members of the Witnesses and Victims Protection Unit of the National Civil Police, were accompanying compañero Ramiro Rivera Gomez, and were unable to do anything to evade the death of our colleague.
Furthermore, neither suffered injuries and the assassins injured a fourteen year-old girl that was with Ramiro Rivera. We must remember that earlier this year, on Thursday, June 18, at the "El Molino"cut-off, in the municipality of Ilobasco, Department of Cabañas, environmental activist Gustavo Marcelo Rivera Moreno, was seen for the last time. His lifeless body was rescued from a well on June 30th, with clear signs of torture.
The forced disappearance, followed by torture and assassination of Marcelo Rivera, as well as that of Ramiro Rivera Gomez, is part of an increase in violence in the municipalities in Cabañas, ranging from death threats and kidnapping attempts against the men and women that have organized to halt the Pacific Rim mining project.
The violence that has fallen upon the communities is worrisome, but equally worrisome and outrageous is the disfunctionality of the State institutions that are charged with directing and carrying out criminal investigations, of which we can affirm by the response of the Organized Crime Unit of the Attorney General and the Sub-director of the National Civil Police, Officer Mauricio Landaverde, who in our meeting with him told us that we should stop speaking out and that these were all just common crimes.
The gravest thing that this Officer on various occasions has expressed, including in the presence of the head of the Organized Crime Unit of the FGR, Rodolfo Delgado, in an irresponsible and rushed manner, and without any investigation, was when he stated "that the [Marcelo Rivera murder] was the result of common violence and that there is no indication of intellectual authorship". These statements have been made without following any other lines of investigation that would establish a true motive for the [Rivera's] assassination, while the community has turned over sufficient evidence that points to intellectual authorship.
It is essential that we raise our voices to denounce these violent acts against our compañeros who oppose the death project that Pacific Rim is directing. At the same time, we must join in solidarity with the accompaniment actions of the communities that are struggling against Pacific Rim's mining project, which is backed by various ARENA mayors across Cabañas, and who act with complete impunity as permitted by the authorities.
It is important to state that we have denounced to the PNC and the FGR the increasingly violent terror and harassment campaign that activists in Cabanas have suffered. So much so that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in a recent resolution called on the Salvadoran government to provide protection for the lives of the involved environmentalists. In the public event when the Chancellor's Office was notified of this, I had the chance to observe the unwillingness of the PNC and the Technical Unit, who justified their unwillingness to provide protection.
I want to add here that the FGR last week sent notification to the Radio Victoria reporters that the security measures implemented to protect them were being withdrawn. These journalists have also been subject to threats, just like Ramiro Rivera, who had received public death threats that were carried out. There is enormous indignation among the various grassroots organizations in Cabañas. The Pacific Rim Mining Company is currently suing the government of El Salvador for 100 million dollars and is initiating a terror campaign against those who oppose the mining project.[ed. Note: the correct amount is $77 million. However, a suit by the US-based mining corp Commerce Group against El Salvador is for $100 million.]
Will the assassinations of Ramiro Rivera Gomez and Marcelo Rivera Moreno go unpunished? Are we going to watch idly as they kill our compañeros and continue to get away with it? And when will the authorities of the "government of change" decide to take action to stop to these attacks?
Movimiento Unificado Francisco Sánchez-1932 MUFRAS-3
This testimony was translated and adapted from the Spanish original by Jason Wallach.