On July 1st, the tortured body of Marcelo Rivera, an organizer against mining in Cabañas, El Salvador, was found. He had been missing for two weeks. Now, three young radio news reporters from the local community radio station are receiving death threats for their coverage of the case.
Below is an account in English by Wendy Wallas of Radio Victoria. Attached are two pieces of information in Spanish, which explain that Radio Victoria and its sponsor NGO ADES have reported the situation to the Human Rights Ombudsman of El Salvador, who has called on the police to investigate the case and provide enhanced protection.
Hi Everyone, i am short on time but want to inform you all that we are having some serious problems in Radio Victoria. We have 3 young community correspondents that have received threats, even death threats, and we have had to pull them out of Cabanas and bring them into the capital.
This comes on the heels of the disappearance and later confirmed death of our friend and activist Marcelo Rivera, who lived in the town of San Isidro, Cabanas, which is between Ilobasco and Sensuntepeque. Marcelo was a community artist, a long time anti-goldmine activist, head of the local casa de cultura, active member of the FMLN and member of his hometown association that connected Salvadorans living in the USA with supporting projects in San Isidro. He took a protagonist role in stopping municipal elections last january due to massive fraud in his town.
Marcelo disappeared and his body appeared 2 weeks later in the bottom of a well. He had been brutally tortured. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqeIyti0nRM&hl=en&fs=1&]
Now our community correspondents are getting messages that what happened to Marcelo could happen to them. One of them is also from San Isidro, another is from a nearby town and the other is from a rural community.
Obviously we are upset and worried and we are taking precautions. I am working with a group from the States right now but am in touch with the young folks a few times a day.
i just want you all to know and be ready if we need you to call or write letters or whatever. I will try to keep you posted. The young folks are pretty calm right now and in a very safe place, they are so young and such good reporters and i kind of feel like they are my babies!!! Hold them in your hearts and i will be in touch again soon.
"Elvis" the Radio Victoria sound mixer.
Young producers of Radio Victoria
And this in from Barry Gilbert: Coincidentally, my cousin was in El Salvador, working with Marcelo on behalf of an NGO when he disappeared. She was strongly urged to leave the country when her other Salvadoran counterparts started receiving death threats. Thankfully, she's safe at home in NYC and is working with a coalition of NGO's to bring attention to this situation and to try to raise money to get some of Marcelo's friends out of the country. I also just found out that a local Catholic priest has also recently started receiving death threats.
There is a lot of evidence that this is all related to their work trying to bring attention to recent negotiations between the government of El Salvador and a large Canadian mining company that wants to exploit the country's gold, which would likely result in massive contamination of the country's water supplies. Sound familiar?