Recent events involving the murder of four Salvadorans in Guatemala have dominated the blogosphere in El Salvador. On February 19, three members of the Central American parliament (PARLACEN) from El Salvador's ruling ARENA party were found murdered in Guatemala along with their driver. The group had been traveling to a working group meeting of PARLACEN. The bodies were found in a rural area outside of Guatemala City, in the burned out shell of the vehicle in which they had been driving. Among the dead was Eduardo D'Aubuisson, son of the founder of ARENA.
Initially the reaction in the Salvadoran blogosphere was to call for restraint[ES], avoiding a rush to judgment, and calling for an in depth investigation[ES]. Jjmar wrote that no one should seek to take advantage of the murders[ES] for political gain, whether to further the political polarization in El Salvador or to gain a benefit in the 2009 election campaign.
Fears of a political motive were largely eliminated when four Guatemalan police officers were arrested for the murders three days later. The arrested police officers included the head of the organized crime unit within the Guatemalan national police. Yet there was to be another twist. On February 25th, the four Guatemalan police officers were executed in their cells in a high security Guatemalan prison. Most reports indicated that gunmen “stormed” the prison, passing through eight locked(?) doors to get to the suspects and kill them. The executions coincided with a riot within the prison, and the some Guatemalan authorities are still suggesting that the suspects were killed by rioting gang members. The discussion in the blogosphere now turned to organized crime and narco-trafficking and its hold in Central America.
Ixquic* wrote a post[ES] looking at the impotence of the Salvadoran and Guatemala states. Each has emerged from bloody years of civl war during the 1990s. In each country, the arrangements following the civil war created new civilian police forces, yet each had elements left over from earlier years contaminated with the bad habits of those times. Each country had a history of armed paramilitary groups, death squads and guerrillas, whose members had to find something to do. The post-war years saw a dramatic growth of organized crime in the countries which now controls trafficking in drugs, trafficking in persons, and kidnappings. In both countries, organized crime operates with near impunity against the impotence of the two governments.
The murders brought Soy Salvadoreño out of retirement[ES] on his blog. He had been watching the Academy Awards where the Best Picture award went to the The Departed, a movie about organized crime. In Spanish-speaking countries, however, the film is titled “Los Infiltrados.” or “The Infiltrated.” The parallels of organized crime infiltrating its way into the police struck him. As he learned about the execution of the suspects within the locked doors of a high security Guatemalan prison, Soy Salvadoreño wondered if truth was stranger than fiction.
The impunity with which organized crime was acting led Soy Salvadoreño to bemoan:
48 horas fueron suficientes para que la mafia (¿guatemalteca-salvadoreña?) planeara y ejecutara a los arrestados con la ayuda de los “infiltrados” de la policía y autoridades de Guatemala y de El Salvador …. No hay quien nos ayude, no hay quien nos proteja. No hay justicia. Vivimos en la selva
The question in El Salvador is what are the links in El Salvador to these murders. The Hunnapuh blog is running a poll[ES] asking its readers whether drug traffickers have infiltrated public officials in El Salvador and whether any particular party is more likely to be connected to drug-trafficking. Hunnapuh also made sure to remind his readers[ES] that, although US president George Bush had offered condolences for the “three gentlemen who were murdered,” referring to the ARENA politicians, there were in fact four Salvadorans murdered that night. The driver of the car, Gerardo Ramirez, was also murdered, and he had been often overlooked in the press coverage of the murders.
The events of the past two weeks have also put a strain on relations between Guatemala and El Salvador. Patrick Hall at the Guatemala Solidarity Network points out “Guatemala-El Salvador relations haven't been this frosty for a long while.” Government officials in El Salvador have been intimating that high government officials in Guatemala have connections to the crime. Meanwhile Hall also notes that journalists covering the case have been receiving death threats.