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What Salvadoran bloggers are saying — about murders in Guatemala

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

48 hours were sufficient for the mafia (Guatemalan? Salvadoran?) to plan and execute those arrested with the help of “Los Infiltrados” within the police and authorities of Guatemala and El Salvador….There is no one who helps us; there is no one who protects us. There is no justice. We live in the jungle.

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.

2 comments

  • […] The last questions are the most difficult, and important.  Ixquic at Xibalba has what looks like a very interesting post on this subject: “Estado Impotente”, the impotence of the state.  Unfortunately, I don’t know Spanish.  According to Global Voices Online, the post discusses the contamination of new civilian forces with old paramilitary and death squad habits, and the resulting corruption and growth in organized crime, following civil war in both El Salvador and Guatemala.  Global Voices also quotes (and translates) Soy Salvadoreño on the lack of security: There is no one who helps us; there is no one who protects us. There is no justice. We live in the jungle. […]

  • Danny Gray

    What happens in our Central American countries should come as no surprise to anyone, especially those of us who live there. I agree with Soy Salvadoreno; Central America is a jungle. It is a place where you develop a survival instinct, where you dread what the day will bring,where we do the death tour for our friends and relatives when they arrive in El Salvador for vacation: “This is where the Americans died…Here is where Romero was killed…” etc. etc. We are constantly surrounded by death.
    You take the bus, hide your valuables,and pray you won’t get stabbed. You walk through your neighborhood and wonder if you’ll be asked to pay “tribute” by the local chapter of the MS. In Guatemala there was a particular neighborhood where the MS would actually knock on your door and give you 2 choices, leave so they could move in and enjoy all you had worked hard for or die.
    I am constantly awestruck at those who still question corruption in our governments and law enforcement when Salvadoran officials such as the Human Rights Ombudswoman defends her “babies” (MS members) and constantly stands in the way of law enforcement. El Salvador has had to watch in horror while 2 police officers were stabbed over 100 times by gang members during a federal prison riot while Carillo ordered the lives of gang members be protected.
    We expect there to be no corruption in law enforcement when the governments recruit police officers for $200 a month, while reserving the better oportunities for the nephew, son, godson of some government official, then wonder why drugs are smuggled and heads turn the other way for $100, and wonder why police officers are not willing to risk their lives in the line of duty.
    How can there not be violence in our countries when political parties such as the FMLN teach their members to riot, destroy public and private property, and actually hurt those they claim to represent? The constant strikes at Social Security clinics affect the elderly who have no other access to health care and the poor who work all day at the factories. They have absolutely no affect on the rich and government officials. They are able to pay for private health care, they go home and forget about the poor folks who have to wait for chemotherapy, for their meds. Their protests destroy schools and the national university, the only place some of us can afford to send our children.
    Of course they are are still indulging in the tactics of death squad and paramilitary groups! It is a booming business and one many people are getting into! You can pay your local junkie,gangbanger, or law enforcement to rid you of a “nuisance” for $50.
    Theft is not investigated unless in happens in the rich neighborhoods and of course the perpetrators are hauled off and never heard from again.
    My main concern is always the children, the youth. They are a generation growing up in a violence not associated with political differences. They are a generation surrounded by those who’s only way to live IS violence.

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