International Community Calls for Fair and Impartial Ruling in Marcelo Rivera Murder Case - Organizations in U.S. and Canada continue to worry about impunity in environmentalist's murder

SalvaideCommittee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities

PRESS RELEASE - For Immediate Release

(San Salvador, El Salvador) With the first hearing in the case of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera scheduled for Friday, April 30th, organizations in the United States and Canada continue being concerned about the murder case of the environmentalist in Cabañas.

According to Alexis Stoumbelis, Executive Director of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), "For decades in El Salvador justice has been a privilege of the powerful. It's time to change this way of acting and truly show the will to end impunity in this case and all the cases of violence against members of the social movement."

Since Rivera's kidnapping on June 18th, 2009, the case has received international attention and has generated concerns about the security and human rights of communities affected by mining. On July 24th, 2009, one hundred and eight international organizations sent a letter to the Interim Attorney General, Astor Escalante Saravia, asking for a thorough, effective, and impartial investigation to find the intellectual and material authors of the crime, in order to prevent other similar tragedies. In January of this year, after the murder of three other environmentalists in Cabañas, one hundred and forty organizations once again demanded justice in the cases of violence against leaders in Cabañas, including the Rivera case.

According to Laura Haylock, Director of the Canadian organization Salvaide, "Mining activity and the presence of transnational mining companies tends to create social conflict and violence. Activists in Mexico and Guatemala have lived through experiences of violence and murders very similar to those in Cabañas."

Rivera was a recognized leader in the struggle against mining in El Salvador and also played a protagonistic role in denouncing fraud that lead to the suspension of elections in the municipality of San Isidro in January of 2009. He was a member of the National Roundtable against Mineral Mining, which has played an important part in the struggle against mineral exploitation in El Salvador and against the case of the mining company Pacific Rim, who is suing the government of El Salvador for $100 million.

According to Emily Carpenter, Director of the National Network of U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities, "Leaving the murder of Marcelo Rivera in impunity would create a climate of terror, uncertainty and danger for the rest of the leaders and social activists, counteracting the advances achieved during the process of democratization in the country. That is why we are calling on the Supreme Court to guarantee a fair and impartial process in the preliminary hearings this Friday."


Contact: Alexis Stoumbelis, Executive Director of CISPES (202) 521-2510