El Salvador: Tribunal Convicts Marcelo Rivera's Killers

"We welcome justice!"

by the Communications Team of the National Roundtable Against Metal Mining

On September 22, 2010, the Specialized Sentencing Court "B" convicted the material assassins of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera Moreno, after concluding a two-day public hearing. After hearing some twenty testimonies and declarations from an accomplice under plea bargain, whose statements were corroborated by official evidence, the tribunal sentenced the perpetrators to 40 years in prison.

Environmentalist, cultural promotor and political leader, Gustavo Marcelo was disappeared, tortured and assassinated in June of 2009. He was recognized for his opposition to the mining projects of Canadian company Pacific Rim and for his criticisms of the administration of José Ignacio Bautista, mayor of San Isidro.

This act of justice is the result of the struggle by the family and friends of Rivera Moreno, the organized communities of Cabañas, the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining and the important members of the international community who have demanded justice against those responsible for crimes against environmentalists in Cabañas.

The process was difficult, since from the beginning Attorney General and the police investigators neglected to investigate those who planned the murder, instead defining the case as a result of common crime and only capturing the gang members that acted as hired assassins. Then, the preliminary hearing was suspended three times; but in the end the process concluded with sentencing the material assassins.

For the community organizations of Cabañas and the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining, this decision by the Specialized Sentencing Court "B" is not the end, but rather the beginning of the struggle for justice against the intellectual and material authors of all the crimes against those opposed to mining activities.

Today, the demand to investigate the persons responsible for orchestrating this crime and the others who physically perpetrated the forced disappearance, torture and assassination of Gustavo Marcelo intensifies. Thus, the communities of Cabañas and the Roundtable call for an investigation into the origin of the threats, persecutions and attempted assassinations that environmentalists have suffered for their opposition to mining and criticism of the mayor of San Isidro.

Similarly, the demand to identify and try the intellectual and material authors of the assassination of Ramiro Rivera and Dora Sorto, the threats against the journalists at Radio Victoria, the attempt against the life of the priest Luis Quintanilla and the harassment against Francisco Pineda, Neftalí Ruiz and other members of the community-led resistance against Pacific Rim intensifies.

The communities of Cabañas and the Roundtable demand an investigation into, among other things, the origin of the large sums of money used to pay the hit men that riddled the bodies of Ramiro and Dora with bullets, in the midst of the conflict provoked by Pacific Rim's presence.

In the absence of such investigations into the cases of threats against journalists at Radio Victoria, the attempted murder of Father Quintanilla and the other crimes against environmental defenders, the Roundtable may sue the Office of the Attorney General and the Police for not complying with resolutions of the Human Rights Ombudsman and failing to fulfill their constitutional duty to prosecute crime.

For now, the sentencing of the material assassins of Rivera Moreno is a sign that justice is possible. Therefore, we welcome justice!