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Salvadoran Youth Assassinated in Suchitoto, El Salvador
Hector Antonio Ventura, one of the 14 people originally captured during an anti-water privatization protest in the town of Suchitoto last year, was assassinated on May 3 in his home. The assailants apparently stabbed him to death, while another man was attacked but survived. Organizations such as the legal group FESPAD have called for a full investigation into the death of the 19-year old Ventura, while already expressing concern that Salvadoran authorities would not sufficiently address the likely political motivation for the murder.
Ventura was among 13 people charged under the controversial “Special Law Against Acts of Terrorism”, which was passed by the right-wing bloc in the Legislative Assembly in 2006. In February all charges against the activists were dropped, but the case demonstrated internationally the repressive nature of the current right-wing ARENA government. Meanwhile, other possible political murders – such as the slaying of FMLN mayor Wilber Funes in January – have yet to be resolved, raising the specter of increased political violence during the lead up to the 2009 Salvadoran elections.
According to a 1994 report by the Joint Group for the Investigation of Illegally Armed Groups with Political Motivations in El Salvador, a Peace Accords initiative in response to the reappearance of armed groups after 1992, there are three key elements that qualify a political murder. These elements are that the victim is seen as a member of the political opposition, that the murder is planned with the goal of killing the specific victim, and that the assailants are granted impunity by the State. Because Ventura was a recently freed political prisoner and because the attack was not a random incident but demonstrated prior planning, the murder suggests political motives.
Ventura was killed days after having agreed to speak at the Day Against Impunity, an event planned to take place this coming July 2nd in Suchitoto, on the anniversary of last years capture of the Suchitoto 14 by police.
Yesterday in a press conference, Salvadoran legal and community organizations demanded that the Attorney General and National Civilian Police begin an extensive investigation of the case, one that investigates not only the assailants but also the intellectual authors of the assassination. They also request that the Ombudsperson for Human Rights act to protect the lives of the witnesses and verify that the case is investigated thoroughly.
Ventura´s murder is one of a number of assassinations of political opposition leaders and activists in El Salvador in the last few years, and one in a recent series of murders of young people in historically government opposition communities in the Suchitoto area during the last two weeks.
Lorena Araujo Martinez, president of CRIPDES said yesterday: ¨These atrocious crimes demonstrate why we must demand a complete investigation of this and the other murders with possible political motivations. We ask the national and international community, as they have stood with the Suchitoto 14 throughout the last 10 months, to keep working in solidarity to achieve justice for the victims of these crimes.¨