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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09SANSALVADOR712 2009-07-30 15:05:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy San Salvador
Cable title:  

COMMUNITY ACTIVIST MURDERED: POLITICS OR RANDOM

Tags:   PGOV PHUM KJUS ES 
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VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSN #0712/01 2111505
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301505Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1445
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					  UNCLAS SAN SALVADOR 000712 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KJUS ES
SUBJECT: COMMUNITY ACTIVIST MURDERED: POLITICS OR RANDOM
CRIME?



1. Summary: Community activist Gustavo Marcelo Rivera Moreno
disappeared on June 18; police discovered his body in a well
June 30. The initial police investigation has led to the
arrest of seven purported gang members. The police have made
public statements that Rivera was likely murdered as a result
of an argument that arose while the group was drinking in an
abandoned building. Family, friends, and various civil
society groups have denounced the investigation claiming that
the body showed signs of torture and that Rivera was killed
as a result of his political activities. The Embassy has
reached out to the Attorney General,s Office, the National
Civilian Police, and the Ombudsman for Human Rights to urge
the GOES to conduct a full investigation and to bring the
perpetrators to justice. Journalists reporting on the Rivera
murder have alleged receiving death threats relating to the
case. End Summary.



--------------------------


WHAT WE KNOW


--------------------------





2. Gustavo Marcelo Rivera Moreno was the director of Casa de
Cultura, a cultural center located in San Isidro, and was a
member of the Friends of San Isidro Association, an
anti-mining organization affiliated with the National Working
Group Against Mining in El Salvador. Rivera actively
campaigned against the Pacific Rim Mining Company claiming
that it would damage El Salvador's watershed.



3. Rivera was also an FMLN activist who served as an FMLN
representative during the January 18 election and publicly
denounced San Isidro mayor Ignacio Bautista for allegedly
busing in Honduran citizens and paying them to vote in the
legislative and municipal elections January 18. As a result
of numerous allegations of election irregularities in San
Isidro, the January 18 voting was shut down and rescheduled
for a week later; Bautista still won the mayoral race.



4. Rivera was last seen on the afternoon of June 18 in
Ilobasco and his family and friends began searching for him
early June 20. A visiting delegation from the SHARE
Foundation discussed Rivera's disappearance with Charge on
June 23. A body was recovered from a well June 30; on July 8
DNA analysis confirmed the body was Rivera's.



5. The National Civilian Police (PNC) arrested six
individuals - Wilber Antonio Baires Amaya, Delfino Gerberth
Lara Arteaga, Jose Darwin Herrera Ayala (a minor), Edin
Eliseo Herrera Valladares, Jose Manuel Lara Nunez, and Santos
Vladimir Aviles - in connection with the case on July 7; a
fifth suspect, Jose Luis Herrera, was charged while in jail
for an unrelated crime. According to media reports, the
police believe that Rivera was drinking with the five
suspects, all alleged gang members, in an abandoned house the
evening of June 18. According to the PNC's theory, in the
early morning hours of June 19, a dispute turned violent and
Rivera was killed.



--------------------------


THE FAMILY


--------------------------





6. Family members of Rivera believe that his murder was
politically motivated, and filed a report with the Ombudsman
for Human Rights on June 21 alleging that the PNC and Office
of the Attorney General (AG) were not properly investigating
Rivera's disappearance. The family claims that Rivera
received numerous threats after the January election and that
someone tried to run him over with a car.



7. After the corpse was discovered, Rivera's brother told
the media that the body showed signs of torture and that
Rivera had been kept alive and tortured for nine days before
he was killed. (Note: His interpretation of events, like that
of the PNC, is loosely based on the medical examiner's
report, but is not supported by it. End note.)



--------------------------


POSSIBLE THREATS AGAINST THE MEDIA


--------------------------





8. On July 27, media reported that three reporters from the
Radio Victoria radio station in Cabanas had received death
threats by phone for their coverage of the Rivera murder.
Ombudsman for Human Rights Oscar Luna is investigating the
threats and has called for police protection of the reporters.



--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





9. Charge and Embassy staff have urged the GOES to conduct a

thorough investigation; the PNC Chief and Attorney General
have promised to do just that, and take the case wherever the
evidence leads. We do not rule out a political motive, but
would find it hard to believe that there was a national-level
conspiracy to eliminate Rivera because of his opposition to
mining. President Saca decided to deny permission to Pacific
Rim for mining in San Isidro before the end of his term.
Saca did not want to incur the wrath of the Church, which is
strongly anti-mining. The FMLN is anti-mining. When you
consider that the acting Attorney General was appointed by
Saca, and the current PNC Chief by the FMLN; the idea that
they would be colluding in a cover-up is similarly hard to
believe. Our next step will be to have Embassy law
enforcement review the evidence with their GOES counterparts.
BLAU