CISPES Declares its Solidarity with the Salvadoran Political Prisoners
We, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) publicly express our extreme concern regarding the detainment of the 13 political prisoners who were captured on July 2, 2007, in Suchitoto, and our solidarity with these prisoners and all of the compañeros and compañeras working for social justice in El Salvador. The political prisoners are community leaders and CRIPDES members, Marta Lorena Araujo Martinez, Manuel Antonio Rodriguez, Rosa Maria Centeno, Hector Ventura, Maria Aydee Chicas, Sandra Guatemala, Jose Ever Fuentes, Patricio Valladares, Clemente Guevara, Santos Noel Macia, Marta Yanira Mendez, Beatriz Eugenia Nuila and Vicente Vasquez.
We have learned that on July 2, 2007, 14 people peacefully protesting the privatization of water were brutally and unjustly captured by the Salvadoran National Civilian Police, and their riot-squad unit. We are distressed that the protesters' right to peaceful assembly and organization was so flagrantly denied, and that their demands were violently silenced. We are outraged that 13 prisoners are being "preventatively" imprisoned for a period of three months on charges of "terrorism." We support their rejection of the privatization of water in El Salvador, and especially their right to organize and express these beliefs. We are alarmed that President Saca is using a newly created, so-called "anti-terrorism" law to equate peaceful assembly and opposition to government policies with terrorism, and that dissenting voices in El Salvador are being subjectively silenced and imprisoned.
We are reminded of the events of May 12, 2007, when 25 persons were arrested in relation to their involvement in a protest against a law sponsored by the right-wing that effectively equates their defending their means of livelihood—the informal sale of goods—with terrorism. As four of those arrested are vendors affiliated with a national vendors' organization we see these arrests as being politically motivated. This alarming trend pursued by President Saca and his government is clearly continuing with the 13 political arrests in Suchitoto.
Regrettably, the U.S. government is supporting and aggressively encouraging the "anti-terrorism" and "anti-organized crime" laws, which effectively serve as government instruments of repression. As such, we are actively working within our own country to disseminate this information and expose the tyranny of President Saca and the Salvadoran government. We will also work with the Salvadoran population in the United States to oppose the injustice that has transpired in El Salvador. In collaboration with other organizations in the United States, we are currently educating members of our Congress about the state-sponsored repression of movement organizing in El Salvador, as evidenced by the Suchitoto arrests and the targeting of street vendors with terrorism charges on May 12, 2007. We plan to take our message to the Salvadoran consulates in the United States and to demand the release of all political prisoners in El Salvador, and an immediate dismissal of the terrorism and organized crime charges.
In the meantime, we are closely monitoring all details of the Suchitoto case and are calling for respect for the physical integrity of all political prisoners. We will continue organizing in solidarity with the political prisoners and the social movement in El Salvador until there is justice in this matter, and until the U.S. and Salvadoran governments realize they will not stop organized resistance with imprisonment and repression.
Free the political prisoners! Stop the repression!