On March 15, 2010, Oscar Menjivar, the gang member who last August was accused of shooting Francisco Ramiro, an anti-mining activist, was released after six months of detention, free of all charges, for lack of evidence even though he was recognized by his victim. Unfortunately, Francisco Ramiro, who had recognized his attacker, was not able to present his testimony because he was assassinated on December 20, 2009. Interestingly, this man, Menjivar, who has little financial resources, benefited from the legal counsel of three high-profile lawyers.
This development supports the recommendation of an independent, international fact-finding delegation led by Voices on the Border. The group recommended that an independent investigation be conducted by internationally recognized human rights organizations and forensic experts with the oversight of the Ombudsman for Human Rights: “A broad consensus of Salvadorans does not trust government authorities to conduct a thorough investigation, believing their economic ties to Pacific Rim and the mining industry creates a conflict of interest.” In addition, the group found that no effective investigation has been conducted to identify the intellectual authors of the acts of violence perpetrated.
Police protection is felt to be inadequate as demonstrated by the recent assassinations that occurred in the presence of police escort. Furthermore, the bodyguards provided often treat those they are supposed to protect as suspects. Since the murder of Dora Recinos on December 26, 2009, there has been no further deaths. While threats have become more sporadic, the climate of fear remains. Pacific Rim Company keeps denying any role in the violence that has occurred. They are still suing the Salvadoran government for 100 million dollars in lost profit under the CAFTA agreement. This points to the need to support a grassroots movement calling to repeal CAFTA regulations that prioritize foreign investor rights over government interest in preventing environmental degradation and jeopardizing public safety.