Anti-Mining Activist Ramiro Rivera Assassinated in Cabanas

Date of publication: 
21 December 2009

Ramiro Rivera Gomez, vice-president of CAC (Comite Ambiental de Cabanas/ the Environmental Committee of Cabanas) and a local leader in the community struggle against the environmentally-destructive gold mining projects proposed by Pacific Rim, was assassinated on Sunday, December 20, 2009 in the Trinidad neighborhood of Ilobasco, in the department of Cabanas where he lived.

Hector Berrios reports that Ramiro Rivera was killed by hitmen carrying M-16 rifles. Ramiro’s thirteen-year old daughter who was with him on Sunday afternoon was also injured but is reportedly in stable condition.

On August 7 of this year, Ramiro Rivera was shot 8 times, but survived the vicious attack. Oscar Menjivar, previously implicated in physical attacks on anti-mining activists, was arrested and charged with Ramiro’s attempted murder. Community members report that Menjivar had previously worked for Canadian mining company Pacific Rim; Pacific Rim denies that he has ever been an employee.

Since his recovery, Mr. Rivera had been under the protection of two police officers from the Witnesses and Victims Protection Unit of the National Civilian Police. On the afternoon of December 20th, they were apparently unable to protect him.

Since June of 2009, when anti-mining and FMLN activist Marcelo Rivera (no relation to Ramiro) was found tortured and killed in Cabanas, there have been continued attacks, death threats and attempted kidnappings of community members and activists who have vehemently opposed the proposed El Dorado gold mine. The Ministry of Environment denied mining exploitation permits to Pacific Rim, a Vancouver-based mining company, which subsequently announced a $77 million dollar lawsuit against the Salvadoran government under CAFTA, the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (watch the Real News video here).

Despite the overtly political overtones of this wave of violence, local police authorities and the former Attorney General’s office have classified these cases as common crimes. Salvadorans are fearful and outraged by the continued violence but also by the inability or unwillingness of the police and the office of the Attorney General to protect community activists like Ramiro Rivera and to halt the violence.

Join the international response to this repression of anti-mining organizers in Cabanas TODAY. Call on the Salvadoran authorities to carry out an exhaustive investigation of these crimes and their motives.