Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Thirteen people arrested last Monday, July 2, during a protest in Suchitoto, El Salvador, including CRIPDES leaders and community members, were charged with “Aggravated Damages, Acts of Terrorism and Injuring a Police Officer.” They were to be tried under the new Anti-Terrorism Law. Not anymore, we hope.

Those arrested were members of community groups and NGOs who protested against government plans to privatise water distribution. Around 100 peasants who were due to participate in a social forum blocked off several of Suchitoto’s streets in a show of protest prior to a visit to the town by President Saca. Initially peaceful, the demonstration turned violent and around 25 people were injured when the police intervened.

Saca was planning to announce his new "decentralization" plan in Suchitoto but the protests, led by the water workers union SETA, CRIPDES, and a number of other groups, prevented him from arriving.

According to CISPES, The police attacked the protesters around the police station, on the roads, and even chased people into rural communities. Police pulled four movement leaders out of a vehicle kilometers away from the protest and arrested them. They attacked other protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas. In total the police arrested 14 people; another 25 people were injured with rubber bullets, 18 suffered serious effects of tear gas, 2 were hospitalized, and an undetermined number were beaten by police officers.

Everything seemed to indicate that these arrests were strategically planned by the government to discourage social protest and take apart the Salvadoran social movement.

The Salvadoran social movement has increased its opposition to water privatization, bringing together many groups organizing at the national level to raise awareness about the effects of water privatization, while countering Saca’s plan to privatize both water and health care with concrete alternatives.

The following is from Prensa Latina. The article might as well be about the United States.

Salvadoran Activists not Terrorists

San Salvador, Jul 10 (Prensa Latina) The new Human Rights Prosecutor in El Salvador, Humberto Luna, stated he did not agree with the application of the law against acts of terrorism on 14 detained activists in Suchitoto.

The Salvadoran ombudsman said Monday night such a decision seriously harms public rights such as freedom of speech and the right to association.

He added that these are accepted by the Salvadoran Constitution and that the authorities of the country must guarantee them to all Salvadoran citizens.

These people were captured on Monday, July 2, during a demonstration against privatizing drinking water services in the town of Suchitoto, north of this capital.

The protest was violently repressed with rubber bullets and pepper gas by police officers, said reports Monday.

Fourteen people were arrested and processed under the so-called Law against Terrorism, approved by rightwing parties headed by government Nationalist Republican Alliance last year.

Luna considered the regulations in this legislation excessive.

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