Ramiro Rivera Gómez, vice-president of the Environmental Committee of Cabañas (CAC) and a local leader in the community struggle against the gold mining projects proposed by Pacific Rim, was assassinated on Dec. 20 in the Trinidad neighborhood of Ilobasco, in El Salvador’s Cabañas department.
Upside Down World reports that Rivera was killed by hitmen carrying M-16 rifles. Ramiro’s 13-year old daughter who was with him was also injured but is reportedly in stable condition. On Aug. 7 of this year, Rivera was shot 8 times, but survived the attack. Oscar Menjívar, previously implicated in physical attacks on anti-mining activists, was arrested and charged with Ramiro’s attempted murder. Community members report that Menjívar had previously worked for Pacific Rim; the company denies that he has ever been an employee.
Since his recovery, 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 Dec. 20, 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 Cabañas, there have been continued attacks, death threats and attempted kidnappings of community members and activists who have opposed the proposed El Dorado mine. The Ministry of Environment denied mining exploitation permits to Vancouver-based Pacific Rim, which subsequently announced a $77 million dollar lawsuit against the Salvadoran government under CAFTA. Despite the overtly political overtones of this wave of violence, local police authorities and the former Prosecutor General’s office have classified these cases as common crimes. (CISPES, Dec. 21)