On February 4, legislators and members of El Salvador’s left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party denounced the assassination of their fellow comrade and former councilman, José Nelson Berríos Méndez. They extended their condolences to Berríos’ family and demanded thorough investigation and justice for him. They also condemned the far-right president Nayib Bukele for promoting hatred and violence against their party.
A nombre del FMLN quiero condenar un nuevo un hecho de violencia contra uno de nuestros militantes, Nelson Berríos, exconcejal del municipio de Chirilagua, San Miguel 2009-2012.
Exigimos se investigue a profundidad y se castigue a los responsables con todo el peso de la ley. https://t.co/oUmv9Wew3a
— Oscar Ortiz (@oscarortizsv) February 3, 2021
45-year-old Berríos was murdered in his home in the Tierra Blanca locality in the Chirilagua municipality of the San Miguel department between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The National Civil Police (PNC) found his dead body on February 3 with multiple stab wounds. According to the neighbors, some unidentified men broke into his house and killed him. The motive for his murder is still unknown.
Berríos was former councilor of Chirilagua for the FMLN party from 2009 to 2012. He is the third member of the FMLN party who has been killed this week, during the time when all political parties are campaigning for the upcoming legislative and municipal elections scheduled for February 28.
Earlier, on January 31, two members of the FMLN party were killed and five others were injured in an armed attack against the FMLN election caravan in the capital San Salvador. On February 1, the police captured the three suspects who shot against the FMLN members. Along with them, two FMLN supporters, who allegedly fired back at the attackers, were also arrested.
On February 3, the Office of Attorney General charged the accused for “the crimes of aggravated and attempted homicide.” The same day, the two members of the FMLN were released due to “the lack of evidence” against them.
During a press conference on February 3, the head of the Attorney General’s Office, Raul Melara, showed some videos of Sunday’s violent incident captured by CCTV cameras. These videos contradicted the versions of President Bukele, who said that the FMLN had organized a self-attack, and that the FMLN members fired back at the attackers.
Melara acknowledged that “we are facing an incident motivated by hate and political intolerance.” Melara assured that violence will not be allowed or condoned, especially amid the election campaign ahead of the elections.
— Ángel Monge (@Angel_Monge1) February 4, 2021
All the three accused are associated with the health ministry. Roberto Carlos Coto de Paz is a security guard at the ministry, Héctor de Jesús Castaneda is a driver at the ministry and Diego Francisco Alvarado Peña is the personal bodyguard of health minister Francisco Alabí. The fact that the perpetrators are linked to the health ministry, has raised concerns at the national and international level. Various international social and political leaders and organizations have repudiated the attacks and have called for a thorough investigation.
The FMLN and its members have blamed President Bukele for hate speeches and have held him responsible for the crimes. The party members have also denounced Bukele’s manipulation of the police to falsify the investigation. Attorney General Melara reported that he has requested the FBI to collaborate in this investigation.
Los acusados ya tienen asignados defensores y es en los tribunales donde se presentan las pruebas de descargo que quieran, esta no es la función de la @PNCSV.
Por cierto, este video también se presentó y deja en evidencia que no hay disparos desde el camión. https://t.co/5F6ZFsQSUb
— Raúl Melara (@MelaraRaul) February 4, 2021