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Date: Mon, 21 Sep 98 12:32:20 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Weekly Americas News Update #451, 9/20/98
Article: 43650
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.21708.19980922121552@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** reg.nicaragua: 34.0 **/
** Topic: Weekly News Update #451, 9/20/98 **
** Written 9:50 PM Sep 20, 1998 by wnu in cdp:reg.nicaragua **

Indigenous Leaders Arrested in El Salvador

Weekly News Update on the Americas,
Issue #451, 20 September 1998

On Sept. 16, agents of El Salvador's National Civilian Police (PNC) arrested Adrian Esquino Lisco, chief and spiritual leader of the Salvadoran National Indigenous Association (ANIS), and Elba Perez, an ANIS director. Perez and Esquino are being held in custody in Santa Ana, Sonsonate department. Another ANIS director, Fermin Guardado, has also been ordered arrested. The government has accused Esquino of illegally appropriating the offices of ANIS. The government claims ownership of the offices, although there is a deed proving that ANIS owns the offices.

The arrest orders were issued by Interior Minister Mario Acosta Oertel and Attorney General Manuel Cordoba, following several years of harassment and the eviction of the ANIS-run cooperatives at San Ramon and Las Hojas in Sonsonate department. The threats and harassment against ANIS are believed to be related to the group's ongoing campaigns around issues of land ownership and demanding government compensation for the survivors of a 1983 massacre at Las Hojas. On Feb. 22, 1983, 16 members of the Las Hojas cooperative were arrested, bound and summarily executed by members of the Salvadoran army's Jaguar Battalion, according to an April 1993 report by the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Truth in El Salvador. No one has been brought to justice for the killings, nor was any compensation paid to the relatives of the victims, as recommended by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in a decision issued on Sept. 24, 1992.

Amnesty International (AI) considers that the lives of Esquino and Perez are in danger. ANIS leaders and members have received death threats in the past. There is an additional health concern for Esquino, who has diabetes. Messages protesting the arrests and demanding an end to harassment of ANIS members can be sent to President Armando Calderon Sol (fax +503-281-0018, email <presidente@casapres.gob.sv>), with copies to ANIS (tel/fax +503- 451-0742) and/or ANIS-USA c/o Gabriela Tayac, Piscataway Indian Nation, 301-495-2633. [AI Urgent Action 9/18/98 (UA 249/98); Action alerts posted 9/18/98 by South and Meso American Indian Rights Center (SAIIC)]