On Sunday, January 31st, a truck carrying FMLN activists was attacked by three individuals in San Salvador. The deadly attack left two activists dead and others injured. One of the attackers was also wounded in the incident.
The investigation into the incident leads the Salvadoran National Police “PNC” to identify and arrest the individuals involved. Yesterday, the Salvadoran prosecutor’s office charged three individuals with the murders. The suspects accused of homicide have ties to the Salvadoran health ministry.
Because the attack was made against FMLN activists and involved subjects that worked at the Health Ministry, 28 days away from an election, it became a political issue right from the start.
The FMLN immediately accused president Nayib Bukele of being responsible for the attack. Oscar Ortiz, FMLN’s president, said the following: “This is an act of terrorism and political violence, carried out by cowards and fanatics, who replicate the messages of hatred, confrontation, and manipulation promoted by the executive.”
On the other hand, president Bukele tweeted, suggesting the accusation was a desperate act by a losing political party. Bukele also said, “The Police PNCSV has also captured two FMLN militants suspected of firing at the PPI who is being operated on for gunshot wounds to the abdomen. All those responsible will pay for their actions, whoever they are.”
Raul Melara, Salvadoran general attorney, added more fuel to the political fire. Melara conducted a press conference where he gave details on the case and displayed a video showing the three suspects cutting off the FMLN truck and going after them. However, he neglected to play a second video where it shows individuals on the FMLN shooting, according to the national police.
After the press conference, Bukele questioned the motives for only playing one of the videos.
“The PNC delivered four videos to the FGR about the Sunday shooting. But today, the FGR only displays one of them. Coincidentally, it seems that the FMLN caravan was only a victim, hiding that they also shot and hit the body of the PPI.” Nayib Bukele.
Following the Tweet by Bukele, the Salvadoran National Police, PNC, released the other video not played at Melara’s press conference.
Raul Melara released a statement questioning the PNC’s motive for releasing the other video. “By wanting to distort the conclusions of the investigation, what the PNC does is further discrediting the work its investigators have done with prosecutors. I don’t understand who they defend? They do not have the slightest respect for the deceased, nor their families.” Raul Melara, attorney general.
The appointment of Melara to Attorney General has been put into question by President Bukele and other politicians. Melara was an active militant of ARENA, the right-wing political party opposing president Bukele.
One thing is for sure; this deadly attack became a political issue from the start. Some politicians are using and will continue to use this regretful incident as a tool to gain votes for the upcoming February 28th elections.