November 25, 2019 at 8:58 am PST | by Ernesto Valle
Anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in El Salvador on the rise
San Salvador, El Salvador (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Editor’s note: The Los Angeles Blade published a Spanish version of this story on Nov. 21.

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in El Salvador have increased over the last two months.

Unknown suspects in a vehicle on Oct. 27 stabbed Anahy Miranda Rivas, a 27-year-old transgender woman, with a knife on Los Héroes Boulevard in San Salvador and dragged her to death.

The body of Jade Camila Díaz, a trans community leader in Morazán department, was found floating in the Torola River on Nov. 9, three days after she was reported missing. The murder of Victoria, 44, who was brutally killed, was reported on Nov. 16. The body of Oscar Cañenguez was found the next day near San Vicente’s market.

The country’s LGBTQ organizations remain on alert and they have not stopped their constant social media condemnations of the rise in the number of these cases against the LGBTQ community.

“What is happening @FGR_SV @PresidenciaSV? We demand concrete actions! Enough LGBTI deaths!,” Erick Ivan Ortíz, an LGBTQ activist and a member of Colectivo Normal, in a tweet in which the offices of El Salvador’s Attorney General and president were tagged.

Culture Minister Seucy Callejas, whose ministry is charged with the inclusion of the LGBTQ community in government policies on Twitter said, “We condemn social violence, especially that which targets the most vulnerable communities.”

“We are working to uncover the causes of the recent homicides,” added Callejas in her statement that LGBTQ organizations and activists criticized

“The culture minister made a pronouncement by tweet and refers to LGBTI people as most vulnerable communities, noting her discomfort with us,” William Hernández, director of Asociación Entre Amigos, told the Los Angeles Blade.

A trans woman’s disappearance in Santa Ana became public after these crimes against the LGBTQ community took place. This case is the one to which the El Salvador’s attorney general referenced, clarifying a person had been detained for having committed a crime.

“The prosecutor gave more importance to the crime,” Hernández told the Blade. “It was as though they implied that they kill us because we are involved in illegal activities and not because of LGBTIphobia.”

Assemblyman Josué Godoy, a member of the Republican Nationalist Alliance (ARENA) party who represents Santa Ana department, on social media declared, “We have seen over these last few days a series of hate crimes against the LGBT community, primarily against trans women. We must act.” He urged the State to condemn these crimes and act with respect to them.

El Salvador’s human rights ombudsman, via a statement from Julio Guillermo Bendec, condemned anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and said through outrage and social pressure the State must act to curb violence and discrimination against this segment of the community. At the same time, he urged authorities to undertake actions necessary to prevent these events that continue to happen.

The U.N. in El Salvador, which also wanted to show its solidarity with the LGBTQ community, on Wednesday issued a statement via social media and a poster.

“The U.N. system in El Salvador makes a call to national authorities who are charged with investigating these crimes that they punish those responsible, consider transphobia as an aggravating factor, and take urgent measures to prevent more acts of violence based on prejudice and hate towards the LGBTI community,” said the U.N. in El Salvador.

President Nayib Bukele as of deadline had still not issued an official statement or comment on his social media pages about these crimes against the LGBTQ community. Some may see this silence as a setback to the work that organizations have been doing for many years.

“The quality of life conditions for the LGBTI community for which we have been working for many years are falling apart for many people,” Hernández told the Blade. “They possibly think we have not achieved much, but we must keep fighting as long as changes don’t come from the State.”

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele

Ernesto Valle is a journalist and activist in San Salvador, El Salvador, who covers LGBT issues.

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