The Catholic Church in El Salvador is demanding tighter security measures after one of its priests was killed by gang members on Thursday.
Walter Osmir Vazquez was driving to Lolotique, a city 130 kilometers east of San Salvador, to participate in the Holy Thursday celebrations when he was shot dead by alleged gang members.
“This criminal violence environment must be fought back and overcome by the best national effort,” said the San Salvador Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar during Sunday's mass.
“The violence situation is serious. We're moved not only by the death of our brother priest but by those of all Salvadoreans killed. There's no rule of law,” said Escobar in a press conference after the mass, adding that violence “is an issue that concerns us all.”
The Archbishop said that Salvadoran Vice President Oscar Ortiz called him to offer his condolences, and that he, in turn, demanded him to “not let go the murder unpunished.”
The Police authorities and the prosecutor's office ordered the deployment of special research teams to investigate the murder and find the responsible people, but there's still no lead on who committed the crime.
Escobar said the “wouldn't dare” to blame to murder on anybody yet, since investigations are just beginning.
Media speculations point at several gangs in El Salvador as probably responsible for the murder, such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and the Barrio 18 gangs, which alongside other smaller ones, violently operate in the territory.
El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in the world, with murder rates of 103, 81.7 and 60 for every 100,000 inhabitants in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively. About 3,962 murders were registered just in 2017.
Walter Osmir Vazquez became a priest on 13 Feb. 2010 and was 36 years old. He was appointed priest to the Our Lady Mercy church in the Mercedes Umañana municipality but was originally from Lolotique, where he was buried on Sunday.