Around 50 street vendors in Santa Tecla, El Salvador, were injured by police during a protest against Mayor Roberto d’Aubuisson's decision to not allow them to sell their goods in the streets during Christmas and New Years. At least one person is reported dead and another is in critical condition.
A confrontation between municipal guards and informal vendors Thursday left around 50 people injured, at least 17 of them injured by gunshots, Salvadoran authorities confirmed.
The director of the National Hospital of San Rafael said 17 people were shot with live rounds. “They are real firearms — lead is what they fired at people,” he told Canal Genteve.
One of the 17 people injured by gunshot, 35-year-old Ivan Alexander Sandoval, died in a hospital due to the wounds he sustained.
Despite the injuries, Mayor d’Aubuisson of the Arena party said in a press conference he was “not interested in injuries of the unruly.”
The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) condemned the attack. “The Metropolitan police has to safeguard the muncipal patrimony, not to attack, much less to shoot at the community,” a member of the city council said in a press conference.
The mayor, however, contends “the Metropolitan police did the right thing” because they were threatened by rocks and sticks.
Cristina Cornejo, the regional leader of the FMLN said the incident shows the “intolerant, authoritarian, and violent” style of Arena.
The informal vendors told local news outlets that the police opened fire first, prompting them to respond with stones.
El Salvador’s General Attorney’s Office is currently investigating the case. Prosecutors say there are “four areas where they have found shells,” and confirmed one of the vendors was in critical condition in the hospital after being wounded in the head.
The National Civil Police has not arrested any of the metropolitan agents implicated in the attack.
One vendor told local media “we want to work to sustain our children … there is too much poverty, there is to much hunger in this place. We only want to work.”
After the deadly police attack on protesters, one man demanded the resignation of Santa Tecla’s mayor, municipal council, and the director of the metropolitan police. He was cheered by the crowd of protesters.
In late October, 2,000 Salvadorans joined the Migrant Exodus to the United States, in search for a life free from violence and want.