On Wednesday, Salvadoran civil police officers detained Manuel Gamez, son of Vidalina Morales, who chairs the Salvadoran Economic Development Association (ADES).
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"Manuel Gamez was arbitrarily detained," ADES denounced, emphasizing that his detention occurs within the framework of the "Exception Regime" that President Nayib Bukele imposed in this Central American country on March 27, 2022.
In an open letter addressed to Raquel Caballero, the Ombudsman for the Defense of Human Rights in El Salvador, Morales recalled that she made statements against State terrorism on YSUCA radio, where she expressed her concern for five environmental activists from the Santa Marta community who were unjustifiably arrested on January 11, 2023.
A few hours later, "in an act that I can only describe as an intimidating, arbitrary, and unfair action, a group of policemen arrested my son Manuel Gamez, when he was playing soccer," Morales said, emphasizing that she does not know the charges under which he was arrested.
This arbitrary act occurred one day after the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, asked the Salvadoran government to release the Santa Marta activists, who remain detained under unknown conditions.
Morales also denounced that the Bukele administration seeks to exploit mining in Santa Marta despite the fact that a regulation explicitly prohibits this activity in the area.
Neverthless, representatives of two consulting companies came to the community to try to convince local authorities about the resumption of mining activities.
Although Bukele's "Exception Regime" was justified by arguing the need to facilitate a “war against gangs,” this measure has allowed the police and military to detain environmental activists and human rights defenders without further argument.