Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad
- Published: 17 September 2014
- Hits: 48
Justice for Denis Vladimir Rivas Ramirez, 5th year Architecture student at the University of El Salvador, Scholarship student with San Francisco de Asis Parish in Mejicanos, CIS and St. Peter’s Church in Kansas City murdered on September 2, 2014.
Denis during a visit to St. Peter’s Parish in November 2013
Denis Vladimir Rivas Ramirez, born Feb. 16, 1991, came from a humble background in the community of San Judas in Mejicanos and led an exemplary life. He lived with his younger sisters Diana and Elsy and both of his parents who are originally from Ilobasco, Cabañas. Denis was always kind and considerate of others and wore a sincere and calm smile. He worked with the San Francisco de Asis Parish youth council to help guide youth at high risk of engaging in or being victimized by violence and in his spare time. He loved to play soccer/futbol with his friends. When his life was abruptly taken, Denis was immersed in his last year of course work for a degree in Architectural Engineering at the University of El Salvador and had advanced to the intermediate level of English at CIS where he studied for the past 2 ½ years.
Denis entered our lives at CIS when he was admitted to the CIS scholarship program in Mejicanos, which partnered with San Francisco de Asis Parish in Mejicanos and St. Peters in Kansas City, Missouri. Denis had a strong desire to learn but had he lacked the funds to continue higher education. He was awarded a scholarship because of his outstanding leadership qualities and his dedication to giving back to his community and he was later selected to represent the CIS scholarship program in a visit to St. Peter’s in Kansas City in 2013. He treasured his opportunities with the CIS to visit other Salvadoran villages like Cinquera at the CIS scholarship retreat and Isla Tasajera to visit the women’s sewing cooperative with a delegation from St. Peter’s as well as participate in English classes at the CIS. Denis had a bright future, and he brought a tremendous amount of hope and inspiration to his family, his parish, his sister Parish in the U.S., the CIS, and his colleagues at the Architecture Engineering Department of the University of El Salvador. His life was a symbol of hope for youth in high risk areas of the country and youth without economic resources.
The night of Denis’ Disappearance
On Tuesday, September 2nd, after Denis’ classes at the University he stayed late to play soccer at the University Sports Arena. The CIS English cycle had finished the previous week – where he would generally spend Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings until 7 p.m. His soccer match with his friends ended around 5 p.m. and Dennis stayed on to play soccer with professors from the University. Then as usual he went to the bus stop near the sports arena which is also the bus stop he would take leaving the CIS. He generally would take the 44 or the 9 bus to the stop of Santa Maria in Ayutuxtepeque, and walk the principal street between Mariona, Mejicanos and Ayutuxtepeque to his home which is near the Pastoral Center Octavio Ortiz or the end of the 2A bus route. However, one student who usually took the same bus as Denis saw Denis get on the 30 bus between 6:00 – 6:30 p.m. His university colleagues then speculate that since he boarded the 30 he was going to stop to see his thesis partner since he lived in Zacamil off of that bus route. He had not seen his thesis partner since he had been in bed with the Chikungunya virus and Denis did not have a phone to notify him of his coming. His thesis partner lived in the neighborhood controlled by a different gang than the gang that controls the area where Denis lived. Denis did not have his DUI – or identity card- on him when he was found. People speculate that the gangs asked to see his DUI and when they saw the address of a different gang zone they killed him. Gang members kill people as part of their initiation and take the DUI as a trophy. Dennis was shot with projectiles from a fire arm through the cranium and presumably died quickly. His body was found on the street to Nejapa Power, Canton El Angel, Apopa, San Salvador, and registered by the local Morgue of Medicina Legal in Apopa at 3:40 a.m. on Wednesday, September 3rd, as unknown since his DUI had been taken. Later his family and students who were searching identified his body the following day on Thursday, September 4th.
Unfortunately, the reality in El Salvador is that one cannot go from one neighborhood to another in high risk areas without securing permission first. For the last year and 1/2 for example, the CIS scholarship program in Mejicanos had to meet in 8 separate places so that youth do not have to cross into prohibited neighborhoods. While CIS can secure protection in local communities when delegations and foreigners visit El Salvador; it is a much different reality for people who live here and especially young people to be able to travel freely from one neighborhood to the next. People who ride the buses are subject to robbery on a regular basis. In addition, gang members regularly board the bus and declare they will not rob you if everyone gives them a dollar. And since bus routes are controlled by different gangs and the drivers are obliged to pay “rent” or extortion fees on a regular basis, bus drivers are often targeted for assassination if they don’t pay the “rent” or by the rival gang. Civilians often get caught in the crossfire. The vast majority of Salvadorans depend on the bus for transport because vehicles and gas prices are not within reach of the vast majority of salaries. We ask the question, if the sons and daughters, grandchildren or relatives of the legislatures – a privileged class – had to ride the bus daily, would the same insecurity exist?
What to do?
Of course there are many things which need to be done – policies need to be developed and broadened that invest in human development, jobs, education, and recreation so youth have a future in El Salvador. We need security programs that are not based solely on repression – that carry out real investigations, find proof, and mete out punishment. More than thirty years of U.S. policy in the region, in compliance with the wealthy elite of El Salvador, have bolstered military dictatorships and supported economic policies such as CAFTA, the Millennium Fund and the privatization of public services. These policies principally benefit the wealthy elite and do not generate living wages for the majority. The war on drugs relies on repression and arms sales and does not stop the principle market of consumers in the U.S. Immigration policies in the USA have broken up families and led to their disintegration. This makes the region fertile for gangs, thus contributing to a viscous cycle of violence.
The CIS is working with other human rights groups and communities to form a plan of action, but we want to ask our brothers and sisters living outside of El Salvador for the following support in Denis’s name:
- Write a letter to the National Civilian Police, the Minister of Justice and Public Security and to the President of the Republic to ask for:
- An exhaustive investigation into the murder of Denis Vladimir Rivas Ramirez, DUI 04330069-3.
- Demand that security and cameras be placed on all public transportation.
- In the context of territorial violence, consider a reform to the law of the RNPN – National Register of Natural Citizens – to not include people’s address written on their identity document, but on a chip with the information.
Letters should be quality rather than quantity – well written in Spanish from Professors, religious leaders,
Politicians or other community leaders. Letters should be on letterhead and signed, with a copy sent to:
Ministro de Justicia y Seguridad Publica, Benito Antonio Lara Fernández
Ministerio de Justicia
Alameda Juan Pablo II y 17 Ave. Norte
San Salvador, El Salvador
Comisionado Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde
Director Policía Nacional Civil
(Street address same as above)
Honorable Presidente Salvador Sánchez Cerén
Presidente de la Republica de El Salvador
Alameda Doctor Manuel Enrique Araujo No. 5500
San Salvador, San Salvador
El Salvador, Central América
- For those who want to give opportunities to study for young people like Denis, you can make a tax-deductible contribution in Denis’s name to the CIS scholarship fund (or to your local church or community fund if you have a local program supporting a CIS community scholarship program), which will give the opportunity for more youth to study and have the tools to develop public policies and programs in favor of the majority. CIS provides an average scholarship of $300 for one year to go to high school and $1,000 per year to go to university - these may vary depending on the location of the village and travel costs to get to school. Tax deductible donations can be made out to: LOS OLIVOS CIS/ PO BOX 76 / WESTMONT, IL 60559 or online: http://cis-elsalvador.org/index.php/en/donate.
San Salvador, September 9, 2014.
- Published: 08 September 2014
- Hits: 62
Check out our 2014 Holiday Catalog!
Click here to download a PDF version so that you can print it and share it with friends, or preivew the pages below!
- Published: 06 May 2014
- Hits: 1282
Jan. 4th-Mar. 27th, 2015
Being an election volunteer is a great way to improve your Spanish,
learn about democratic development, electoral processes,
and Salvadoran history and culture.
(Plus, your duties end right before Easter, which is
a great week to be travelling in El Salvador).
Click Here for more information!
- Published: 13 April 2014
- Hits: 1440
CIS's 10th International Election Observation Mission
Runoff Press Release
The CIS has observed every election in El Salvador since the 1992 Peace Accords. For this year's presidential elections, we have had a group of observers following the process since October, 2013. CIS' preliminary report after the first round of voting was used in training for the municipal electoral authorities as well as influenced the guidelines for the counting of votes from abroad. For the runoff election on March 9th, 2014, we observed in 4 departments in 8 large, medium and small municipalities governed by different parties. We also observed in the voting center for Salvadorans Abroad.
We congratulate the Salvadoran people for their overwhelming electoral participation and commitment to strengthening the democratic process in El Salvador.
Similarly, we congratulate the Supreme Electoral Tribunal for the high level of transparency throughout the electoral process which has contributed to generating maximum confidence in the announced results.
We understand that the second round of elections can be polarizing; however this is part of the democratic process.
We congratulate the FMLN for their prudence and respect regarding the final scrutiny process and the results.
At the same time, we want to express our concern regarding the actions of some candidates and senior officials from the ARENA party who declared themselves the winners, usurping the authority of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. We condemn the belligerent declarations of the presidential and vice presidential candidates of ARENA, which could incite the use of violence, military and police intervention to defend their antidemocratic assertion of power.
Voter reception at the polls was orderly and more efficient during the second round due to the experience acquired during the first round of voting.
Nevertheless, tension was palpable and there was plenty of fear and intimidation campaigning before the second round of elections. For example:
- Three days before the elections, employees of ARENA mayors organized protests, closing principle arteries of the country with the intention to provoke violence and compare El Salvador with the disturbances in the streets of Venezuela.
- Text messages were received the evening of Saturday March 8th, from the number 7841-1268 with the following message: “THINK ABOUT THIS, the attorney general confirms that the FMLN Government has paid the gangs for a truce that has caused the increase in delinquency, disappearances, assaults and extortions. PASS THIS ON”. This message was sent to various phones including four of our observers.