A gunshot to the back on April 24 cost Zashy Zuley del Cid her life.
The murder took place while she was working in an area in the city of San Miguel in which sex workers gather, according to the information that COMCAVIS Trans shared with the Blade. This fact outraged the organization, which is based in the Salvadoran capital, and Colectivo Perlas de Oriente leaders with whom del Cid was working.
COMCAVIS Trans, for its part, issued a statement in which it stressed LGBTQ people in El Salvador should enjoy the right to life, integrity and personal security.
“We suffer attacks for the simple fact of having a different sexual orientation or gender identity, which each person expresses with different patterns and gender roles,” COMCAVIS Trans Executive Director Bianca Rodríguez told the Blade.
“Zashy is one more victim of that prejudice and hatred of which we are victims,” said Rodríguez, recalling del Cid’s work as a grassroots activist in San Miguel that she had been doing since 2017. “We do not want violence to continue against LGBT people, and it is for that reason we have made the corresponding call to the appropriate authorities to be diligent with investigations and (for us) to be recognized as citizens with equal rights and guarantees.”
The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has also condemned del Cid’s murder.
UNHCR in an article it published explained that it, along with COMCAVIS Trans, in 2020 provided del Cid with assistance and housing after criminal elements forcibly displaced her from her home. Del Cid was enrolled in a training program for entrepreneurs and both organizations were giving her support from the framework of protection and protecting the livelihoods of internally displaced people in the country.
Del Cid would have been able to work in a beauty salon in order to support herself.
Community leaders in San Miguel were more united during del Cid’s wake that lasted two days, but Rodríguez told the Blade the fact her family buried her with a masculine gender expression upset them.
“That process was difficult because the family did not want any LGBT people to attend, but a relative eventually allowed Colectivo Perlas de Oriente to attend,” Rodríguez added.
“It is a reprehensible fact, especially because the police have not conducted a credible investigation of the case,” she added. “It is worrying because the prosecutors didn’t even know the victim’s name.”
COMCAVIS Trans figures indicate more than 600 LGBTQ people have been reported killed in El Salvador since 1993.
Statistics also indicate 151 LGBTQ people between 2018 and September 2019 said they were forcibly displaced from their homes. Trans women account for 67.5 percent of these cases, while gay men account for 17.2 percent.
Del Cid’s colleagues will remember her as a woman who was committed to bettering herself with a business through which she could help other trans women get a job, but they will not forget their fear that her case will be another one in El Salvador that will be forgotten forever. That is why LGBTQ organizations will continue to call upon the appropriate Salvadoran authorities to investigate and bring justice for LGBTQ victims of violence.
A groundbreaking El Salvador National Assembly candidate hopes to make history as the first openly gay man elected to the country’s legislative body.
Erick Iván Ortiz is among the candidates that members of Nuestro Tiempo, a new political party, have chosen to run in the National Assembly elections that are scheduled to take place on Feb. 28, 2021.
Ortiz, 29, has an economics degree from the Higher School of Economics and Business in El Salvador. He also studied human rights at Luis Amigó Catholic University in Medellín, Colombia, and participated in a social leadership development course at George Mason University.
Ortiz told the Blade his social activism began a decade ago with a specific focus of defending democracy, promoting institutions and transparency and young people’s participation in politics, among other issues.
“[My work] began in a very difficult context for El Salvador because it was a moment in which we were facing an attack on democracy due to the attempt to tie up the Constitutional Court,” said Ortiz. “We joined forces with different sectors of the population to make ourselves clear, and at that young age I saw myself as an agent of change.”
Following the 2014 presidential campaign in which LGBTQ issues were used in a negative way, Ortiz, along with other people who were uncomfortable with what happened, decided to organize themselves. They formed Colectivo Normal in 2015.
“The collective was born under the analysis that the problem with our society is cultural,” he said. “We have a sexist, violent and homophobic society because this is the social construction that has been made.”
Colectivo Normal has since used cultural and political advocacy to advance their cause, using the arts as a strategy to spark new conversations in order to change the narratives around the LGBTQ community. After a process of deconstruction and constant learning within the collective, members met with different LGBTQ organizations in a round table in which the Salvadoran LGBTI Federation was created.
“I have been able to train alongside El Salvador’s best trans activists like Karla Avelar, Karla Guevara, Ambar Alfaro, Paty Hernández, among other people, and better myself,” Ortiz told the Blade.
Advancing a human rights agenda
Joining a political party is nothing new for Ortiz.
He was previously part of the right-wing Republican Nationalist Alliance (ARENA) party’s youth wing, but Ortiz made his priorities clear.
“The challenge is not to speak with those who are convinced, but to speak where things are more complicated,” he said. “It was important to have a partisan spokesperson to generate an internal conversation around a specific issue.”
Ortiz explained his project within ARENA came to an end and he decided to resign at the same time because his innovative plans to generate policy changes did not align with the party’s vision.
“Now I have decided to join Nuestro Tiempo, because it is a party that includes diversity as one of its seven tenets,” Ortiz told the Blade. “In the face of an openly anti-rights government that has made us invisible and has downplayed LGBTI issues, I decided to take the leap and take the reigns of our representation and get involved in the front lines of politics.”
In El Salvador, as in many other Latin American countries, there is a historic invisibility with respect to LGBTQ political representation. Ortiz said one cannot depend only on promises from parties that do not handle the issue well.
“The only thing we are asking for is equal rights,” he told the Blade. “We don’t want special rights. It is about guaranteeing access to justice, fighting impunity towards hate crimes, guaranteeing there is no discrimination in the labor sector, in health services and education, to name a few.”
“The LGBTI struggle, at the end of the day, is about fighting for an El Salvador that is more inclusive, fairer and more peaceful,” he added.
The coronavirus pandemic has made the beginning of Ortiz’s campaign challenging for him and for his team. Ortiz’s campaign will use the internet to announce his platform and legislative proposals.
Ortiz told the Blade they include a national anti-discrimination law that would include all Salvadorans who have been historically marginalized. Another of Ortiz’s proposals would legalize marijuana as a way to generate new income for the State and to balance public finances while dismantling the black market at the same time.
Ortiz said he will work on the issue of mental health, given the history of conflict through which the country has lived and the insecurity with which it has experienced for years. Ortiz added he considers it necessary to rebuild the social safety net in a comprehensive way that protects vulnerable Salvadorans.
“The programmatic proposal will be consultative, something that will be built with other people and will therefore be able to identify which ideas the citizenry needs to be implemented,” he said.
Short and long-term challenges
“My biggest concern at the moment is the empowerment of the LGBTI community with respect to the current situation,” said Ortiz. “My proposal is to put the LGBTI community at the center of the electoral political proposal, something that has not been done before. This will only be possible with the support and unity of the LGBTI movement.”
Ortiz said now is the right time to put aside differences as a movement and build upon a base of common ground that includes non-discrimination and to clarify any doubts with regard to them.
“The 2021 Legislative Assembly’s composition is a long-term challenge that worries me,” said Ortiz. “We will have a more conservative relationship than the one we currently have, because polls indicate a party like Nuevas Ideas that has proven itself to be openly anti-rights will be in the majority, and this will be added to the traditional conservatism of ARENA, PCN, PDC and also now of VAMOS as a political party.”
This scenario would leave in a marked minority the parties and initiatives that are against the anti-rights proposal being configured.
Ortiz says it would be a big challenge to face an ultra-conservative block in the National Assembly if he were elected. Ortiz adds existing communication channels can be used to advocate from a seat within the legislative body.
Ortiz in his ticket will include Gabriela Martino, a proud mother of a gay son who is an LGBTQ rights activist. Martino has experienced first hand how painful the discrimination a child can face in education and family settings, among others.
“Gabriela is a woman who is very committed to our project, because she also has a voice that speaks from being a straight mother who is proud of her children, of her family and who thinks it is convinced that no boy or girl should spend their childhood suffering from discrimination or violence,” says Ortiz.
Ortiz says he has the support of Nuestro Tiempo, given he did not end up with a bad position on the list of candidates after the internal elections. Ortiz tells the Blade his position demonstrates the commitment the party has on the issue of inclusion.
“I feel an enormous responsibility with this candidacy, because it will be an earthquake for society and therefore bolster who we are,” he said. “I am not possibly going to fully represent all segments of the LGBTI community, but yes, my voice is going to represent the LGBTI voice in the political agenda.”
“We all need to be able to break this glass ceiling that women broke decades ago and to ensure that my candidacy will not be the last one and that each leader there is will be empowered and be able to be those agents of change that society needs,” he concludes.
Three police officers in El Salvador have been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of a transgender woman in 2019.
“20 years in prison for three PNC (National Civil Police) officers for the murder of a member of the LGBTI community,” wrote El Salvador Attorney General Raúl Melara on his Twitter account after announcing the San Salvador court’s verdict against Carlos Rosales, Jaime Mendoza and Luis Avelar for kidnapping Camila Díaz Córdova on Jan. 31, 2019.
Díaz was found hours later with various injuries to her body. She died at Rosales National Hospital on Feb. 3, 2019.
Díaz’s friend, Virginia Flores, told the Washington Blade the U.S. deported her in 2017 after she migrated because of the danger the LGBTQ community — especially trans people — face in El Salvador.
“It is personally the least that I expected, but it is still no fair. It is half justice,” said Flores. “It was immediately clear that it was a hate crime, but I am pleased that they have sentenced these killers.”
The three police officers had their first court hearing on July 5, 2019, after they were charged with kidnapping and aggravated homicide as a hate crime. The judge did not admit the aggravating circumstance in the case.
“By not admitting the aggravating circumstance, the sentence did not reach 50 years in prison,” Mónica Linares, director of Aspidh Arcoiris Trans, a Salvadoran trans advocacy group, told the Blade. “Two previous hearings removed the aggravating circumstance because of lack of evidence.”
“It is regrettable that the reform to the criminal procedure code has yet to be applied and they do not consider hate crimes as such, since society in some way continues to validate violence against trans women,” Ambar Alfaro, founder of the Feminist Association of Trans People of El Salvador, told the Blade. “The judiciary sent a very clear message to the trans community and our struggles, but we obviously celebrate the fact that this is the first case to be prosecuted and that there is a conviction, although it was not what we believe is fair.”
Aspidh Arcoiris Trans in previous press conferences has said prosecutors have not charged anyone with a hate crime based on sexual orientation and gender identity since the provision was added to El Salvador’s Penal Code in 2015.
Aspidh Arcoiris Trans since 2017 has documented more than 20 murders of trans women between 16 and 32-years-old. Aspidh Arcoiris Trans also says a trans woman’s life expectancy in El Salvador is 33 years.
Although LGBTQ activists are partially satisfied with the results of Díaz’s case, there is still a fear these officers may appeal and their sentences will be reduced. They are also worried the officers could be released from prison early because of good behavior.
“As an institution, it is gratifying that at least they sentenced the murders of Camila Díaz Córdova, a trans woman, although it does no refer to the same prosecutor who used Camila’s name each day when referring to her,” said Linares.
The prosecutor always used Díaz’s birth name to refer to her.
“It is ugly to have a fight for the recognition of trans people’s identity, while a law doesn’t exist,” said Linares. “The authorities are those who are disrespecting (us).”
Díaz’s mother, Edith Córdova, in statements to Agencia Presentes, a Latin American press agency, said justice was done for her daughter because authorities captured those responsible and they received due process. Córdova nevertheless said the sentence will not take away the pain of her loss.
“My greatest feeling is that she will never be with me again, nobody will be able to erase that from my mind and my heart,” she said. “It is something very hard for me, it is difficult to accept.”
“Camila’s case will be the first crime against a trans woman that goes to trial and ends with a conviction,” Flores told the Blade. “This sets a precedent in El Salvador, a positive step in recognition of so many hate crimes that have gone unpunished.”
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 Washington 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.”
Last Sunday, Oct. 27, dawned with the blood of one more LGBTQ Salvadoran spilled.
Authorities say a group of armed suspects who were inside a van grabbed Anahy Miranda Rivas, 27, on Boulevard de los Héroes in San Salvador, the Salvadoran capital. Preliminary reports indicate the suspects held and dragged her for several meters along the boulevard before they stabbed her with a sharp object.
The suspects then left Rivas’ body near a nightclub on Boulevard de los Héroes.
Authorities arrived at the scene after a group of people who realized what had happened called 911. Additional details have not been released, but Rivas’ death raises the number of hate crimes that have been committed against the LGBTQ community — especially against transgender woman — in the Central American country to more than 300.
Rivas’ murder has put trans women, who have been historically excluded, on alert. LGBTQ organizations and activists are particularly concerned.
“There have already been seven deaths this year and Anahy’s death is the third most violent,” COMCAVIS Trans Programs Coordinator Amalia Leiva told the Washington Blade. “We urgently need the mechanisms that have already been put into place with (El Salvador’s) National Civil Police and in the prosecutor’s office to be applied.”
Authorities up until now have not made any real advances towards the clarification of hate crimes committed against the LGBTQ community.
“We cannot continue to maintain figures and cases with a high rate of violence,” a concerned Leiva told the Blade. “We need support to continue pushing the government.”
Aislinn Odalys, an independent activist, on social media said the government needs to enact laws that protect trans women and provide them with development opportunities, access to education and inclusion in the work force because they are at high risk when they are working on the street.
“The same system forces us onto the streets to work in sex work and expose ourselves to all kinds of people who can attack us,” Odalys told the Blade.
“Trans women are the ones who are most exposed to all of the abuses that exist in the country, and this crime is a hate crime because of the viciousness and level of barbarity with which they committed it,” said Yve Martir, an LGBTQ activist.
ASPIDH Arcoiris Trans is concerned over authorities’ reluctance to investigate any type of crime and the nonexistent position of the Office of El Salvador’s Attorney for the Defense of Human Rights, which is responsible for ensuring compliance with its mandate. The trans advocacy group has particularly noted this inaction has become a problem under Human Rights Ombudsman Raquel Caballero de Guevara’s administration and current attorney for the Defense of Human Rights José Apolonio Tobar.
“We see silence from the human rights ombudsman who has not commented on the latest hate crimes, as well as Anahy’s case. Obviously, this is because there is no longer that dialogue that existed between civil society (the LGBTQ community) and the ombudsman during the previous administration,” ASPIDH Arcoiris Trans Executive Director Monica Linares told the Blade.
“We don’t even know the current ombudsman,” added Linares.
Three police officers in El Salvador have been charged with the murder of a transgender woman who was deported from the U.S.
The three police officers — Carlos Valentín Rosales, Jaime Giovanni Mendoza and Luis Alfredo — with El Salvador’s National Civil Police’s 911 System in San Salvador face charges of deprivation of liberty by an agent of authority and aggravated homicide as a hate crime in connection with Camila Díaz Cordova’s death earlier this year. The three men made their initial court appearance on July 5.
Díaz’s friend, Virginia Flores, told the Washington Blade Díaz was reported missing at the end of January.
Díaz was later found at Rosales National Hospital in San Salvador with multiple injuries. She died there on Feb. 3.
“I am not 100 percent satisfied, because we already know that organized crime, as opposed to common crime, is the most harmful here in El Salvador,” Flores told the Blade.
Flores, who had been close to Díaz since she moved to San Salvador from Santa María Ostuma in La Paz department in 2007. Flores said Díaz became part of her family.
“The police officers’ lawyers allege that Camila was on drugs, which is not true,” Flores told the Blade..
“She was not a person with problems, she kept to herself,” added Flores. “She didn’t even swear and she only drank at home, but to say that she was going to drink on the street … I don’t believe it.”
Asociación ASPIDH Arcoiris Trans in a statement demanded prosecutors use the reformed penal code to ensure this crime does not go unpunished and serves as an example to state agents. The trans Salvadoran advocacy group also demanded prosecutors apply the reformed penal code to every hate crime committed against trans women and members of the LGBTI community.
Díaz deported from US in 2017
Díaz asked for asylum in the U.S. because of violence against LGBTI Salvadorans and the government’s reluctance to defend their rights. The U.S. deported Díaz in 2017.
“The Salvadoran government owes a lot to all of these families who have lost a loved one who was part of the LGBTI community or specifically a trans woman,” Flores told the Blade. “Trans women, out of everyone in the LGBTI community, are the most stigmatized, the most discriminated because the same LGBTI community sometimes discriminates against us.”
LGBTI activists have reacted to the officers’ arrest positively, even though the case will generate uncertainty.
“I think that this symbolizes a big advance in the issue of access to justice, which is one of the most (tenuous issues) for the LGBTI community in El Salvador, especially for trans women who have been targeted for murder and disappearances since the 1990s,” says ASPIDH Arcoiris Trans Programs Coordinator Amalia Leiva.
The Díaz case has had its initial court hearing and will continue through the discovery case.
Flores says she hopes officers who have been arrested will not be released, even though the judge has ordered they remain in custody ahead of their next court appearance, which has not been scheduled. The officers face up to 66 years in prison if convicted of Díaz’s murder.
“I would expect that these people will not go free during the discovery phase, the case would continue to a final judgment, a trial, and that they will be convicted there,” said Flores.
El Salvador’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security on Nov. 12 launched a campaign that will implement an internal communications protocol on how to improve the way it responds to the LGBTI community’s needs. This effort — #HagoLoJusto or “I’m Doing What’s Right” — is part of the implementation of the policy and seeks to raise awareness of discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to make the aforementioned LGBTI policy known to ministry personnel and their subordinates.“I’m Doing What’s Right” is an effort the ministry is undertaking with the support of the Salvadoran LGBT Federation and its Rights and Dignity Project, a campaign that hopes to eliminate anti-LGBTI stereotypes. Most of the campaign’s activities prioritize the creation of spaces to exchange ideas and to learn with different people, emphasizing LGBTI rights are an issue of access to human rights that should be guaranteed by the ministry and their personnel.
“The launch of the LGBTI Community Care Policy reaffirms the ministry’s commitment to ensure comprehensive care for this important sector of society,” said Eva Rodríguez, subdirector of the Rights and Dignity Project.
“This campaign demonstrates this policy is moving forward and represents a great opportunity for ministry personnel to be able to serve the LGBTI community without discrimination,” she added during a conference.
“Over the last three months we have trained more than 1,000 ministry employees,” said Tatiana Herrera of the Salvadoran LGBTI Federation. “We will continue fighting for love, peace and justice.”
The campaign plans to organize protests, breakfast meetings, film screenings, training workshops, theatre presentations, a photography contest, use social media networks and audiovisual pieces, among other things. Four members of the Salvadoran LGBTI Federation will play a key role in some of these activities.
“These policies are important because, for example, I don’t want to go to a place where they are treating me bad, but now there is a policy that backs me up and personnel will be trained,” Aldo Peña, a member of the Salvadoran LGBTI Federation, told the Washington Blade. “From the moment they see me and I present my document and my name does not correspond with my identity, they will say that it is a transgender person if they are trained.”
The “I’m Doing What’s Right” campaign’s goal is to make personnel more sensitive, and ensure employees of the ministry’s different institutions can learn about all of the aspects of the ministry’s LGBTI Community Care Policy.
“With the launch of this campaign that is going to allow us to reach every one of the ministry’s employees, I am ordering the application of all components of the ministry’s LGBTI Community Care Policy,” said Justice and Public Security Minister Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde.
A group of men, women and children with their backpacks and other things they needed for a long trip left Plaza del Divino Salvador del Mundo in the Salvadoran capital at around 8 a.m. on Oct. 28.
They were part of a caravan that formed with the ultimate goal of reaching the U.S. The Salvadoran government has asked people not to risk their lives on such a trip, but more than 300 people decided to ignore this plea and replicate the caravan of Hondurans that left the city of San Pedro Sula on Oct. 13.
“Stand with the people who will participate in this caravan. Let people know where you are so others know,” reads a message that was published on a Facebook page on Oct. 24. “It is easier for everyone to arrive in groups.”
“There are people from across the country,” it says. “El Salvador emigrates for a better future.”
This page was created on Oct. 16, and it is administered by a person who has not identified themselves. The page encourages people who want to leave the country to create and join groups on social media to find out about groups in their areas that would travel with the caravan.
This situation has sparked concern among different activists and civil society groups, including LGBTI organizations that are part of the LGBTI Salvadoran Federation. COMCAVIS Trans, a transgender advocacy group, published an advisory that warns members of the LGBTI community not to migrate.
“TO MIGRATE is a RIGHT, but doing it in an illegal way carries high risks, especially for LGBTI people,” says the COMCAVIS Trans advisory that it posted to its Facebook page.
“Some LGBTI people migrate to improve their economic conditions, since in El Salvador many LGBTI people, especially transgender women, face clear discrimination in employment,” COMCAVIS Trans Executive Director Bianca Rodríguez told the Washington Blade. “There is a lot of concern over their personal safety, gangs who target them, cruel treatment and abuse of power on the part of police officers and soldiers.”
The advisory, among other things, mentions an LGBTI person should not expect to receive refuge in the U.S. because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It also emphasizes the U.S. government has said anyone who enters the country illegally will be detained and be processed for deportation.
Liduvina Magarin, vice minister of El Salvador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, declared the government would provide “escorts” to the group of Salvadoran migrants with the sole purpose of keeping families informed so they make responsible decisions and not put the lives of children at risk on the migratory route.
But another group of people gathered at Plaza del Divino Salvador del Mundo on Oct. 31 to form a second caravan with the same goal of seeking a better future for their families.
“If it is normally dangerous for us in our daily lives, this risk triples in the caravans,” Aldo Peña of Hombres Trans HT, an advocacy group for trans men, told the Blade. “Not only are they violated or will be violated at the borders by the authorities or become victims of crimes, but they will also be victimized by those who are part of the caravans.
“I would not go to possibly die on the road,” added Peña. “They (migrants) must remember that their families will continue to experience the injustices of this country if they leave.”
A Salvadoran trans advocacy group has issued this advisory that urges LGBTI Salvadorans not to join migrant caravans to the U.S.
Camila Portillo, a trans activist, for her part told the Blade that “we must not stop the dream of emigrating for a better future, if, for example, the government and the country does not guarantee socio-economic development for the LGBTI community.”
“In practice, it is not carried out in the correct way, although there are people in power who tend to support LGBTI people,” she said.
“Here there is a lot of forced internal displacement because of the issue of violence, so I don’t think it’s a trend,” Portillo added. “It’s mostly a structural issue that the government does not guarantee safety not only the LGBTI community, but the population in general, but it is an at-risk population that is more vulnerable and the government therefore must guarantee the welfare of the people.”
Portillo remains hopeful the migrants will have the help they need and be able to fulfill their objectives without many obstacles in the countries through which the caravans pass. She also urged the Salvadoran government to begin to tackle corruption within its institutions, to enforce decrees and different guidelines that have been created in support of the LGBTI community and to make sure it implements them as opposed to simply have them in writing.
“Given the high rates of violence in El Salvador, many of the people who make up that caravan will have their own reasons for migrating,” said Rodríguez. “But the Salvadoran government in this situation should at least coordinate with national institutions, international associations and bodies to provide some protection (to them) along the route and urge countries through which they travel to reach the U.S. (Guatemala, Mexico) protect their human rights.”
Articles 13 and 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says people have the right to move freely, including seeking refuge and asylum in extreme cases where their life is in danger.
People with the first caravan had reached Mexican territory as of deadline and families provided them shelter in which they were allowed to remain together. They also received medical assistance, food and access to baths and showers.