EL SAL: Abuse of the Rights of Women
From: William Bowles
Subject: EL SAL: Abuse of the Rights of Women
6:12 pm Sep 13, 1991
Artists & Writers: El Salvador
EL SAL: SARA CRISTINA CHAN CHAN MEDINA
On the evening of August 19, 1989, uniformed men detained
20-year-old Sara Cristina Chan Chan Medina on a street in a
suburb of San Salvador. She has not been seen since.
Eyewitnesses identified Sara Cristina's abductors as members
of the Air Force.
Sara Cristina was a photographer for the trade union
federation FENESTRAS (Federacion Nacional Sindical de
Trabajadores Salvadorenos). Active trade unionists and their
supporters are at great risk in El Salvador. Many have been
extrajudicially executed or "disappeared" following
abduction by the security forces, so Sara Cristina's mother
Maria Juana Medina immediately took every possible step to
The Air Force headquarters claimed that Sara Cristina had
been transferred to the headquarters of the Treasury Police
who for their part denied ever having held her. Maria Juana
Medina made representations to the Supreme Court, the
National Assembly, the Minister of Defense, the Catholic
Archbishop, the US Embassy and even to President Cristiani.
None were able to clarify what had happened to her daughter.
The Air Force subsequently declared publicly that Sara
Cristina was not in their custody, and on August 28, 1989,
an Air Force captain reportedly denied to her mother's face
that they had ever carried out the detention. He suggested
that she look in the city morgue and threatened her not to
make further accusations.
Maria Juana Medina also denounced her daughter's
"disappearance" to the governmental Human Rights Commission
(CDH) which initially claimed to have carried out an
investigation. Letters from the CDH to Amnesty International
members later in the year indicated, however, that they had
no information whatsoever on this case in their files.
Maria Juana Medina and her family have suffered appalling
abuses at the hands of the Salvadoran military and police
for many years. Ten years ago her husband Jorge Eduardo Chan
Chan, a trade union leader, was killed by "death squads" at
their home and Maria Juana herself was briefly detained a
month later. In the weeks following the abduction of her
daughter, she spent a lot of time in the FENASTRAS offices
from where she made all her inquiries into the case. On
September 18, 1989, she took part in a demonstration
organized by the union to protest against the recent
detention of trade unionists. She and 63 members of various
trade unions were arrested and held by the Treasury Police.
In a testimony given to a local human rights organization
she describes how she was raped, beaten, hung by the feet
and threatened with being submerged in a pool of electrified
water and with having her teeth pulled out.
Before releasing her, the police reportedly threatened to
kill the rest of her family if they ever saw her in another
demonstration, and she was forced to sign a "confession,"
drawn up by the police, which stated that she had joined the
armed opposition group, FMLN, to avenge the death of her
husband and the "disappearance" of her daughter. Maria Juana
Medina was released without charge on September 25, 1989. A
month later Maria Juana Medina and her younger daughter were
injured in an Oct. 31 bomb attack on the FENASTRAS offices.
The explosion killed 10 people, including prominent trade
leaders, and left 34 others injured.
You Can Help:
Please send courteous letters expressing deep concern that
the whereabouts of Sara Cristina Chan Chan Medina have still
not been clarified by the authorities, despite evidence that
government forces were responsible for her arrest. Urge that
the government carry out an immediate, through investigation
into her fate, and bring to justice those responsible for
Presidente Alfredo Felix Cristiani, Presidente de la
Republica de El Salvador, Casa Presidential, San Salvador,
Ambassador Miguel Angel Salaverria, Embassy of El Salvador,
2308 California St., NW, Washington, DC 20008
From: William Bowles
Subject: More Abuses in El Salvador
8:57 pm Sep 13, 1991
"SALPRESS News 09/11/91"
NEWS SYNTHESIS ON EL SALVADOR
for WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 1991
A Special Service of SALPRESS
OFFICE OF WOMEN'S GROUP RANSACKED
A presumed death squad ransacked the offices of the Salvadoran
Women's Movement (MSM) yesterday, according to that group's
leaders. The MSM's Sara Beatriz Bolanos said the intruders stole
$5,000 in cash and another $4,300 worth of property. She said
activists found the symbol of the phantom "Salvadoran
Anti-Communist Front" (FAS) painted on the wall along with threats
and accusations that the women are guerrillas. The FAS has
published threats against opposition politicians, grassroots
activists, and humanitarian workers on several occasions this
year. Bolanos blamed the government and army for the break-in.
REPOPULATED COMMUNITY DENOUNCES NEW ABUSES
Soldiers dumped goods and furniture from a community store into
the street in Perquin in Morazan province, according to a
complaint from residents. The denunciation, issued through a
communique from nearby Segundo Montes City leaders, indicated that
$1,875 worth of staple goods were ruined and $328 worth of
furniture wrecked by the troops. The soldiers gave no reason for
their action, the communique said. Perquin is populated by former
refugees who have returned to El Salvador over the last few
NEWS SYNTHESIS ON EL SALVADOR is a special service of SALPRESS,
available Monday through Friday. For more details on information
included in this summary, contact SALPRESS: 011-525-705-6532
(fax) or 011-525-592-2184 (voice).