Press Releases

Teamsters, Human Rights Groups Decry Inaction By Salvadoran Government On Gilberto Soto Murder


(WASHINGTON) – A full-page ad scheduled for publication in tomorrow’s edition of El Salvador’s largest daily newspaper denounces the government for its continued inaction on the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Gilberto Soto, a representative of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Soto was killed while visiting El Salvador to establish fraternal relations with transport workers there and throughout Central America. 

The ad, published in La Prensa Grafica, poses the question “Justice or Impunity?” The ad is written as an open letter and decries the high-level cover-up of Soto’s assassination. It calls upon El Salvador’s current attorney general, Luis Martinez, to reopen investigations into this and other emblematic human rights cases.

“It’s time for justice for Gilberto Soto’s family and all who cherish human rights,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa, who joined 14 other human rights advocates in placing the ad.

“Under human rights law there is no statute of limitations on justice for victims such as Gilberto Soto,” said Lance Compa, a professor of international labor and human rights law at Cornell University.  

Professor Compa has conducted studies for Human Rights Watch, the International Labor Rights Forum and other human rights groups, as well as for the United Nations’ International Labour Organization.

“Resolving yesterday’s injustice is essential for confronting and solving today’s human rights challenges. This is why re-opening the Gilberto Soto case will be so important for the international human rights community and for the Salvadoran people,” Compa said.

Noting that in the past, El Salvador’s office of the attorney general was itself involved in a cover-up of the Soto case, the signers urge Attorney General Martinez to work with the PDDH, the country’s human rights office, and independent human rights organizations to identify those who committed the emblematic crimes, and those who covered them up.

Geoff Thale, program director of the Washington Office on Latin America, said he signed the open letter because “The unresolved human rights crimes of the past – the Jesuit case, massacres like El Mozote, like that of Gilberto Soto—involve deep emotional wounds for the families and relatives of those who died. These cases serve as a test for the criminal justice system, especially for the Attorney General’s office, as to whether it can investigate effectively and without political interference.”

“We want to know—will El Salvador reject the cover-up of politically motivated crimes and end the culture of impunity?” said Ron Carver, an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.

For a video with more information on Gilberto Soto and the use of death squads as a tool of political oppression in El Salvador, go to:

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