Mother of Salvadoran killed by Mexican police seeks help from Biden

·3-min read
A woman holds a boot at a makeshift memorial during a demonstration called "Justice for Victoria" for the death of Salvadoran Victoria Esperanza Salazar, who was subdued by the police in Tulum, a resort in the Mexican Caribbean, in San Salvador, on March 29, 2021

The mother of a Salvadoran woman who died at the hands of Mexican police asked US President Joe Biden Wednesday to grant refuge to the victim's young daughters.

Rosibel Arriaza, mother of Victoria Salazar, spoke to AFP as she was preparing to leave for Mexico from El Salvador to recover her daughter's body and be reunited with her granddaughters, aged 15 and 16 -- one of whom had gone missing but has since been located.

"I'm afraid that something will happen to my girls in Mexico and I don't want to bring them to El Salvador either. I want to ask the president (Joe) Biden to help me... and give refuge to my grandchildren in the United States," Arriaza told AFP by telephone.

According to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Salazar was "subdued by four individuals" on Saturday in the Caribbean beach resort of Tulum.

"She was brutally treated and murdered. It fills us with sorrow, pain and shame," he said on Monday.

"All those responsible are going to be punished. They are already in the process of being prosecuted and there will be no impunity," the president vowed.

The 36-year-old mother of two had lived in Mexico for five years and worked in a hotel, according to her family in El Salvador.

Oscar Montes de Oca, prosecutor for the state of Quintana Roo, home to Tulum, said Salazar was involved in an altercation with the manager of a grocery store, who called the police.

- 'Disproportionate force' -

He said the police used "disproportionate force" against Salazar, which caused a fatal spine fracture.

Salazar's mother has likened her killing to the treatment in the United States of George Floyd, who died as a policeman knelt on his neck.

Montes de Oca said the four officers suspected in Salazar's death were in custody and would be brought before a judge to face charges of femicide, punishable by up to 50 years in prison.

El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele called for those responsible to face justice.

The government of El Salvador has offered Arriaza help to travel to Mexico and for her stay there.

"I'm going with the hope of seeing my granddaughters, consoling them," Arriaza said.

Bukele tweeted Wednesday that Salazar's oldest daughter, who had initially been reported missing, had "been located" and "is physically fine" in the "custody" of the Quintana Roo prosecutor's office, which reported that she had shown up voluntarily.

On Tuesday, Bukele tweeted that Mexican police had arrested Salazar's partner, a Mexican national, accused of having sexually abused her older daughter.

Salazar had recently reported her partner and brought her daughter to a care facility.

A US State Department report Tuesday highlighted abuses committed by members of the Mexican security forces, including killings, torture and violence against journalists and rights defenders, and impunity for violence against women.

But Lopez Obrador on Wednesday rejected the report saying: "We don't express opinions about human rights violations in the United States. We're respectful, we can't have an opinion, and why do they, the US government, have an opinion on issues that affect only Mexicans?" he told journalists.

On Monday, Mexican soldiers shot and killed a Guatemala truck driver at an army border checkpoint, an act described as "an erroneous reaction" by Mexico's Defense Minister Luis Sandoval.

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