Mexican president condemns death of Salvadoran woman in police custody


Mexico’s president on Monday sharply condemned the weekend killing of a Salvadoran woman in Mexican police custody, who died after a female officer was seen in a video kneeling on her back.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said 36-year-old Victoria Salazar Arriaza had been subject to “brutal treatment and murdered” after her detention on Saturday by four police officers in the tourist resort of Tulum on the Caribbean coast.

An autopsy showed Salazar’s neck had been broken. “It’s a situation that fills us with sadness, pain and shame,” Lopez Obrador told a regular news conference that was dedicated to defending the rights of women and featured video by speakers including French President Emmanuel Macron.

Salazar’s killers would quickly face justice, Lopez Obrador said, vowing that there would be “no impunity.”Autopsy findings showed Salazar died from spinal fracture caused by the rupture of the first and second vertebrae, the attorney general’s office of Quintana Roo state said.

The office on Sunday opened a homicide investigation into Salazar’s death, leading to the arrest of three male officers and one female officer at the scene. The four face prosecution for suspected femicide, the office said. “The level of force was carried out in a disproportionate, immoderate way and with a high risk to life,” the office said.

Salazar was a single mother who had worked in Tulum cleaning hotels, her mother, Rosibel Arriaza, told reporters outside the foreign ministry in San Salvador.”Authorities are supposed to protect people with all the techniques they have to try to subdue someone, but this was an abuse of power,” Arriaza said.

“She didn’t deserve this death.”Salazar left two daughters, aged 15 and 16, who lived with her in Mexico and were the reason she had emigrated, she added.”She left for a better future for the girls and to help them get ahead,” Arriaza said.

Salazar had lived in Mexico since at least 2018, when she was granted refugee status for humanitarian reasons, Mexico’s migration institute said. A video published by news site Noticaribe showed Salazar writhing and crying out as she lay face down on a road with a policewoman kneeling on her back while male officers stood by.

The video later showed Salazar’s prone, handcuffed body, lying on the road before officers put it into the back of a police truck. Quintana Roo Attorney General Oscar Montes de Oca told Mexican radio police were responding to a emergency call for help at a convenience store when she was detained.

Salazar offered resistance at the store’s exit and police “improperly applied bodily control techniques that ultimately caused (Salazar’s) death”, he added.Her death, which had echoes of the case of George Floyd, an African-American man who died in May as a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck, sparked outrage on social media and calls by El Salvador’s president for the officers to be punished.

Frustration over a failure to curb violence against women in Mexico has sparked major protests under Lopez Obrador.

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