By Nelson Renteria
SONSONATE, El Salvador, Mon. April 4, 2021 (Reuters) – Victoria Salazar, the Salvadoran woman killed in Mexican police custody in the Caribbean beach resort of Tulum and whose death prompted calls for justice from the presidents of El Salvador and Mexico, was laid to rest in a somber ceremony on Sunday.
Some 50 of Salazar’s friends and relatives, many wearing floral arrangements, walked through the La Generosa cemetery in colonial Sonsonate, 40 miles (65 km) west of the capital, San Salvador, to her final resting place.
“We want justice! We hope this is resolved because everyone saw how my sister was murdered. The police did not act right,” Carlos Salazar, the victim’s brother, told reporters during the funeral.
The attorney general’s office of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo on Saturday charged the one female and three male police officers who had detained Salazar with femicide, or the killing of a woman because of her gender.
“The events occurred last Saturday, March 27 … when the victim was detained by the police officers and, after being subjected to excessive and disproportionate force, likely prompting the death of the foreign woman,” the attorney general’s office said.
Quintana Roo Attorney General Oscar Montes de Oca told Mexican radio last week that police were responding to an emergency call for help at a convenience store when Salazar was detained after offering resistance.
An autopsy revealed her neck had been broken. 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 three male officers stood by.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Salazar had been subject to “brutal treatment and murdered” after her detention. Her death sparked outrage on social media and calls by El Salvador’s president for the officers to be punished.
Salazar’s death had echoes of the case of George Floyd, an African-American man who died in May as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, sparking global protests against police brutality.
All four officers in the Salazar case have been arrested and will remain behind bars for the duration of the trial, according to the attorney general’s office.
Salazar had lived in Mexico since at least 2018, when she was granted refugee status for humanitarian reasons, and worked in Tulum cleaning hotels. She had two daughters, aged 15 and 16, who lived with her in Mexico.
“She was a good girl. Nobody deserves to die that way,” said Nelly Castro, a family friend, as hymns played and Salazar’s coffin was lowered into the ground.
(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Additional reporting by Anthony Esposito and Miguel Angel Gutierrez in Mexico City; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Peter Cooney)