On Sunday, June 3rd, Rodigo Samayoa, representative to El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly for the right-wing GANA party, was accused of violence against his wife, Mireya de Samayoa. The forensics department confirmed severe bruises to the torso, arms and legs in a report submitted to the Attorney General’s office on Tuesday, June 5.
It initially appeared that the case could be tried under the Special Comprehensive Law for a Life Free of Violence for Women, a landmark piece of legislation that was introduced by the FMLN and approved by the Legislative Assembly on November 25, 2010. However, deputies in the Legislative Assembly are exempted from direct prosecution.
For this reason, both President Funes and the FMLN party issued declarations in early June calling on Deputy Samayoa to forgo his immunity and face the charges. As President Funes stated, “The deputies [of the Legislative Assembly] will have to remove his exemption so that he can face justice just like any other citizen. This is what I hope.” The FMLN made it clear that their party was willing to vote to remove his exemption, releasing the following statement: “Deputies of the Legislative Assembly who approve laws are the most bound to strictly observe and uphold them.”
After learning that the Attorney General’s office was moving forward on charges, despite his wife having withdrawn her accusations, Samayoa accused the Attorney General’s office and colleagues in the Legislative Assembly of pursuing a political agenda. However, he did renounce his exemption, agreeing to submit to judicial authority and collaborate with the investigation and asking forgiveness from those who had voted for him and the GANA party in March’s elections.
However, the day following his press conference, Samayoa boarded a plane to the US where he is supposedly seeking medical treatment.
This case of intra-family violence, as it’s called in El Salvador, came in the wake of several high-profile incidents of violence against women, including a number of murders, and a denouncement by Legislative Assembly employee Giselle Solis that she was sexually harassed by Carlos Reyes, deputy for the ARENA party. In the FMLN’s statement regarding this rising tide of violence, they stated: “As the FMLN’s parliamentary group, we support women who are courageous enough to break the silence and to denounce such acts that threaten their dignity and physical and moral integrity.”