June 8, 2015 at 6:48 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Trans activist murdered in El Salvador

Francela Méndez Rodríguez, transgender, gay news, Washington Blade

Francela Méndez Rodríguez, a transgender woman who was a prominent advocate in El Salvador, was murdered on May 31, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Maybelin Rivas/Asociación Aspidh Arcoiris)

A transgender woman who was a prominent activist in El Salvador was killed on May 31.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in a press release cited local media reports that indicate Francela Méndez Rodríguez was murdered by a group of unknown assailants while visiting the home of a friend, Consuela Flores Martínez, in Sonsonate, which is roughly 40 miles west of the Salvadoran capital of San Salvador.

Flores was also killed.

Méndez, 29, had been a board member of Colectivo Alejandría, a Salvadoran trans advocacy group, since it was founded in 2010. The advocate was also a member of the Salvadoran Human Rights Defenders Network and worked on an HIV prevention program in the Central American country.

Attorney General for the Defense of Human Rights David Morales on June 4 condemned Méndez’s murder.

La Prensa Gráfica, a Salvadoran newspaper, reported Morales described the crime as an expression of anti-LGBT “hate.”

“The LGBTI population is victimized by discrimination, rejection and intolerance that can be seen in grave violations of their human rights,” he said, according to La Prensa Gráfica.

Morales’ office said that nine LGBT Salvadorans have been reported killed since 2009.

Front Line Defenders, a global human rights group, in a press release notes Méndez is the 10th trans woman who has been murdered in El Salvador since the beginning of the year.

Paty Hernández, a former president of Asociación Aspidh Arcoiris, another Salvadoran trans advocacy group, fled to the U.S. because of violence and threats she experienced in her homeland.

She told the Washington Blade on Monday from D.C. where she now lives that a trans man and two gay men have also been killed in El Salvador so far this year. Asociación Aspidh Arcoiris statistics indicate there were 13 reported incidents of anti-LGBT violence in the Central American country between January and May.

“Francela’s murder is something that must not go unpunished,” said Hernández.

El Salvador has one of Latin America’s highest murder rates, but anti-trans violence remains pervasive throughout the region.

A report from the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Transgender Women notes 61 trans women in Colombia were reported killed between 2005-2011. Statistics from the Brazilian Secretariat of Human Rights indicate slightly more than half of the 300 reported LGBT murder victims in the South American country in 2012 were trans.

Yosvani Muñoz Robaina, a trans Cuban sex worker known as La Eterna, was reportedly stoned to death by a group of teenagers in late April. An LGBT rights advocate with whom the Blade spoke last month in Havana criticized authorities who she said concluded the murder was a “crime of passion.”

A 2014 report from Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concludes the average life expectancy of a trans person in the Western Hemisphere is between 30-35 years.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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