Mexico probes death of Salvadoran woman shown pinned to ground by police

Ana Isabel Martinez and Nelson Renteria
·2 min read

By Ana Isabel Martinez and Nelson Renteria

MEXICO CITY/SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - Mexican prosecutors have opened a homicide investigation into the death of a Salvadoran woman who was shown on video being pinned to the ground by a female police officer, authorities said on Sunday.

Police were "probably" involved in the woman's death, which had damaged "institutions and society," the attorney general's office of the state of Quintana Roo said in a statement after she died on Saturday in the Caribbean beach resort of Tulum.

A video published by news site Noticaribe showed the woman squirming 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, whose authenticity Reuters could not immediately verify, then cut to show the unidentified woman's prone, handcuffed body lying on the road. Officers are later seen moving the limp, shoeless body into the back of a police truck.

Local media identified the woman as Victoria Salazar Arriaza, a 36-year-old Salvadoran. The attorney general's office did not reply to a request for confirmation of her identity.

El Salvador's Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill said on Twitter her government was in touch with Mexican authorities over the death of the Salvadoran woman, without naming her.

Rene Olivares Arriaza, a half-brother of Salazar, said by telephone in El Salvador he had seen the video and that his family had been informed of her death by mutual acquaintances.

Describing the family's keen sense of loss and his "powerlessness" at seeing the video, Olivares said he could not understand how she had lost her life, and urged Mexican authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

Salazar, who had been in Mexico for around three years, left behind two teenage daughters, Olivares said.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said it was not clear why the woman had been detained and that the cause of her death was still under investigation. Three male officers and one female officer had so far been questioned, the office said.

Alejandro Encinas, Mexico's deputy interior minister responsible for human rights, called the incident an act of "police abuse."

The incident bore similarity to the case of George Floyd, an African-American man whose death in May as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck sparked racial justice protests in the United States and around the world.

Widespread and rising violence against women has long outraged many Mexicans, and has sparked major protests under the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez, Dave Graham and Diego Ore in Mexico City and by Nelson Renteria in San Salvador; Editing by Peter Cooney and Sam Holmes)