Mexico City: Mexican prosecutors on Sunday 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, sparking swift calls by El Salvador’s government for justice.
The woman died on Saturday in the Caribbean beach resort of Tulum. A video published by news site Noticaribe showed her 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, 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.
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.
El Salvador’s government identified the dead woman as Victoria Salazar Arriaza, a 36-year-old Salvadoran.
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele urged Mexico to apply the “full force of the law” on those responsible for her death.
“All we ask for is justice,” he said on Twitter.
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 died, and also called for justice.
Salazar, who had been in Mexico for around three years, left behind two teenage daughters, Olivares said.
Bukele vowed to take care of Salazar’s daughters, their education, and ensure they had “everything they need.” A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said it was unclear 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.