San Salvador — Leftist rebels burned buses, teachers called a strike Wednesday, and the country's top commander warned the military's patience with protesters is wearing thin. The teachers were protesting the shooting of a teachers union leader during a recent demonstration. Political violence has been on the rise here, and tension was especially high Tuesday. Rumors circulated that the rebels had advised people to stay off the streets at night. The rebels blew up a power line pylon Tuesday, causing scattered outages. Large areas of the capital were without electricity Wednesday.
Tuesday, 2,000 students chanting antigovernment slogans marched on the National Assembly to protest the shooting. They burned tires, strewed nails on the road, and smashed the windows of a car as it tried to drive past. They sprayed graffiti on the United States Embassy's walls.
Julio Cesar Portillo, secretary-general of the teachers union ANDES, was shot as about 150 protesters were leaving a demonstration Sunday outside Mariona prison. The demonstrators were calling for a general amnesty for political prisoners being held there. More than 300 prisoners in Mariona have been on a week-long hunger strike to push for amnesty.
Union leaders say the firing came from behind the prison walls. They hold the government responsible.
``This criminal act is part of a plan of repression directed by the US Embassy and carried out by the Duarte government,'' ANDES officials said.
But the treasury police chief accused the protesters of shooting Mr. Portillo to create a martyr and provoke an incident.
A series of violent actions prompted a senior churchman to warn in his Sunday homily of a resurgence of death-squad activity. The actions include:
The bombing last week of the office of the Committee of Mothers of Political Prisoners, Assassinated, and Disappeared - a group that investigates the fate of past death-squad victims. The office was destroyed and four people were hurt.
The raid launched on a chapel of the Lutheran Church by unidentified gunmen last week.
The capture and beheading of a peasant union leader last month.