December 24, 2019
Dear Dr. Melara:
We are dismayed to learn that Lisiania Zelaya, lawyer, artist and member of the Amorales Collectve, has been convicted of slander against Ricardo Mendoza and fined US$ 2,027.
Since 2010, Amorales Collective has been using art and drama to publicize and document repeated sexual aggression against women, artists and students that occurs regularly in the drama department of the University of El Salvador (UES).
Since 2016, artists of Amorales have denounced Ricardo Mendoza, a professor at the School of Drama at UES, whom they accuse of abusing his female students during rehearsals of theater productions. Abusive actions, which have been condemned by present and former students, include his asking them to take off their clothes for him.
On May 27, members of the Amorales Collective received subpoenas from the Sixth Sentencing Court of San Salvador accusing them of slander and damage to Mendoza’s honor and personal reputation. The conviction of Lisiania Zelaya highlights the struggle of women against systematic, institutionalized violence.
We strongly urge that you
- take all action necessary to guarantee a university department free from aggression;
- ensure that immediate actions are implemented by state and university authorities to safeguard the security and integrity of students and their defenders who are endeavoring to publicize abuse and bring justice.
Brian J. Stefan Szittai Christine Stonebraker-Martínez