Welcoming the New Year in El Salvador

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Welcoming the New Year in El Salvador Powered By Docstoc
					               S ALVANET
A Publication of Christians for Peace in El Salvador, CRISPAZ
                                                                                        January / February
                                                                                                  2000
                                                                                        In this issue . . .
                                                                                        National Reality
                                                                                        • El Salvador 2000 1–2
      Welcoming the New Year in El Salvador                                             • 1999 In Review     3

by Jeanne Marie Rikkers                                                                 Crispaz Connections

    Standing at the edge of the Pacific      union organizers’ victory in reinstat-     The CRISPAZ team 4–5
Ocean at the dawn of the year 2000,          ing 300 maquila workers, refugees
the waves wash sand over my toes. My         from flood areas drinking clean water      Wellsprings

tongue tastes warm salt in the air. I won-   from a new well, cardboard communi-        Meeting the Victims,
der what place tiny El Salvador holds        ties slowly transforming into a neigh-     Falling in Love      6–7
in the world, in this historical moment,     borhood of cement block homes,
in this particular juncture in time.         families reconciling after years of        Letter to the Churches
                                             forced separation, a mass at El            The UCA Martyrs:
    People are reading the morning
                                             Mozote. As we face the next years—         Ten Years Later  8–11
newspapers like they were guides to
                                             a new period in the history of El
navigating a minefield. They hope
                                             Salvador and the world—the human           SOA Update               12
that all the bad news might tell them
                                             stories and the God stories prove to be
how not to end up in the wrong place
                                             the more reliable guides to navigating
at the wrong time. A growing fear                                                       Reading List             12
                                             the minefield. It is time again to tell
surrounds them: maybe El Salvador
                                             the stories to new generations, to hear
is the wrong place at the wrong time.
                                             them again ourselves. We don’t need
El Salvador 2000 according to the
                                             the stories for nostalgia, but rather as
media: economic confusion, political
                                             a way to discover in ourselves the
sterility, violence, families torn apart,
                                             keys to facing new problems and the
corruption, empty religiosity, consum-
                                             strength to pass through new rivers.
erism, everyone dreaming of getting
                                                                                          CRISPAZ, Christians
out and going North.                             On March 24th of this year, thou-
                                                                                          for Peace in El Salva-
                                             sands of people around the world will        dor, was founded in
   But, the newspaper doesn’t tell the
                                             remember Monseñor Romero. Prob-              1984. We are a faith-
whole story. It never has. There is a
                                             ably half of those people were not           based organization
human story here, there is a God story.
                                             alive at the time of his martyrdom and       dedicated to mutual
There are many stories: Grandma
                                             many of us who were alive weren’t            accompaniment with
Conchita learning to read, women                                                          the church of the poor
                                                       aware of the significance. Yet
                                                       we remember him, we bring          and marginalized
                                                       his memory to mind, we             communities in El
                                                       honor it. We honor his             Salvador. In building
                                                                                          bridges of solidarity
                                                       memory by continuing the
                                                                                          between communities
                                                       struggle, by looking for new       in El Salvador
                                                       injustices to denounce and         and those in
                                                       new ways to denounce               our home
                                                       injustice. These are the           countries,
                                                       challenges of the New Year:        we strive
                                                       to face the reality of death       together
                                                       that is so graphically out-        for peace,
                                                       lined in our newspapers and        justice and
                                                       at the same time embrace           human
                                                                                          liberation.
                                                       the life-giving stories of
CRISPAZ has four programs:
† CRISPAZ Volunteer Program (CVP)
† El Salvador Encounter                                        liberation and hope. It is well       northern faction of the solidarity
  Delegation Program (ESE)
† Communication Information                                   worth our time to read Romero’s        movement tends to suffer from a
  Network on El Salvador (CINES)                              homilies again. There is no doubt      collective case of low self-esteem.




                                        CLOSE UP ON CRISPAZ
† Summer Immersion Program
                                                              as to the prophetic nature of his      We berate ourselves for what
SALVANET, a project of CRISPAZ,
                                                              message, because it does speak to      remains undone and forget to
is published six times a year.
Tara Mathur, Editor
                                                              us today.                              celebrate what we have done,
                                                                                                     and more importantly who we
CRISPAZ Board Members:                                             In CRISPAZ we face the New
Bill Hutchison, Chair                                                                                are. And yet, when we meet up
                                                              Year with a sense of real support
Bill Van Lopik, Vice Chair                                                                           at Fort Benning, when we ex-
Alice Gerdeman, Secretary                                     from both the Salvadoran and the
Megan Kromer, Treasurer                                                                              change e-mails at Christmas,
                                                              international solidarity communi-
Ren Austing                                                                                          when enter a house blessed by
Angela Casanova                                               ties. My recent trip to the United
                                                                                                     a Salvadoran cross, we recognize
Salvador Contreras                                            States proved to me once again
Catherine Cornell                                                                                    a very important bond. Those
                                                              that we are intimately connected
Gary Cozette                                                                                         bonds are what will keep us
Carol Davis                                                   by our experiences in El Salvador.
John Fife
                                                                                                     human in this new century.
                                                              It is a gospel connection, a con-
Alejandro Hernandez                                                                                  Those bonds are what will give
Peter Hinde                                                   nection of good news, of hope.
                                                                                                     our children a community where
Mary Kalil                                                    CRISPAZ is growing and evolv-
E. Huxley Miller                                                                                     they can belong. Indeed, there is
                                                              ing in ways that we believe
Gail Mott                                                                                            cause for celebration.
Steve Privett, S.J.                                           respond to the new realities. It
Martha Stricker                                               is with a sense of humility that            January and February are
Jay Von Handorf
Laurance Walton                                               we come close to the tomb of           passing quickly. Soon many of us
CRISPAZ Staff:                                                Monseñor Romero and ask that           will be gathered to celebrate the
Jeanne Marie Rikkers,                                         he accompany us in this work           life and death of Monseñor
El Salvador Coordinator
Tara Mathur, CINES and
                                                              today. Our volunteers, the sum-        Romero. We will see each other
Artesania Staff                                               mer interns, the delegations, the      and celebrate our own lives and
Peggy O’Neill, CVP Staff                                      Board of Directors, staff and all of   even thank God for the sacrifices
Jay Gutzwiller, ESE Staff
Elizabeth Hernández, El Salvador                              the people who have supported          we have made to become authen-
Office Administrator                                          CRISPAZ in one way or another          tic humans in an inhumane
Stan deVoogd, US Promotions                                   over the years have shown that         world. The challenges are many,
and Development
Jennifer Collins, US Office Manager                           we are in this relationship for the    but the sources of strength and
                                                              long haul. Think of what first         hope are close at hand. 2000 will
CRISPAZ Volunteers:                                           grabbed your heart about El            be another year in which it is our
Yon Hui Bell
Paul Darilek                                                  Salvador and you will know why         privilege to tell the stories of how
Loretta Geuenich                                              this is a long-term commitment.        God passed through El Salvador
Tom McGregor                                                  Each person has a story of why         with a message for the world.
Mary Frances Ross
                                                              they are here. These are the           2000 will give us another oppor-
CRISPAZ relies on your contribu-                              stories that form our collective       tunity to introduce new people to
tions to produce this publication and
to continue its accompaniment with                            biography of hope.                     the gift of walking with the poor.
the Salvadoran people through our                                                                    2000 will give us new human
different programs.                                               The work of building peace,
                                                                                                     stories to share that bear witness
All contributions are tax deductible.                         of forming relationships across all
                                                                                                     to the God of History at work
  For more information about our                              kinds of barriers, and of practic-
programs or to make a contribution,                                                                  once again in our lives.
                                                              ing our faith is not simple work,
       please contact us at:
            CRISPAZ                                           or easy work. But, in spite of the          The sun sets on the Pacific
       319 Camden Street                                      difficulties, burn-out and even        Ocean. There is nothing like a
    San Antonio, Texas 78215                                  sacrifice, we all know when it has     Pacific sunset in El Salvador to
           210-222-2018
    email: crispaz@igc.apc.org                                been worth it. We look around          remind us that “todavia cantamos,
            CRISPAZ                                           and we see a hundred people            todavia pedimos, todavia soñamos,
      Apartado Postal 2944                                    more dedicated than us, more           todavia esperamos.” (We still sing,
        Centro de Gobierno                                    radical, more serene, living more      we still ask, we still dream, we
    San Salvador, El Salvador
         011-503-226-0829
                                                              simply. It appears that the whole      still hope.) Happy New Year.
  email: pazsal@netcomsa.com

                                                                                                                      Page 2   •   SALVANET
                                                                             National Reality
                                 1999                                                 The Legislative Assem-
                        The Year in Review                                     9      bly approves 34 reforms
                                                                             to the Penal Code and Process.
                                                President Flores an-
                                        24      nounces his “Economic                The National Associa-
                           January                                            16     tion of Judicial Employ-
                                       Reactivation Proposal” confirm-
          Ex-guerilla leader Joaquín
  28      Villalobos implicates
                                       ing the application of an added       ees began an indefinite strike.
                                       value tax on agricultural prod-
 FMLN political leader Shafick
                                       ucts and medicines and says                    The National Emer-
 Handal in the kidnapping of
                                       that salary increases for public       28      gency Committee
 Kerim Salume. Handal denies
                                       employees will be impossible.         declares a “red alert” due to
 accusations that he or the
                                                                             18 days of non-stop rain.
 Communist Party (PC) played
 any role in the kidnappings.                                         July
                                                Unionized schoolteachers                               October
                                        13      in the National Associa-              The Ministry of Health
                         February                                              1      informs that the rains
                                       tion of Salvadoran Educators
          The Public Healthcare
   9      Workers’ Union de-
                                       begin a labor stoppage demand-        affected 11,500 people in six
                                       ing salary increases.                 departments of the country.
 nounces a supposed plan to
                                                                             The loss in crops totals almost
 privatize the service and to
 carry out massive layoffs in                                      August    25 million colons ($2.9 million).
 the Ministry of Health.                        Ex-patrol members,
                                        12                                            ARENA announces Luis
                                                organized under the
                                       Movement of Integrated Labor
                                                                               2      Cardenal as its candidate
                             March                                           for the mayor of San Salvador in
                                       Organizations (MOLI) and the
         ARENA candidate                                                     the March 2000 elections.
   7     Francisco Flores becomes
                                       Association of Salvadoran Agri-
                                       cultural Producers (APROAS)
 president with 53% of the vote.                                                      Public Health Care
                                       protest demanding indemnity for
                                       services they provided during the
                                                                              15      union leaders begin an
           President Bill Clinton                                            indefinite strike demanding 92.9
   8       visits El Salvador. He
                                       war. As a result of police inter-
                                                                             million colons ($10.7 million) for
                                       vention, two protesters are killed.
 confirms the establishment of a                                             salary increases and threaten to
 bilateral investment treaty.                                                take the strike to a national
                                                It is revealed that ARENA
                                        15      gave 10 million colons       level.
                               May     ($1.15 million) to 5,000 members
   9     The FMLN holds its            of APROAS as “Mitch” relief.                                 December
         National Convention in        The money was given just days                  A confrontation between
 which they decide upon a total        before the presidential elections.      1      the police and striking
 renovation of their leadership.                                             health care and judicial workers
                                                San Salvador mayor           leaves one person unconscious
                               June     23      Héctor Silva confirms his    and 7 more wounded.
          Ex-director of the State     intentions to participate in the
   2      Intelligence Organiza-       2000 elections, but only if he is              Eight political parties in
 tion Mauricio Sandoval is named       nominated on a coalition ticket.        8      the Legislative Assem-
 Director of the National Civilian                                           bly confirm their decision to
 Police.                                                      September      carry out a political trial against
                                               After 100 days in office,     Human Rights Ombudsman
                                         6     public opinion offers         Eduardo Peñate as a result of
                                       President Flores a 5.3 (out of 10).   irregularities in his office.

January–February, 2000 • Page 3
 CRISPAZ Connections
G etting to know the CRISPAZ team . . .                                              Our efforts to experience mutual accompaniment with the Salvadoran people and to continue to
                                                                                 educate ourselves and our brothers and sisters in the United States happens thanks to the work of a
                                                                                 unique group of individuals both in El Salvador and in the United States. Together with a supportive
                                                                                 and committed Board of Directors who come from all parts of the United States and El Salvador, the
                                                                                 following individuals are working fulltime to fulfill the CRISPAZ mission.
                                                                                 El Salvador Staff . . .
                                                                                                      JEANNE MARIE RIKKERS                                 ELIZABETH HERNANDEZ
                                                                                                      is the CRISPAZ Programs Coordinator             MARTINEZ, Administrative Assis-
                                                                                                      in El Salvador. Originally from St. Paul,       tant, is originally from Ciudad Delgado,
                                                                                                      Minnesota, Jeanne has been living in            San Salvador. She has been working
                                                                                                      El Salvador for seven years. In addition        for CRISPAZ for one year. She likes
                                                                                                      to her work with CRISPAZ, she enjoys            working with CRISPAZ because it works with people who are
                                                                                                      spending time with her three kids, reading,     often times forgotten by the government and because the work
                                                                                                      visiting a local prison, attending the martyr   is carried out in a way in which all people are treated equally,
                                                                                 commemorations and eating pupusas! About her work, Jeanne            regardless of their social class. Outside of her work, Elizabeth
                                                                                 says “I love that CRISPAZ provides people with opportunities         likes to spend time with her two sons, to read about national
                                                                                 to humbly try to transform their lives and the world.”               reality, and is in the process of learning English.
 CRISPAZ, Christians for Peace in El Salvador, was founded in 1984. We are a




                                                                                 PEGGY ONEILL, SC, is from New Jersey and has                         JAY GUTZWILLER is from Cincinnati, Ohio and
                                                                                 been living in El Salvador for thirteen years. She has recently      joined CRISPAZ as the delegation leader in June 1999. Jay
                                                                                 joined the CRISPAZ team in El Salvador in the role of spiritual      says that he has “always felt a strong sense of solidarity with
                                                                                 accompaniment. She lives in the Suchitoto zone and is                the people of El Salvador because of its violent history, the
                                                                                 involved with a variety of projects.                                 unfathomable suffering the majority of Salvadorans experi-
                                                                                 She teaches at the UCA’s School of                                   enced, and the role                            that faith played in
                                                                                 Theology, works with the Inter-Novitiate                             the popular move-                              ments . . . . Work-
                                                                                 Program and with the Augsburg College                                ing with CRISPAZ                               gives me the
                                                                                 program in El Salvador, and she works                                opportunity to live                            and work among
                                                                                 with a variety of projects in the commu-                             amazing people                                    and communities
                                                                                 nities in her area. About her work with                              and allows me to fa-                           cilitate potentially
                                                                                 Salvadorans, Peggy says that “they have                              life-changing expe-                            riences for people
                                                                                 taught me to live a spirituality of resistance and creativity.       of all ages when they come on a delegation. It is in witnessing
                                                                                 I want to continue to accompany them from the motivation of          these selfless, dedicated people in the impoverished commu-
                                                                                 a shared faith in a God of liberation and freedom. They have         nities that I truly discover what it means to live the message
                                                                                 convinced me that religious life is about living on the margins.     of Jesus today. CRISPAZ has provided me with a wonderful
                                                                                 I am bumping into the real each day here. These people               faith community in which to share in the process of spiritual
                                                                                 have made me want to be bold. They have birthed in me that           growth.” In addition to his work with CRISPAZ, Jay likes to visit
                                                                                 passion Jesus had for the reign of justice.”                         communities outside of San Salvador, visit the Quetzaltepeque
                                                                                                                                                      prison, and go dancing!

                                                                                                     TARA MATHUR is the editor of Salvanet and she coordinates CRISPAZ’ handcrafts project. Tara is
                                                                                                     from Wichita, Kansas, and has been in El Salvador for four years, initially as a long-term volunteer and then
                                                                                                     later as a staff person. Tara says, “I appreciate so many things about my life in El Salvador. But I am especially
                                                                                                     grateful for the Salvadorans who continue to accompany me through the painful and joyful process of having
                                                                                                     my ‘shell of ignorance’ broken open and for the opportunity to live a simple lifestyle full of wealth.”

                                                                               faith-based organization dedicated to mutual accompaniment with the church of the poor and marginalized

                                                                                                                                                                                             Page 4      •   SALVANET
LONG-TERM VOLUNTEERS IN EL SALVADOR . . .
                     YON HUI BELL, from San Antonio,               LORETTA GEUENICH is from
                     Texas, has been working in El Salvador        Adelaide, South Australia and has been in
                     for two and a half years. She works in the    El Salvador for about a year. She works in
                     Suchitoto zone in the areas of popular        Suchitoto as a support to a coalition of
                     education, literacy and community             women’s organization in her region. The
                     schools. She is currently focusing her        coalition works to facilitate communication
                     energies on the development of a rural        and networks among the participating
                     library and community center together         organizations. Loretta chooses to work in El Salvador
with a group of community members. Yon Hui says that               “because some slender thread pulled me here, challenging
she enjoys working in El Salvador because “I have found a          my ego and warming my heart with quirkiness and I didn’t
community, a place where I can be of help but also have real       seek to quash the expression of passionate living and being.
friends. I feel constantly challenged—I can never ‘forget’ the     Here I encounter a global sense of reality in my day-to-day life
poverty and violence that exist in the world.”                     that I was struggling to find in Australia.”

MARY FRANCES ROSS has been working with                            PAUL DARILEK oversees a team of water-well drillers.
the Maria, Madre de los Pobres (Mary, Mother of the Poor)          The team is drilling wells in different Salvadoran communities
                     parish clinic pharmacy since April 1999.      and they have pri-                          marily been working




                                                                                                                                      our home countries, we strive together for peace, justice and human liberation.
                      She is not only the pharmacist, but also     the in “Bajo Lempa”                         zone of Usulután.
                      pharmacy’s only staff person. Regarding      Paul is from San                            Antonio, Texas and
                       her experience working in the parish        has been in El Sal-                         vador for two and
                       she says “I enjoy the people. In the face   a half years. He ap-                        preciates his
                        of often devastating poverty they have     involvement with                            CRISPAZ and the
                        incredible faith, joy, and a wonderful     opportunity to share                         experiences of
                        sense of community.” Originally from       working in El Salvador. Why does he choose to work in El
                      Michigan, Mary Frances has also found        Salvador? Paul says, “It is the best job I can find!”
companionship, fellowship and understanding through her
relationship with the CRISPAZ team.

US STAFF . . .                                                     JENNIFER COLLINS is the Office Manager of the U.S.
                                                                   office in San Antonio. She joined CRISPAZ in May 1999. In
                                                                   answer to the question of why she chooses
STAN DEVOOGD, who is in charge of CRISPAZ
                                                                   to do this work, she says, “I think it chose
Promotions and Development, has been working for the
                                                                   me! After seeing first hand the effects of US
organization for five years. He enjoys his work with CRISPAZ
                                                                   policy in Central America and Mexico,
and says, “I like the fact that we are a community of faith
                                                                   I knew that I wanted to work with organiza-
reaching out beyond ourselves to learn and serve . . . .
                                                                   tions with a social justice mission, a grass-
CRISPAZ helps me stay connected with people in many parts,
                                                                   roots approach, and a focus on Latin
                      working on what really counts in life and
                                                                   America. I want to take part, even in a small
                      that is promoting the abundant life as
                                                                   way, in something that forces people to stop and think, that
                      promised to all in the scriptures.” Origi-
                                                                   invokes alternatives, and that encourages people to become
                      nally from Canada, Stan also works for
                                                                   a part of something greater.” In addition to her work with
                      the Presbyterian Border Ministry. He
                                                                   CRISPAZ, Jennifer is involved with networking among similar
                      enjoys spending time with his wife and
                                                                   organizations working across borders and she enjoys reading,
                      three children and fixing up their house.
                                                                   writing, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

    communities in El Salvador. In building bridges of solidarity between communities in El Salvador and those in

    January–February, 2000 • Page 5
Wellsprings
                         Meeting the Victims, Falling in Love
by Dean Brackley, S.J.
     Waves of foreign delegations have come to El        They sense a gentle invitation to lay down the
Salvador during recent years. The pilgrims deplane       burden of their own superiority (of which they are
a little anxious, vaguely dreading what awaits them.     mostly unaware) and identify with these humble
They know that the people are very poor. They have       people, despite the differences between them. They
heard of massacres and bombings of the past and          begin to feel smaller and more “ordinary”. A sweet
the hunger and sickness of the present. They fear,       shame comes over them, not bitter remorse but more
half-consciously, that these poor people will lunge      like the shame one feels when falling in love. The
for their wallets, or that when they, the visitors,      visitors feel themselves losing their grip; or better,
arrive at their first poor community, they will suffer   they feel the world losing its grip on them. What
a massive Irish-Catholic—or Jewish or Methodist—         world? The world made up of important people like
guilt-attack and at the very least they will have to     them and unimportant poor people like their hosts.
sell their VCR when they get back home.                  As the poet Yeats says, “things fall apart”; the
                                                         visitors’ world is coming unhinged. They feel resis-
    As happens with most of our fears, it doesn’t        tance, naturally, to a current that threatens to
turn out that way. On the one hand, the visitors         sweep them out of control. They feel a little con-
spend much of their time in El Salvador wondering        fused—again—like the disorientation of falling in
why these poor people are smiling. The people are        love. In fact, that is what is happening, a kind of
glad they came and receive them with open arms.          falling in love. The earth trembles. My horizon is
On the other hand, if the pilgrims listen to the         opening up. I’m on unfamiliar ground, entering a
stories of flight from the army, torture and death       richer, more real world.
squads, and, since the war, of unspeakable hardship
and premature death, the victims will break their            We all live a bit on the periphery of the deep
hearts. And that, after all, is the main reason the      drama of life, more so, on average, in affluent
pilgrims have come. It is an experience of extraordi-    societies. The reality of the periphery is thin, one-
nary richness, if the visitors muster the courage to     dimensional, “lite,” compared to the multi-layered
take it in.                                              richness of this new world the visitors are entering.
                                                         In this interchange with a few of their representa-
    The encounter stops the visitors short and fo-       tives, the anonymous masses of the world’s poor
cuses their attention. “My God!” they cry, “half         emerge from their cardboard-cutout reality and
their children die from preventable disease. The         take on the three-dimensional status of full-fledged
powerful steal from them at will. There is no justice.   human beings.
And what has m y government been doing here in
my name?” The poor bring the visitors face-to-face           Actually, there are more than three dimensions
with evil; and the visitors respond with horror.         here. The eyes of the victim beckon. They are like
Not that the poor are all saints. (Hardship brings       a bottomless well in which something infinite draws
out both the best and the worst in people, the           me on. In their welcome, peace sweeps over me.
D’Aubuisson’s and the Romeros.) They just obvi-          I feel almost at home in this strange place. Al-
ously do not deserve what they have had to suffer.       though an accomplice to the world of important
The injustice clashes strikingly with their humanity.    people like me and unimportant people like them,
                                                         I feel accepted, forgiven—even before I have cleaned
    This presses in upon the visitors, and it can        up my act with them or billions like them.
shake them to their roots. As the poor draw deeper
into their own reality, the newcomers pass from              After reflecting on these issues for some years,
observers to participants. The more they allow the       it only gradually dawned on me that I belong to
poor to crash through their defenses, the more           a peculiar tribe. The middle-class cultures of the
unsettled they feel. They begin to see their own         North are newcomers to world history and have
reflection in the eyes of their hosts, and they say to   only existed for about 200 years. We’re not all bad
themselves, “Hey, these people are just like us!”        people; we’re just a tiny minority under the com-

                                                                                              Page 6 •   SALVANET
mon illusion that we are the center of gravity
of the universe. The poor can free us of this
strange idea.
     Don’t get me wrong. The middle-class
cultures have made extraordinary advances
in civilization. True; many came at great cost
to the despoiled nations and races. Still,
these are historic achievements. And I’m not
even talking about ambiguous technological
progress. I mean the spiritual, cultural and
political breakthroughs: the unheard-of
opportunities, political liberties, democracy,
the critical consciousness of the Enlighten-
ment, and all that. No need to demean these
gains. The problem for us is that the new
freedoms and economic security have Delegation participants play games with children in a rural community.
distanced the non-poor from the kind of daily
life-and-death struggle that has been the daily fare       It seems that the victim offers us the privileged
of the poor of all times right up to today. Maybe      place (although not the only place) to encounter the
90% of all the people who ever lived have struggled    truth which sets us free. The poor usher us into the
every day to keep the household alive against the      heart of reality. They bring us up against the world
threat of death through hunger, disease, accidents     and ourselves all at once. To some extent, we all
and violence. By distancing the non-poor from the      hold reality at arm’s length—fending off intolerable
daily threat of death, the benefits of modernity have  parts of the world with one hand and intolerable
induced in us a kind of chronic low-grade confusion parts of ourselves with the other. The two go to-
about what is really important in life, namely life    gether. As a rule, our encounters with the world
itself and love. Besides, superior technology and      place us in touch with internal reality, as well. In
the communications media induce us to think of         particular, when the world’s pain crashes in upon
our culture and perspective on life as the norm,       us in the person of the victim, the encounter dredges
and basically on track. The encounter with the         up from within us the parts of ourselves that we
poor stops us short; it recollects us. When we come    had banished. The outcast outside us calls forth
out on the other side, we realize that the margin-     the outcast within us. This is why people avoid the
alized are actually at the center of things. It is we, poor. But meeting them can heal us. We will only
in Washington and Paris, who are on the fringe.        heal our inner divisions if we are also working to
                                                       heal our social divisions.
     These people shake us up because they bring
home to us that things are much worse in the world         The victims of history—the destitute, abused
than we dared to imagine. But that is only one side    women, oppressed minorities, all those the Bible
of the story: If we allow them to share their suffer-  calls “the poor”—not only put us in touch with the
ing with us, they communicate some of their hope       world and with ourselves, but also with the mercy
to us as well. The smile that seems to have no         of God. There is something fathomless about the
foundation in the facts is not phony; the spirit of    encounter with the poor, as we have said—like the
fiesta is not an escape but a recognition that some-   opening of a chess game with its infinite possibilities.
thing else is going on in the world besides injustice  If we let them, the poor will place us before the
and destruction. The poor smile because they           abyss of the holy Mystery we call God. They are
suspect that this something is more powerful than      a kind of door that opens before that Mystery and
the injustice. When they insist on sharing their       through which God passes to get at us. Clearly
tortilla with a visiting gringo, we recognize there is we need them more than they need us.
something going on in the world that is more won-
                                                           Small wonder that people keep returning. Some-
derful than we dared to imagine.
                                                       thing has happened, a kind of falling in love, I think.

January–February, 2000 • Page 7
                                                                 from
           LETTER
              TO THE
                                                                      El Salvador
      CHURCHES                                                      We are persecuted but never abandoned;
                                                                          struck down, but never lef t to die.
                                                                                                  (2 Corinthians 4:7-8)


   × INFORMATION SERVICE OF THE PASTORAL CENTER, CENTRAL AMERICAN UNIVERSITY, SAN SALVADOR ×
                                          EDITED ENGLISH TRANSLATION
    Letter to the Churches is a bimonthly publication of the Archbishop Oscar Romero Pastoral Center, Central
American University (UCA), San Salvador. These are letters of flesh and spirit, written from one Salvadoran
community to another and from the Salvadoran Church to the Universal Church. The following are excerpts
from this publication.

                          The UCA Martyrs: Ten Years Later
    On November 16, 1999, the UCA commemorated the 10th anniversary of the martyrdom of the six Jesuit priests
and the two women. The “National Reality” section of Letter to the Churches offers the response to four questions
that continue to be on the minds of Salvadorans: What happened ten years ago? What is the country’s situation ten
years later? What is currently happening with the Jesuit case? and, How is Salvadoran society carrying on the
memory of the martyrs?
What happened ten years ago?                               entered the priests’ residence at the UCA and began
    Ten years have passed. And the people continue         to shoot them one by one. The two women were the
to ask: What happened that November 16? We tell the        wife and daughter of the university gardener. That
story as it is remembered by Spanish journalist            night, terrified by the offensive, they had asked to
Carmen Cortina.                                            stay with the priests. They died in an embrace. Jesuit
                                                           Rolando Alvarado, Ellacuría’s last assistant, said, “Be-
   On the morning of November 16, 1989, those of           fore traveling, Ellacuría phoned his community at the
us who were covering the war in El Salvador behaved        UCA. He wanted to know their opinion. He wanted
unprofessionally. We broke all rules, we were in           to share the risk with them.” And as I listen to him
denial, and we were insulting. Archbishop Monsignor        speak, I remember the eight bodies that were strewn
Arturo Rivera y Damas also had a lump in his throat.       across the back garden of the Jesuit residence, six of
Face to face with the bodies of six Jesuit priests and     them with their brains destroyed. And I remember
two women, he cried out, admonishing the act and           Ellacuría’s brown housecoat and his expressionless
making evident his great indignation. That day the         face. I remember Ignacio Martín-Baró, author of eleven
war took a great turn.                                     books. And Segundo Montes, father of those displaced
     Almost all of the political and union leaders had     by war, he himself displaced from life. I remember
left the country. The few that remained did not think      Amando López, witness to the Nicaraguan war and
twice about taking refuge in one of the embassies.         a victim of a different war (or perhaps the same war).
Ignacio Ellacuría was the only public figure who dared     Juan Ramón Moreno, lover of the art of ordering
to enter the country from Spain on November 13. His        books and creator of the most important theological
brother, José Antonio Ellacuría, remembers that there      library in Central America. I remember Joaquín López
was no convincing Ignacio not to return to El Salvador     y López, the only one who was born in El Salvador.
at that time. Ellacuría said that if President Cristiani   And Julia Elba and Celina Ramos, silenced witnesses.
called for his death, he would be the one that was             The death of Ignacio Ellacuría had been announced.
directly responsible.                                      In fact, this was true for almost all of the priests in
   Cristiani’s involvement in the massacre has never       El Salvador, especially the Jesuits who were the first
been clarified. However, it was proven that a group        religious congregation to experience the violence. In
from the Atlacatl Battalion Special Forces violently       February of 1977, Jesuit priest Rutilio Grande headed

                                                                                                 Page 8    •   SALVANET
the list. His assassination was          Armed Forces were not the only         worse? We affirm that their death
stained with political slogans in        group to receive a blow from the       was not in vain—it helped to put
favor of the peasant and student         assassination of the Jesuits. The      an end to the war and above all it
movements that had begun to              offensive and the crime shook the      was the seed of truth, compassion,
gather strength in those years.                                                            justice, and fraternity that
And in addition to these                                                                   grew into a small tree,
demonstrators there was          We affirm that their death was not in vain—               which continues to grow.
a different group, those             it helped to put an end to the war and                The vigil held on Novem-
who called for the Salva-           above all it was the seed of truth, com-               ber 15 was just one ex-
doran people to “be a              passion, justice, and fraternity that grew              pression of that. But we
patriot, kill a priest.”           into a small tree that continues to grow.               turn to the country’s
                                                                                           current situation to
     From the very beg-                                                                    recognize the importance
inning, Ellacuría was against the                                               of remembering November 16.
                                         strategists at the Pentagon. The
violence. For that reason he began
                                         military aid sent by the U.S. since
to look for an alternative. He never                                                 Many things have changed in El
                                         the beginning of the war had not
believed in the war. He condemned                                               Salvador, but it is evident that the
                                         served to break the FMLN, but
the injustice, but he always believed                                           historic, radical proposals for social
                                         rather to arm an army that did not
that the war demanded too much                                                  change continue to be subordinate
                                         follow the rules of the game. Ten
from the country. He did not tire                                               to the tragedy of poverty and
                                         years later, the U.S. agreed with
from proposing alternatives and                                                 barbaric violence. On a political
                                         Ellacuría by deciding that negotia-
making his opposition to the vio-                                               level, the conversion of the armed
                                         tion was the only way out of this
lence public. The FMLN did not                                                  left to a formal democracy has also
                                         decade of horror.
look poorly upon Ellacuría despite                                              meant the acceptance of neoliberal-
the fact that they were fighting for          In asking the question as to      ism in its most perverse manifesta-
a military victory. The last time        whether or not the crime was an        tions. The left has become nothing
that I saw him we were both on a         error, there is no consensus. But      more than a passive actor in a
flight from San Salvador to Managua.     everyone recognizes that the           socio-economic order controlled
It was September 1989. Later I           massacre had been announced.           by those with economic power.
learned that he went to speak with       “Ellacuría is a guerilla, cut his head The right, no longer facing any real
(FMLN military leader) Joaquín           off.” “We should get him out here      resistance, has dedicated itself to
Villalobos. Ellacuría voiced his op-     and kill him.” These and other         doing what it most enjoys: amass-
position to the military offensive.      threats were heard on the chain        ing large fortunes, taking advan-
But despite his request, the FMLN        of radio stations, broadcast by the    tage of all of opportunities within
went ahead with the offensive.           government just a few hours before their reach. Even worse, some of
Beforehand, Ellacuría was asked to       the offensive began. Ellacuría was     their members—who were respon-
please leave the country. Of course still in Spain where he was being           sible for or accomplices to assassi-
he did leave, but then he returned.      given an award and $5,000, money       nations, disappearances, and
And he was assassinated. “El             that was stolen by the military        tortures in the past two decades—
Salvador suffered a great loss with      officers who assassinated him. The     now have the gall to champion
his death,” says Rolando Alvarado,       voice of Salvadoran Vice President     democracy. With the help of a
although he recognizes that the          Francisco Merino accused Ellacuría     corrupt judicial system, they have
deaths also helped to speed up           of having poisoned the minds of        wiped clean the slate of the past
the peace process.                       all of the students of the UCA. I      and opened a new account, as if
                                         am told that the person who was        their crimes had never caused
     A few days after the crime, a                                              damages that must be repaired.
                                         in charge of the chain of radio
general from the Salvadoran army                                                It is only through such reparation
                                         stations at that time, Mauricio
told Father Francisco Estrada, who                                              that Salvadoran society can regain
                                         Sandoval, is currently the chief
replaced Ellacuría at the UCA, that                                             its dignity.
                                         of the National Civilian Police.
the death of the Jesuits would
cause more damage to the Armed                                                       After the signing of the Peace
Forces than all of the war together.                                            Accords, the institutional terror
“So, why were they killed?” asked        What is the country’s                  and death mechanisms have
Estrada. “In El Salvador, all of         situation ten years later?             changed, though not radically
those who interfere are killed.                                                 enough to assure that they will
                                              Many now ask if the Jesuits
The consequences are measured                                                   never again be reactivated. Institu-
                                         died in vain. What is the country
later,” he responded. But the                                                   tional spaces that do not operate
                                         like now? Are things better or
                                                                                with complete legality or under the
January–February, 1999 • Page 9
  LETTER             control of Salvadoran society continue   really been closed. With this question, they ask if at
    TO THE
 C HURCHES to exist. The framework of the                     any time there will in fact be justice for the thousands
                 democratic institutions—from the political   of cases of torture, assassination, disappearance, and
parties to the justice system—is very weak. This allows       massacre.
for illegality to infiltrate state institutions.
                                                                  The Human Rights Commission of the Organiza-
    Individuals and groups that once existed to exter-        tion of American States (OAS), the UCA, and the
minate others (those they determined to be subversive         Jesuits do not want to close the case. More than two
and communist) have a decisive presence not only in           years ago, the Jesuit case was presented before the
the public arena, but also in dark circles that are the       Interamerican Human Rights Commission of the OAS.
legacy of the recent past. All the while, they recite         “The process is now in a confidential stage in which
their credo of democracy. They are political analysts,        the Commission has asked for determined items from
commentators, directors of radio and television               the Salvadoran government,” affirmed the director of
programs, and business people. But when we look               the Human Rights Institute of the UCA (IDHUCA).
more carefully at their activities, they are not as clean     He hopes to receive the Commission’s opinion by
and honest as they appear to be, just as in the past.         February, though he is skeptical of the outcome. The
They long for the time in which absolute impunity             director has denounced the Salvadoran judicial system
ruled and they would like to return to the past. They         for being controlled by small, powerful groups.
think that they are exempt from the law: they chal-
                                                                  These are the steps that have been taken to un-
lenge the judges, hide information, and defame their
                                                              cover the case of the Jesuits. What can be done in the
adversaries. All in all, they are a threat to the institu-
                                                              future with these and other cases? The only thing to
tion of democracy.
                                                              be done is to contest the 1993 General Amnesty Law.
    There are also those that say we no longer need to        The Pinochet case has reopened the themes of “justice”
bring up the past and that if we keep touching the old        and “legislation.” Legislation must be revisited if
wounds, they will never heal. On the surface, perhaps         justice is to prevail. We will see what can be done.
this is true. Nevertheless, history continues to config-
                                                                   Revocation of the amnesty. The decree of amnesty
ure present reality both at a structural and symbolic
                                                              has been an attempt to forgive and forget, turning its
level. Many of the institutional perversions of today—
                                                              back on the Salvadoran people. The case of the Jesuits
for example, those that have the National Civilian
                                                              is a crime whose authors—both the material authors
Police trapped—are closely related to perversions
                                                              who went to court as well as the intellectual authors
of the past. Many of the criminal practices of today—
                                                              who escaped justice—reap the benefits of “forgive and
kidnapping rings, narco-traffickers, extortionists—are
                                                              forget.” Amnesty violated the law by returning these
not that far from the practices that proliferated among
                                                              individuals to the service of the State just after they
the military, political, and business sectors in recent
                                                              committed the crimes (Art. 244). And it violated inter-
history. Many of the values of the current national
                                                              national law because amnesty had been granted for
culture—egotism, power, and domination—were
                                                              crimes that must be prosecuted and sanctioned and
incubated during the long reign of military
                                                              whose processing and penalty cannot be subject to con-
authoritarianism.
                                                              ditions. This is the case for crimes of war and treason.
     In order to remember the Jesuits of the UCA and
                                                                  Amnesty is nothing more than a claim to power in
all of those assassinated for their commitment to justice,
                                                              a State of Law, but this is no conciliation. An attempt
it is necessary to critically analyze current reality.
                                                              to reestablish the seriously violated law, taking into
                                                              account the existing amnesty, means that we must
                                                              obey the following ideas, which are derived from
What is currently happening with the                          national and international law:
Jesuit case?
                                                              1. The Constitutional Court of the Supreme Court must
    There was a trial and a court of anonymous con-              declare the amnesty to be unconstitutional (Art. 183).
science declared the seven material authors who
confessed to the massacre innocent. Colonel Alfredo           2. When faced with a concrete case, Salvadoran judges
Benavides and his assistant Yusshy René Mendoza                  must declare the Amnesty Law inapplicable (Art.
were the only two who were convicted. On April 1,                185).
1993, both left the jail where they were being held.          3. When faced with a concrete case in which there is
General amnesty—which was qualified by then Jesuit               a conflict between international human rights rules
Provincial José María Tojeira as an offense to justice—          and treaties and the amnesty law, Salvadoran judges
offered freedom to both. These are the facts, but                must favor the first.
many continue to ask if the case of the Jesuits has
                                                                                                   Page 10 •    SALVANET
4. The Interamerican Human Rights Commission,               fact that those who made such claims came from a very
   whose supra-national nature means that its decisions     specific sector of Salvadoran society: the Armed Forces,
   must be followed by El Salvador (as a signatory of       who planned and executed the assassination, and the
   the San Jose Pact) must declare amnesty to be a          upper class, who endorsed and justified the crime.
   violation of the Pact and order its repeal in order to
   reestablish respect for human rights in El Salvador.         Their tendency is also revealed by the fact that this
                                                            statement was included in a report supposedly written
  The possibility also exists that the Interamerican        about the offensive. The aim? To associate the Jesuit
  Justice Court, which forms part of the system of          assassination with the FMLN, the same thing that was
  international American human rights protection,           done by the material and intellectual authors of the
  would intervene if the Commission were to present         crime. This makes the assassination justifiable. In the
  the case or if the case is brought forth by the State     end, it is concluded that Ellacuría and his team (just
  of El Salvador.                                           like Monsignor Romero) “got involved with politics.”
5. Any State that maintains a solid democratic institu-          But this was not the only perspective that was
   tion must apply the principal of universality in         offered. Also found in the Diario de Hoy was a column
   prosecuting crimes of treason. The State must force      written by Salvador Samayoa on November 11, which
   the intellectual authors to submit to judgement and,     praised the martyrs and spoke of them affectionately.
   in the application of international rules, they must     “I loved them all very much and their death hurt me
   leave the Salvadoran Amnesty Law to the side.            at the depth of my soul . . . . As a Salvadoran I was
                                                            hurt by the loss of people of such good heart, talent,
                                                            and generosity, people who will undoubtedly be
How is Salvadoran society carrying on the                   missed in the building of a better country and a more
memory of the martyrs?                                      humane society.” To Ellacuría, he dedicated the follow-
                                                            ing words: “Ignacio was an extraordinary man . . . he
    It depends of course. The Christian communities         used complete independence in his criteria . . . he was
remember Monsignor Romero, the martyrs of the UCA           a free spirit. His intelligence was superior.”
and their own martyrs with enthusiasm and commit-
ment. This calls to mind the vigil. The powerful, the           On November 14, the Prensa Gráfica newspaper
armed forces, the oligarchy, the banks, the government,     published a report entitled “One Such Ignacio” in
the legislative assembly, and many political parties        which Ellacuría’s former students shared their memo-
have, for ten years, ignored the martyrs and wish that      ries. The coverage offered by the CoLatino newspaper
they would remain dead forever. But by doing this,          was openly sympathetic with the commemoration and
they impoverish themselves and the country.                 the coverage offered by El Mundo was scarce but
                                                            neutral. In the audiovisual realm, Channels 12 and 33
     With regards to the media, the situation varies.       supplied good coverage of the commemoration.
First we will mention what today is an aberrant
example, but which was common practice in years                  The balance is important. The UCA martyrs are
past. On November 11, the newspaper El Diario de            present in the media, though not as much as is needed.
H o y published a special piece about the 1989 guerilla     The powers that be are against them, but their truth
offensive. The subtitle of the article read “The Assas-     shows the way. Now we must take the most impor-
sination of the Jesuits.” It had no relationship to the     tant step: we must thank the martyrs for their contri-
theme that was been developed and yet it was printed        bution to Salvadoran society and take up the reigns by
in bigger and bolder print. It read, “Ignacio Ellacuría,    adopting the great values and institutions that they
considered the ideologue of the left, and five other        left behind.
Jesuits were killed on November 16, 1989 on the                 The poor once again offer their response to the
campus of the UCA, which was considered to be one           silence of the powerful and to the malevolence of the
of the ‘FMLN sanctuaries’ during the armed aggression.”     Diario de Hoy. Their answer was found in the thou-
    The tendency that is revealed in this statement         sands that walked with candlelight in hand to an-
is obvious. It speaks of the “ideologue of the left”        nounce where it is that they continue to find light
without mentioning that Ellacuría and the UCA were          ten years later.
also critics of the FMLN. And it does not mention the


Yearly subscriptions to Carta A Las Iglesias, a bimonthly publication in Spanish, can be obtained for $35 by
               writing to: Centro de Distribución UCA, Apartado Postal (01) 575, San Salvador,
         El Salvador, Centro America. Make checks payable to: Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas
January–February, 1999 • Page 11
     Clo
     the se SCHOOL OF November Protest
   SOA
       ! THE AMERICAS at Ft. Benning                            By and About the UCA Martyrs
          UPDATE                           Calling for the
                                      shut down of the U.S.     Jon Sobrino, Ignacio Ellacuría, et. al. Companions of Jesus: The
        Army School of the Americas, 4,408 human                Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador. Orbis, 1990. Essays by and about the
        rights activists risked arrest Sunday, November         UCA martyrs.
        21 by crossing the line onto the Ft. Benning (GA)
                                                                Instituto de Estudios Centroamericanos and El Rescate. The Jesuit
        military base in protest of the School’s long associ-
                                                                Assassinations: The Writings of Ellacuría, Martín-Baró and Segundo
        ation with human rights atrocities and massa-
                                                                Montes, with a Chronology of the Investigation. Sheed & Ward, 1990.
        cres throughout Latin America. The demonstra-
tion honored the six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and      Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín-Baró and Segundo Montes. Toward
her daughter on the 10th anniversary of their murder in         a Society That Serves Its People: The Intellectual Contribution of El
El Salvador at the hands of SOA graduates.                      Salvador’s Murdered Jesuits. John Hassett and Hugh Lacey, eds.
                                                                Washington: Georgetown University Press, 1991. Essays by Ellacuría,
    The line crossing was led by a solemn procession of
                                                                Martín-Baró and Montes with thorough bibliography.
protesters in black mourning shrouds and white “death
masks” who carried full-sized coffins and white, child-         Ignacio Ellacuría. Freedom Made Flesh: The Mission of Christ and
sized coffins to symbolize the thousands of men, women,         His Church. Orbis, 1976.
and children killed and “disappeared” by graduates of
the military training school. As the names of the victims       Ignacio Martín-Baró. Writings for a Liberation Psychology. Adrianne
of SOA violence were called aloud, actor Martin Sheen           Aron and Shawn Corne, eds. Cambridge and London: Harvard
and long-time peace activist and Catholic priest Daniel         University Press, 1994.
Berrigan led a wave of protesters across the line drawn         Juan Ramón Moreno. Gospel and Mission: Spirituality and the Poor.
on the pavement marking the entrance to the army post.          Manila: Cardinal Bea Institute, Ateneo de Manila
                                                                University, 1995.
            FAST 2000 to Close the SOA                          Kevin F. Burke.
             In Washington, DC:                                 The Ground
   5Kick Off Rally – Sunday, April 2, 20005
                                          5                     Beneath the
                                                                Cross: The
    5Lobby Day - Monday, April 3, 20005 5
                                                                Theology of Ignacio
         At 2,000 Locations Nationwide:                         Ellacuría. Washington,
  5 Juice-Only Fast ~ April 6 - April 19, 20005
                                              5                 D.C.: Georgetown
       Organizing packet with country fact sheets               University Press,
            are available from SOA Watch.                       forthcoming, 2000.


                 For More Information                            For a complete bibliography of English resources on the
   School of the Americas Watch, P.O. Box 4566,                  UCA Martyrs, Archbishop Romero, the four churchwomen,
  Washington, D.C., 20017-0566, (202) 234-3440                  and the church of the poor in Central America, plese contact
  soawatch@knight-hub.com, http://www.soaw.org/                        CRISPAZ El Salvador: pazsal@netcomsa.com.




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