A Publication of Christians for Peace in El Salvador, CRISPAZ
January / February
In this issue . . .
• 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
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
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
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.
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,
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
email: email@example.com 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
simply. It appears that the whole still hope.) Happy New Year.
Page 2 • SALVANET
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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:
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
the se SCHOOL OF November Protest
! 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
FAST 2000 to Close the SOA Kevin F. Burke.
In Washington, DC: The Ground
5Kick Off Rally – Sunday, April 2, 20005
5 Beneath 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
firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.soaw.org/ CRISPAZ El Salvador: email@example.com.
CRISPAZ Non-Profit Org.
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Address service requested.