Civil War • Wealth concentrated in the hands of the few • Poor demanded reforms • Encountered violent opposition as the rich controlled the military.
Archbishop Oscar Romero • Was thought to be neutral • Takes side of the poor • Turns to Liberation Theology
Liberation Theology • Movement within the Roman Catholic Church that focuses on social change • Delivering the poor from oppression • Demanded that Central American governments reformed their political, economic and social systems to give land to the poor and democracy to the people • Liberation Theology priests were murdered
Romero assassination • Killed in 1980 • The government was behind his killing. There is a copy of a telegram from the US Ambassador to El Salvador describing the meeting and that officers of the Salvadoran army drew straws for the right to kill him • The planners all got training in the USA at Ft. Benning GA.
Death Squads • Often were members of the National Guard • Off-duty military members • Allowed the government to not be directly linked to atrocities • Would “disappear” suspected rebels. This was a term for torture and murder. Similar to the Nazis using the term “Final Solution” for the Holocaust • Many death squad members got their training at the School of the Americas in GA. • Leader was Roberto D'Aubuisson, who also founded the ARENA party. • His nickname was the blowtorch.
Repression • Those calling for reforms are targeted. • This included communists, union leaders, human rights workers, democracy supporters and anyone else not supporting the corrupt government of El Salvador • Forced to go underground • Armed (Socialist/Communist) wing of the opposition party begin to fight back • This was used to justify more repression
U.S. • Had supported Salvadoran Government • 1980 rape and murder of four American nuns • U.S. suspends aid to El Salvador
Murder of nuns • Raped and murdered by elements from within the Salvadoran military • All were working to give education and health car to the landless poor of El Salvador. • They were buried in a shallow grave in the jungle
Election of Ronald Reagan • Sees the guerillas in El Salvador as having links to communist regimes • Increases military and economic aid • Ignores human rights abuses and feels that stopping “communism” was more important to the USA • The US government covers up the atrocities in El Salvador or blames them all on the revelotionaries
El Mozote • Elite members of the E.S. army look for rebels in the village of El Mozote • The end up murdering 900 peasents • One survivor Rufina Amaya lives to tell the press about the event.
Village "it appears to be an incident that is at least being significantly misused, at the very best, by the guerrillas.” Elliot Abrams, US State Dept
1992 Peace Accords • Sponsored by the United Nations • Communist Guerillas surrender their weapons • 102 officers are dismissed from the Salvadorian military
Legacy • Today the nation is a democracy and US ally • Conservative party, ARENA dominates the presidency until this year when an FMLN candidate won the presidency • MS-13 is the nation’s biggest problem. Formed in USA by former civil war fighters. US deported many of its founders to E.S. • They return and spread crime in Central America • Poverty is still an issue and El Salvadorans working in the USA send money back to help their families. This accounts for about 20% of the nation’s income.