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EL SALVADOR
Two decades after slayings, some truth revealed
12/10/2009
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CIA documents reveal 1989 massacre of Jesuit priests was premeditated.

On Nov. 16, 1989, members of the Atlacatl squadron, an elite army unit that operated as a death squad, entered San Salvador´s Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas and gunned down six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. Right-wing governments of the Nationalist Republican Alliance party that ruled El Salvador since its 1980-92 civil war protected the perpetrators with a 1993 amnesty law.

The priests had opposed the war, and were ardent defenders of El Salvador´s poor.

But 20 years later, recently declassified documents from the US Central Intelligence Agency reveal that the murder of the Spanish priests — Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín Baró, Segundo Montes, Armando López, Juan Ramón Moreno, and Salvadoran priest Joaquín López, Julia Elba Ramos and her daugher Celina — was premeditated.

Terry Karl, of Stanford University, gave Spanish Judge Eloy Velasco 12,000 declassified CIA documents showing the murders had been planned for three days before the crime was committed. A Spanish court had allowed the country´s Human Rights Association and Center for Justice and Responsibility to file a suit against 14 Salvadoran soldiers for the crime.

The material showed that the order was given by retired Gen. René Emilio Ponce, to leave no witnesses. Ponce has denied any involvement in the massacre.

In a 1991 trial, Col. Guillermo Benavides and Lt. Yussy Mendoza were charged for the murders but freed two years later under the amnesty law.

Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, of the former guerrilla group, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, who was elected as the country´s first left-leaning leader earlier this year, held a special ceremony marking the anniversary of the killings and bestowed the priests with the country´s highest honor: the National Order of José Matías Delgado.

The United States, which openly supported brutal right-wing governments throughout Latin America in the 1970s and 80s, withdrew its support for El Salvador´s right-wing government following the 1989 killings.
—Latinamerica Press.


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