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U.S. charges Salvadoran soldiers with human rights offenses in murder of Jesuit priests


Universidad de Deusto-(CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Zelda Caldwell - published on 01/30/20

The 13 former members of the Salvadoran army will be barred from entering the United States.

The United States Department of State on Wednesday designated 13 former members of the Salvadoran military as violators of human rights related to their involvement in the killings of six Jesuit priests and two others during the Central American country’s civil war over 30 years ago.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement naming the individuals involved in the murders, which took place on November 16, 1989. The El Salvadoran Civil War resulted in the deaths of 75,000 civilians, between the years of 1980 to 1992.

“The United States condemns all human rights abuses that took place on both sides of the brutal civil war in El Salvador, including those committed by governmental and non-governmental parties,” read the statement.

“These 13 former Salvadoran military personnel, ranging in rank from general to private, were involved in the planning and execution of the extrajudicial killings of six Jesuit priests and two others taking refuge at the Jesuit pastoral center on November 16, 1989 on the campus of Central American University in El Salvador,” it continued.

The six Jesuit priests who were murdered were rousted from their beds by a unit of the Salvadoran Army and shot along with the priests’ housekeeper and her daughter.

According to a report by the Catholic News Agency, the priests advocated peace talks between the country’s right-wing military regime and the National Liberation Front, a left-wing revolutionary group.

Catholic News Agency lists the names of the priests killed as Ignacio Ellacuría, rector of UCA; Ignacio Martín-Baró; Segundo Montes; Amando López; Joaquín López y López; and Juan Ramón Moreno Pardo. All were from Spain, except López y López who was from El Salvador.

The public condemnation in the United States following the murders resulted in the withdrawal of U.S. military aid to the Salvadoran government.

In recent years, according to Human Rights Watch, the government of El Salvador, has taken steps to prosecute former military and government officials those who committed human rights abuses during the country’s civil war.

Most recently, in October of 2019, a judge ordered the arrest of Cpt. Alvaro Saravia, for his involvement in the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero as he celebrated Mass in a hospital chapel in March of 1980.

Dom Oscar Romero assassinato

Read more:
Salvadoran judge orders arrest of Archbishop Romero’s killer

In his statement, Pompeo alluded to the need for continued accountability.

“The United States supports the ongoing accountability, reconciliation, and peace efforts in El Salvador,”said Pompeo. “We value our ongoing working relationship with the Salvadoran Armed Forces, but will continue to use all available tools and authorities, as appropriate, to address human rights violations and abuses around the world no matter when they occurred or who perpetrated them.”

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