El Mozote Has Challenged Impunity in El Salvador

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On the 37th anniversary of the massacre of El Mozote and the surrounding area the perpetrators are still being protected by their political and economic power, but the the struggle for justice by the survivors advances firmly forward for the first time.

This crime against humanity was part of a series of massacres executed under a scorched-earth policy, or a systematic practice of killing civilians as a State terrorism mechanism against insurgents that involved the Armed Forces and their highest-ranking officers in a counter-insurgency strategy: to generate terror and human extermination in rural areas.

After the Amnesty Law was declared unconstitutional, the court admitted the case put forth by the victims, formalized the accusations against 18 former military leaders, and allowed many of the investigations requested by the victims to move forward.

For the first time, the victims have been heard before a court that has respected due process for everyone involved, and they reaffirmed their testimony before the line of questioning of the defendants.

Several years of work, characterized by the courage of the survivors and the work of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team and Salvadoran forensic scientists, has plainly shown the magnitude of the massacre: one thousand victims killed, more than half of them children and adolescents, various sexual assaults, and the complete destruction of private property and the communities targeted, among other atrocities. This was a war crime and a crime against humanity focused on the extermination of a non-combatant, civilian population.

On the 37th anniversary of the massacre, Cristosal commemorates the hundreds of victims from Arambala, El Pinalito, El Mozote, La Joya, Cerro Ortiz, Ranchería, Los Toriles, Jocote Amarillo, and Cerro Pando, who were cruelly killed between the 8th and 13th of December, 1981 in northern Morazán.

Cristosal recognizes the historic struggle of the survivors and their relatives, organizations in northern Morazán, and Tutela Legal “María Julia Hernández,” in search of truth, justice, and reparations for the victims. We pay homage to Dr. María Julia Hernández, the Director of Tutela Legal until her death, and Rufina Amaya, a survivor of El Mozote who fought for truth even in the face of threats from people in power who denied the massacre.

Guillermo García, Minister of Defense, Rafael Flores Lima, chief of the Armed Forces, and the officers of the Atlacatl Battalion in 1981, are on trial for their presumed role directing the massacre of El Mozote and the surrounding area, and many other atrocities during the Salvadoran armed conflict that they coordinated as part of the group of leaders that carried out State terrorism.

Cristosal, in its accompaniment of this case, demands justice and the investigation of the crime, that the Legislative Assembly abstain from passing new laws to encourage impunity, and exhorts the new Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court to defend the jurisprudential advances made with respect to human rights. We reject the Armed Forces of El Salvador’s refusal to hand over military documents related to Operación Rescate (Operation Rescue in English),  the military operative that resulted in the massacre.

El Mozote is a challenge to justice today; a State cannot be democratic or just when it covers up and justifies the murder of thousands of civilians, the majority of them children, or is silent when confronted with atrocities against women.

¡El Mozote Nunca Más!

El Mozote Never Again!

San Salvador, December 11, 2018


Paulina P