Letter to the Deputies of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador

We, the survivors and family members of the victims killed in the massacre of El Mozote and the surrounding area in the Department of Morazán, respectfully address you after learning that you are considering a new absolute amnesty law, which would once again close the door to justice and truth for our communities.

We would like to remind you that we suffered the worst kind of crime. In December 1981, the troops of the Atlacatl Battalion invaded our communities of El Mozote, Pinalito, Arambla, Ranchería, La Joya, Los Toriles, Jocote Amarillo, Cerro Pando, and the surrounding areas. Without any justification, they entered our homes, killed our families, burned our homes, destroyed our crops, and even killed our livestock. The community of Cerro Ortiz also experienced this massacre.  

Our family members were unarmed, noncombatant civilians. We were scared of the war, we were hardworking families, and that is why we remained in our communities. We never thought that we would be the victims of such a grave injustice: a massacre without cause, the destruction of our families, and having our family members taken from us. The Army killed almost 1,000 people, the majority of them children.

Today, the truth is known and is being proven in trial. In 1992, in what remained of a cabin called “the convent” in El Mozote, the remains of 136 children were found; they had an average age of six years, although some were babies just a few months old. They were killed by 24 men, using M-16 rifles. We have provided a lot of testimony on this event, and now no one can deny the truth.

We are peaceful communities. When the war ended, we repopulated our communities of origin. We have actively participated in democratic processes and the reconstruction of this country; we respect the law. We have never sought revenge, only truth and justice. We lament that, nevertheless, for a long time the State ignored us and denied us our rights. This began to change with the 2012 ruling from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Slowly, our communities have received some reparations since then.

Another glimmer of hope came when the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court overturned an amnesty law that, since 1993, had denied us our right to justice. The case was reopened, and we have once again provided our testimony and cooperated with the authorities.

Recently, we discovered that some deputies have once again proposed an absolute amnesty law. This is disappointing and makes us indignant that, once again, people are trying to deny our right to justice after so many years. We only ask for a fair trial. We have always been willing to open a dialogue and even forgive. The possibility of granting forgiveness is a right that belongs to each victim, from the depths of their sorrow. Each victim has the right to express forgiveness or not. Forgiveness cannot be granted by a State decree, but instead comes after the truth has been revealed and justice has been had; forgiveness comes after the people who have committed such a terrible crime express remorse.

We ask God to show you the path to justice, and to lead you away from the path of forgetfulness and injustice, which only increases the suffering that we have endured for so many years with no response from the State.

We will continue being people of peace. We do not hate. On the contrary, we respect others, even the people who did this to us. We only want truth and justice.

We hope that, in compliance with the Constitution, international human rights, and true justice, you do not promote a new absolute amnesty law. We hope that you do not violate our human rights, which have been violated since 1981.

Attentively signed in representation of our communities,

Morazán, February 27, 2019

Original letter with signatures below:

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