Salvadorean right-wing murderer of Dutch journalists found

Crosses commemorating murdered Dutch journalists

This 1982 ANP photo shows crosses commemorating four Dutch journalists, murdered in El Salvador, and 40,000 Salvadoreans killed by CIA-supported death squads. The photo was taken in front of the United States consulate in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Brain behind murder of IKON journalists tracked down

The editors of the Zembla television program have tracked down the colonel who in El Salvador in 1982 ordered to murder four Dutch journalists of the IKON [Christian broadcasting organisation]. The now 79-year-old Mario Reyes Mena lives in the United States and can still be prosecuted.

In El Salvador, a bloody civil war raged between 1980 and 1992 between a US-backed right-wing government and left-wing guerrilla groups. In March 1982, a team from the TV program Kenmerk [Feature] was there for a report. When the journalists tried to enter guerrilla territory, they were met by soldiers of the government army and shot dead.

A United Nations truth commission concluded in 1993 that Reyes Mena was responsible for the murder and ambush in which Koos Koster, Jan Kuiper, Joop Willemsen and Hans ter Laag had been lured. That same year, an amnesty law was passed in El Salvador, which meant he could not be prosecuted in that country. Reyes Mena has not lived in El Salvador for years.

‘Communist plot’

Zembla found him, but Reyes Mena did not want to let the reportage makers in. “The case has already been investigated, I have never been charged, you are part of a communist plot to take revenge”, he said in the short interview that can be seen in tonight’s broadcast (NPO 2, 8.55 pm).

Zembla also spoke with a former United States military adviser in El Salvador, Bruce Hazelwood. Secret documents are said to show that Reyes Mena told Hazelwood in advance that he would have the journalists murdered.

An e-mail exchange between Hazelwood and a fellow veteran confirms that, according to Zembla. Hazelwood writes about the day of the murder that Reyes Mena has followed his recommendation not to let the bodies disappear, other than earlier advice: “That evening my conversations with Mena were very frank and he followed my recommendations very differently from his previous actions.”


The Salvadoran amnesty law that offered protection to Reyes Mena was canceled in 2016. This means that prosecution of perpetrators of crimes during the civil war has become possible.

Gert Kuiper, the brother of the murdered Jan Kuiper, filed a complaint against the colonel in El Salvador at the beginning of this year. The Dutch ambassador in El Salvador supports this declaration. What has happened with it is not known.

See also here.

Pope Francis’ deserving and undeserving new saints

Romero commemorated in El Salvador

This 2016 photo shoes thousands of people in El Salvador in an annual procession, commemorating the murder of Archbishop Romero in 1980. The sign says: His murderers have not been on trial yet. Monsignor Romero is a saint of the people. Not of the prayer card.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Oscar Romero, the archbishop of El Salvador who was murdered in 1980, will be declared a saint. This has been announced by Pope Francis during a meeting of cardinals in Rome.

Romero is an icon for many Roman Catholics in Latin America. He committed himself to the poor and antagonized the Salvadoran elite and the army by denouncing repression, torture and social inequality.

Death squad

El Salvador was a right-wing dictatorship in those years and suffered a bloody civil war, which claimed many tens of thousands of lives. Countless priests who supported Romero in his struggle for human rights and his critique of the regime were murdered.

On March 24, 1980, Romero celebrated a mass in a hospital chapel when he was shot dead by a member of an extreme right death squad. In 2015 he was beatified during a ceremony in the capital San Salvador, attended by hundreds of thousands of people, including foreign heads of state. When he will be declared to be a saint is not yet known.

Paul VI

At the same time, the Vatican announced today that the former Pope Paul VI will be declared to be a saint later this year. The Italian was pope from 1963 until his death in 1978. He put an end to reforms within the church and confirmed the ecclesiastical prohibition of abortion and the use of contraceptives.

Salvadorean murderers of Spanish priests arrested

This 1995 Associated Press video says about itself:

Salvadorans are commemorating the sixth anniversary of a massacre of Jesuit priests by members of the military.

The priests- who taught at the Central American University in the capital San Salvador-were accused by rightists of being communists and even members of the guerrillas.

At the anniversary ceremonies Salvadorans called for peace and an end to violence in their country.

A rose garden at the Central American University in San Salvador stands as a remembrance of those who were martyred in the fight for justice for the poor people of El Salvador.

Salvadorans marked Thursday the sixth anniversary of a massacre in which six Jesuit priests were killed by members of the military.

Their bodies were buried at the Monsignor Romero Temple in the university campus.

Romero was also a victim of El Salvador‘s 12-year bloody civil war, murdered in his own cathedral by right-wing killers.

Six years later Jesuit priests are calling for an end to violence and injustice.

SOUNDBITE: (In Spanish)

“The legacy they’ve left is that we shouldn’t rest as long as there’s injustice, as long as there are lies and as long as there’s poverty. We should do our best to try to combat these evils that are still affecting terribly El Salvador.”
SUPER CAPTION: Rodolfo Cardenal, Jesuit priest and Vice-rector of the Central American University- UCA

On November 16 1989, left-wing guerrillas launched a nationwide offensive against the government.

The Jesuit priests were killed in the middle of a counter-attack by members of the military.

Six Jesuit priests living on the university campus were killed along with a cook and her daughter.

The military blamed the attack on the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front– known as the F-M-L-N- which launched the offensive against the government.

But investigators later discovered the massacre was perpetrated by the army.

The “Hall of Martyrs” at the Central American University has been opened as a remembrance of the victims of the massacre.

It was erected on the area where the bodies were found after the attack.

The hall holds pictures of the massacre and clothes worn by the six priests on that tragic day.

Throughout the civil war, Jesuit priests became a target for their “theology of liberation” philosophy which advocated social justice and fair distribution of wealth among the poor.

The priests were accused of being communists and even allies of the guerrillas.

Hundreds of Salvadorans took to the main campus of the university- known as the U-C-A- for a religious ceremony to commemorate the death of the priests.

They marched with candles and held signs calling for justice and an end of violence in their country.

Many believe that in spite of recent progress the country still needs to find the road for peace.

SOUNDBITE: (In Spanish)

“The fight continues, we have to pick up the banner of those good and noble men and we have to continue opening the path for peace and reconciliation, but always based on justice.”
SUPER CAPTION: Rogelio Poncel, Catholic priest

SOUNDBITE: (In Spanish)

“There have been certain improvements, not exactly what we expected, but I think certain political spaces have been opened, but there are still many tasks to do.”
SUPER CAPTION: Jon Cortina, Spanish Jesuit priest

And six years after the massacre Salvadorans hope the legacy of the tragedy will be a catalyst for much needed peace in this Central American nation.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Four ex-soldiers detained over 1989 priest killings

Monday 8th February 2015

FOUR former soldiers wanted in Spain for the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter have been arrested in El Salvador, police said yesterday.

Five of the priests were Spanish and their killings during El Salvador’s civil war sparked international outrage.

Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren urged military officers still fugitive in the case to turn themselves in to authorities.

“There are people who have hidden. We don’t know if they have left the country, but my recommendation is that they turn themselves in to justice,” he said.

“We need to know the truth about what happened in the past, but we also need justice as well as pardon.”

It is now up to the Salvadoran Supreme Court to rule on extradition to Spain.

The arrests in El Salvador followed a judgement in North Carolina, US, that cleared the way for a former Salvadoran colonel to be extradited to face charges in Spain in the case.

Archbishop Romero is a martyr, pope says

This video says about itself:

Assassination of bishop Romero – clip from Salvador.

From Associated Press:

Pope Approves Martyrdom Declaration for Oscar Romero, Slain Salvadoran Archbishop

FEB. 3, 2015, 10:06 A.M. E.S.T.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis decreed Tuesday that slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was killed in 1980 out of hatred for his Catholic faith, approving a martyrdom declaration that sets the stage for his beatification.

Francis, the first Latin American pope, approved the decree honoring one of the heroes of Latin American Christians at a meeting with the head of the Vatican‘s saint-making office.

Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was gunned down by right-wing death squads March 24, 1980 while celebrating Mass. A human rights campaigner, Romero had spoken out against repression by the Salvadoran army at the beginning of the country’s 1980-1992 civil war between the right-wing government and leftist rebels.

His assassination presaged a conflict that killed nearly 75,000.

Romero’s sainthood cause had been held up by the Vatican for years out of concern over his perceived association with liberation theology, the Latin American-inspired Catholic theology that holds that Jesus’ teachings require followers to fight for social and economic justice.

Under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith launched a crackdown on liberation theology, fearing what were seen as its Marxist excesses. …

Over the summer, Francis told reporters that Romero’s case had been “blocked out of prudence” by the congregation, but that it had been “unblocked” because there were no more doctrinal concerns.

No date for the beatification has been set. Francis has all but ruled out celebrating it himself, saying recently that it would be up to the head of the saint-making office, Cardinal Angelo Amato, and the prelate who for decades has spearheaded Romero’s cause, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, to decide who would get the honor.

Paglia was to meet with reporters Wednesday to discuss the historic case.

Unlike regular candidates for beatification, martyrs can reach the first step to possible sainthood without a miracle attributed to their intercession. A miracle is needed for canonization, however.

Traditionally, the church has restricted the martyr designation to people who were killed out of hatred for the Catholic faith. Romero’s case lagged in part over questions about whether he was killed for his politics, or for his faith.

The decree signed Tuesday by Francis makes clear that Romero was a martyr in the classic sense, killed out of hatred for the faith.

But in discussing Romero’s cause this past summer, Francis suggested that the definition of martyr could be expanded. …

Francis told reporters during an airborne press conference that, with reference to Romero, he wanted theologians to study if someone who is killed for “doing the work for the other that Jesus commands” could also be considered a martyr.

Murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Romero can become a saint, pope says

This video says about itself:

Assassination of bishop Romero – clip from Salvador

A clip from the movie Salvador by Oliver Stone.

From the BBC:

19 August 2014 Last updated at 03:03 GMT

Pope lifts beatification ban on Salvadoran Oscar Romero

Pope Francis has lifted a ban on the beatification of murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero.

For years, the Roman Catholic Church blocked the process because of concerns that he had Marxist ideas.

An outspoken critic of the military regime during El Salvador’s bloody civil war, Archbishop Romero was shot dead while celebrating Mass in 1980.

Beatification, or declaring a person “blessed”, is the necessary prelude to full sainthood.

If Archbishop Romero will become a saint, then he will be worth it a lot more than Jose María Escrivá de Balaguer y Albas, founder of Opus Dei. Jose María Escrivá de Balaguer y Albas from Spain supported the Franco dictatorship. Nevertheless, Pope John Paul II declared Jose María Escrivá de Balaguer y Albas a saint in 2002.

Archbishop Romero will also be more worthy of sainthood than Pope John Paul II, canonized in 2014. Among the many criticisms of Pope John Paul II are child abuse and Vatican bank scandals during his papacy, and his reactionary views on women and LGBTQ people.

Archbishop Romero will also be more worthy of sainthood than Pope Pius X, canonized in 1954. During Pius X’s papacy, little girl Marietje Kessels was raped and murdered by a priest. And the Vatican covered that up.

The bishop was one of the main proponents of Liberation Theology – an interpretation of Christian faith through the perspective of the poor.

‘Death squads’

On Monday, the Pope said he was hoping for a swift beatification process.

“For me Romero is a man of God,” the pontiff told journalists on the plane bringing him back from a trip to South Korea.

“There are no doctrinal problems and it is very important that [the beatification] is done quickly.”

ANALYSIS: John McManus, BBC News

It seems Francis hasn’t finished wielding his new broom at the Vatican just yet, despite being Pope for more than a year now. After peering into the dark corners of the Vatican’s banking system, and pushing an inclusive brand of Catholicism, he’s now tackling what’s been a painful episode for many Catholics.

Francis’s decision to send the case of the Archbishop Romero to the Vatican’s saint-making office flies in the face of what his two predecessors advocated. Indeed, Francis’s own instincts early on in his Church career also tended to be suspicious of Romero’s Liberation Theology, preferring clerics to steer away from political analysis and advocate salvation through prayer instead.

Yet many Catholics have been puzzled as to why a man killed for standing up for the Poor, has for so long been ignored by a Church which claims to speak for them. The Pope’s comments don’t mean he’s changed his mind on Liberation Theology but may be an acknowledgment that, for many Catholics, Oscar Romero is already a saint – in practice, if not in name.

Archbishop Romero’s funeral was also attacked and dozens were killed.

Archbishop Romero denounced the right-wing death squads that operated in the Central American nation at the time and the oppression against the poor, calling for an end to all political violence.

Left-wing rebels fought an insurgency against the US-backed right-wing government.

Some 75,000 people were killed in the civil war, which began in 1980 and ended in 1992 with a UN-brokered peace agreement.

Archbishop Romero was killed on 24 March 1980, aged 62, after ending his sermon in the capital, San Salvador.

No-one has ever been convicted in connection with his murder.

In 2010, then President Mauricio Funes – El Salvador’s first left-wing leader since the end of the civil war – made an official apology.

“I am seeking pardon in the name of the state,” Mr Funes said as he unveiled a mural honouring Oscar Romero at El Salvador’s international airport.

The archbishop, he said, was a victim of right-wing death squads “who unfortunately acted with the protection, collaboration or participation of state agents”.

General Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, who headed the Salvadoran National Guard (1979-89) and was Minister of Defense (1983-1989) during the CIA and Pentagon’s dirty war in El Salvador (1979-1992) was deported to San Salvador on Wednesday April 8 after the Board of Immigration Appeals refused to overturn a Florida immigration judge’s order of deportation. Upon his arrival in San Salvador, Vides Casanova, 77, was met by a protest demonstration of torture survivors and their supporters, denouncing the general and demanding justice. Many were holding signs with the photos of victims of National Guard and Army death squads. It is estimated that the Salvadoran civil war killed 75,000 people, disappeared 10,000, and displaced more than one million: here.

Egyptian anti-dictatorship poet dies

This is a video about Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, at a demonstration against the Mubarak dictatorship in 2007.

From Al Jazeera:

Egypt’s veteran poet Ahmed Negm passes away

Negm, whose songs were iconic of the 2011 revolution, was an outspoken critic of Egypt’s former regimes.

Last updated: 03 Dec 2013 08:41

Ahmed Fouad Negm, Egypt’s famous poet, died early on Tuesday in Cairo at the age of 84 after a long battle with illness, state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported, citing publisher Mohamed Hashem.

Hashem said Negm’s funeral ceremony will take place at Old Cairo’s famous mosque Al-Hussien, after noon prayers.

Known for his sarcasm and sharp tongue, Negm was a vocal critic of deposed president Hosni Mubarak‘s regime.

His poems had also gotten him jailed by Egypt‘s late president Anwar Sadat, and were banned off state-owned media.

However, the songs he wrote were prevalent in the 2011 uprising.

Revolutionary Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm died yesterday at the age of 84. Netizens from across the Arab world mourn his death: here.

Roque Dalton was the major literary figure and an important political architect of the revolutionary movement in El Salvador and a new film on his life pays due tribute to his creative inspiration, says JOHN GREEN: here.

Murdered Salvadorean Archbishop Romero remembered

This video is about the assassination of bishop Romero in 1980.

From Prensa Latina news agency:

El Salvador Marks Anniversary of Killing of Monsignor Romero

By Raimundo López

San Salvador, March 24

People’s and religious organizations in El Salvador mark today the 33th anniversary of the assassination of Bishop and martyr Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who always protected the poor and persecuted.

He was shot by a hired gunman while celebrating holy mass at the chapel of the Divine Providence Cancer Hospital of San Salvador. His killer has never been found.

The UN Truth Commission that investigated human rights violations during armed conflict (1980-1992) concluded in 1993 that the crime was planned by the founder of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena), Maj. Roberto d’Aubisson.

In a ceremony to pay tribute to Romero yesterday, President Mauricio Funes said that “we are still waiting for justice to get to the bottom of the case and reveal the truth, not only owed to Monsignor’s relatives, but also to the Catholic Church and all the Salvadorian people.”

SAN SALVADOR, Mar 21 2013 (IPS) – A report containing the testimonies of victims of torture during El Salvador’s 1980-1992 civil war will be published 27 years after it was written, to help Salvadorans today learn more about that chapter in the country’s history: here.

EL SALVADOR’S top prosecutors said today that they were seeking the arrest of former president Francisco Flores on charges of embezzlement, illegal enrichment and disobedience: here.

On January 30, former president of El Salvador Francisco Flores Perez died in San Salvador of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 56. The ex-president’s career was dominated by corruption and self-enrichment at the expense of a deeply impoverished Salvadoran working class and peasantry: here.

El Salvador: Left president inaugurated, signs cheap oil deal with Venezuela; Friday, June 6, 2014: here.

Romney’s Bain Capital faces tax avoidance probe

This video from the USA is called Thom Hartmann (July 19, 2012): Bain Capital and El Salvador death squads.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Romney‘s equity firm Bain faces tax avoidance probe

Monday 03 September 2012

by Our Foreign Desk

New York’s attorney general is investigating the tax strategies of some of the largest private equity firms in the US, including Bain Capital, the company founded by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

It emerged at the weekend that attorney general Eric Schneiderman is examining whether the firms have abused a tax strategy to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.

The practice involves converting management fees collected for handling investors’ accounts into fund investments, so resulting in a lower tax rate.

Some tax experts who spoke to the New York Times, which reported the investigation on Sunday, warned that the strategy was potentially illegal, although other experts linked to the companies claimed it was commonplace.

The attorney general sent subpoenas to more than a dozen firms, including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, TPG Capital, Sun Capital Partners, Apollo Global Management, Silver Lake Partners and Bain Capital, according to the official.

Bain Capital has been a high-profile target of the Democrats as they seek to portray Mr Romney as someone willing to close businesses and lay off workers in pursuit of profit.

Mr Romney has claimed that lessons he learned at Bain Capital would help him as president to fix the economy and create jobs.

The tax strategy of converting management fees into investments producing capital gains can be attractive to fund managers because capital gains are subject to a federal tax rate of 15 per cent in the US, which is far less than the top rate of 35 per cent for ordinary income.

The “management fee waiver” strategy is widely used within the industry, the New York Times has claimed.

At least $1 billion (£630 million) in accumulated fees that otherwise would have been taxed as ordinary income for Bain company executives had been converted into investments producing capital gains, according to Bain financial documents leaked online.

Bain partners were able to save more than $200m (£126m) in federal income taxes and more than $20m (£12.5m) in Medicare taxes, according to the newspaper.

The US Internal Revenue Service has not yet ruled on whether the waiver strategy complies with tax law and expert opinion varies.

Romney’s Bain victims set up protest camp: here.

Mitt Romney’s El Salvadorean death squad money

This video from El Salvador says about itself:

The last words of Oscar Romero, said at a hospital Mass shortly before an assassin entered via a back door and shot him (Audio-recording of a Sister present at the Mass).

Archbishop Oscar Romero, [murdered] March 24 1980.

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

Mitt Romney Started Bain Capital With Money From Families Tied To Death Squads

Posted: 08/08/2012 9:38 am Updated: 08/08/2012 10:20 am

In 1983, Bill Bain asked Mitt Romney to launch Bain Capital, a private equity offshoot of the successful consulting firm Bain & Company. After some initial reluctance, Romney agreed. The new job came with a stipulation: Romney couldn’t raise money from any current clients, Bain said, because if the private equity venture failed, he didn’t want it taking the consulting firm down with it.

When Romney struggled to raise funds from other traditional sources, he and his partners started thinking outside the box. Bain executive Harry Strachan suggested that Romney meet with a group of Central American oligarchs who were looking for new investment vehicles as turmoil engulfed their region.

Romney was worried that the oligarchs might be tied to “illegal drug money, right-wing death squads, or left-wing terrorism,” Strachan later told a Boston Globe reporter, as quoted in the 2012 book “The Real Romney.” But, pressed for capital, Romney pushed his concerns aside and flew to Miami in mid-1984 to meet with the Salvadorans at a local bank.

It was a lucrative trip. The Central Americans provided roughly $9 million — 40 percent — of Bain Capital‘s initial outside funding, the Los Angeles Times reported recently. And they became valued clients.

“Over the years, these Latin American friends have loyally rolled over investments in succeeding funds, actively participated in Bain Capital’s May investor meetings, and are still today one of the largest investor groups in Bain Capital,” Strachan wrote in his memoir in 2008. Strachan declined to be interviewed for this story.

When Romney launched another venture that needed funding — his first presidential campaign — he returned to Miami.

“I owe a great deal to Americans of Latin American descent,” he said at a dinner in Miami in 2007. “When I was starting my business, I came to Miami to find partners that would believe in me and that would finance my enterprise. My partners were Ricardo Poma, Miguel Dueñas, Pancho Soler, Frank Kardonski, and Diego Ribadeneira.”

Romney could also have thanked investors from two other wealthy and powerful Central American clans — the de Sola and Salaverria families, who the Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe have reported were founding investors in Bain Capital.

While they were on the lookout for investments in the United States, members of some of these prominent families — including the Salaverria, Poma, de Sola and Dueñas clans — were also at the time financing, either directly or through political parties, death squads in El Salvador. The ruling classes were deploying the death squads to beat back left-wing guerrillas and reformers during El Salvador’s civil war.

The death squads committed atrocities on such a mass scale for so small a country that their killing spree sparked international condemnation. From 1979 to 1992, some 75,000 people were killed in the Salvadoran civil war, according to the United Nations. In 1982, two years before Romney began raising money from the oligarchs, El Salvador’s independent Human Rights Commission reported that, of the 35,000 civilians killed, “most” died at the hands of death squads. A United Nations truth commission concluded in 1993 that 85 percent of the acts of violence were perpetrated by the right, while the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, which was supported by the Cuban government, was responsible for 5 percent.

When The Huffington Post asked the Romney campaign about Bain Capital accepting funds from families tied to death squads, a spokeswoman forwarded a 1999 Salt Lake Tribune article to explain the campaign’s position on the matter. She declined to comment further.

“Romney confirms Bain had investors in El Salvador. But, as was Bain’s policy with any big investor, they had the families checked out as diligently as possible,” the Tribune wrote. “They uncovered no unsavory links to drugs or other criminal activity.”

Nobody with a basic understanding of the region’s history could believe that assertion.

By 1984, the media had thoroughly exposed connections between the death squads and the Salvadoran oligarchy, including the families that invested with Romney. The sitting U.S. ambassador to El Salvador charged that several families, including at least one that invested with Bain, were living in Miami and directly funding death squads. Even by 1981, El Salvador’s elite, largely relocated to Miami, were so angered by the public perception that they were financing death squads that they reached out to the media to make their case. The two men put forward to represent the oligarchs were both from families that would invest in Bain three years later. The most cursory review of their backgrounds would have turned up the ties.

The connection between the families involved with Bain’s founding and those who financed death squads was made by the Boston Globe in 1994 and the Salt Lake Tribune in 1999. This election cycle, Salon first raised the issue in January, and the Los Angeles Times filled out more of the record earlier this month.

There is no shortage of unsavory links. Even the Tribune article referred to by the Romney campaign reports that “about $6.5 million of $37 million that established the company came from wealthy El Salvadoran families linked to right-wing death squads.”

The Salaverria family, whose fortune came from producing cotton and coffee, had deep connections to the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), a political party that death-squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson founded in the fall of 1981. The year before, El Salvador’s government had pushed through land reforms and nationalized the coffee trade, moves that threatened a ruling class whose financial and political dominance was built in large part on growing coffee. ARENA controlled and directed death squads during its early years.

On March 24, 1980, Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador and an advocate of the poor, was celebrating Mass at a chapel in a small hospital when he was assassinated on D’Aubuisson’s orders, according to a person involved in the murder who later came forward.

The day before, Romero, an immensely popular figure, had called on the country’s soldiers to refuse the government’s orders to attack fellow Salvadorans.

“Before another killing order is given,” he advised in his sermon, “the law of God must prevail: Thou shalt not kill.”

In 1984, Robert White, the former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, named two Salaverria brothers — Julio and Juan Ricardo — as two of six Salvadoran exiles in Miami who had directly funded death squads, repeating in sworn congressional testimony a claim he’d made earlier as ambassador. The group became known as the “Miami Six.” White testified that a source close to the Miami Six had notified the U.S. embassy of their activities in January 1981.

Even as Mitt and Ann Romney were going for a gold medal with their dressage horse, Rafalca, in the London Summer Olympics, Mitt already – in my opinion – had a gold medal wrapped up. Maybe not for horse dancing, but for mental gymnastics, and by that I mean lying. And not just for lying about his Bain Capital tenure, or being deliberately deceitful about Obama. I think a serious fundamental defect in Mitt has been on display for a long time: here.

Apologies for Salvadorean, Uruguayan dictators’ crimes

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Latin American governments “apologize” for dictatorships’ crimes

20 January 2012

El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes this week delivered a formal apology in the name of the Salvadoran state for one of the most horrific crimes of that country’s 12-year civil war: the El Mozote massacre of December 1981.

“Countless acts of barbarism and violations of human rights were committed here,” Funes said in a speech delivered in Meanguerra, a municipality in Morazan Province, where the village of El Mozote was located. The occasion was the 20th anniversary of signing of a peace accord between the government and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Movement (FMLN).

In reality, the number of victims at El Mozote and its surrounding area is known, placed at 966 through forensic investigations that identified over 700 of those massacred, while the remains of the rest were dismembered or burned beyond recognition. All of the victims were poor, unarmed and unresisting; the majority of those killed were children.

A United Nations-sponsored “truth commission” issued an account of the massacre in 1992, stating: “On 10 December 1981, in the village of El Mozote in the Department of Morazan, units of the Atlacatl Battalion detained, without resistance, all the men, women and children who were in the place. The following day, 11 December, after spending the night locked in their homes, they were deliberately and systematically executed in groups. First, the men were tortured and executed, then the women were executed and, lastly, the children, in the place where they had been locked up….”

More detailed accounts spoke of women—as well as girls as young as ten—being gang-raped and then machine-gunned or bayoneted to death by troops, of children cut to pieces with machetes and hung from trees and bodies piled up and burned.

The government of El Salvador did not act alone in carrying out these crimes. The Atlacatl Battalion was “made in the USA”, a murderous creation of the Pentagon. In its leadership were graduates of the US military’s infamous School of the Americas, then located in Panama; the battalion as a whole received training from US Special Forces units at Fort Bragg, North Carolina before being unleashed on the Salvadoran people. US Special Forces advisors operated with the unit in El Salvador, and, according to some accounts, were present during the December 1981 massacre.

Far from apologizing for the bloodbath carried out by the counterinsurgency battalion that it had organized and trained, Washington defended its actions, claiming that the reports of the El Mozote massacre were nothing more than “communist propaganda”, and that the unit itself was a model of respect for human rights.

What is the significance [of] Funes’s apology on behalf of the state for such crimes?

This is not just a Salvadoran issue. In Uruguay this week, Foreign Minister Luis Almagro announced that the government of President Jose Mujica will stage a similar formal apology for the crimes carried out by the dictatorship that ruled that country between 1973 and 1985.

In Uruguay’s case, the apology is being staged to comply with the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in a case brought by Macarena Gelman—the granddaughter of Argentine poet Juan Gelman—whose entire life was shaped by the savage repression that swept Latin America’s southern cone in the 1970s.

Macarena’s parents were abducted by security forces in 1976 in Argentina, where her father, Juan Gelman’s son Marcelo, was tortured and murdered in a clandestine detention center. Her mother, Maria Claudia Garcia, then just 19 and pregnant, was sent to Uruguay as part of Operation Condor, a joint plan for repression and murder worked out between the region’s dictatorships and the CIA. She disappeared after giving birth to Macarena, who was turned over to a policeman’s family and only learned her true identity in 2000.

Macarena and her grandfather then sought through the Uruguayan courts to discover her mother’s fate and identify who was responsible. They were blocked at every turn by the so-called law of impunity.

In complying with the Inter-American Court’s decision, the Uruguayan government said it would apologize to the Gelmans as representatives of the thousands upon thousands of Uruguayans who were murdered, tortured, disappeared and forced into exile under the dictatorship.

A common thread runs through the formal state apologies in Uruguay and El Salvador. In the first country, President Mujica is a former member of the Tupamaro guerrilla movement, which transformed itself into a political party after the end of the dictatorship. In El Salvador, Funes came to power as the candidate of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Movement, which went through a similar process after the signing of the Salvadoran peace accords 20 years ago.

Thus, the former Tupamaro Mujica and the candidate of the FMLN Funes are offering formal apologies for repression carried out by military forces that sought the extermination of these two guerrilla movements.