The death of Roque Dalton
El Salvador's great revolutionary poet, Roque Dalton, was murdered on Mother's Day in 1975. The exact circumstances have long been unclear, except that he was executed by members of his own revolutionary movement, the ERP, because they allegedly believed he was a spy.
According to the LA Times, in a story titled Secrets revealed in the death of Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton, an interview in a new documentary about Dalton's life describes the execution and the trigger man:
According to the Salvadoran magazine Contrapunto, Leisch’s film includes an interview with a man who was present at the execution, then-ERP-militant Porfirio Hernandez. On May 10, 1975, Dalton was being held prisoner by the urban guerrilla group at a San Salvador safe house. On that day, Hernandez said, he left the safe house briefly (to visit his mother) and returned to learn the ERP had already executed a man who was being held with Dalton, Armando Arteaga. Hernandez then saw Joaquin Villalobos aim a gun at Dalton.
“He fired a shot, and he missed, and Dalton threw himself on a bed,” Hernandez said. Dalton yelled back, "Don’t kill," (No matés, in Central American Spanish), but Villalobos fired a second shot and killed the poet.
Villalobos would go on to become one of El Salvador’s most respected guerrilla leaders, helping to transform the ERP into a powerful military force that, in effect, fought El Salvador’s U.S.-backed military to a draw. After the Salvadoran Civil War ended with a peace accord in 1992, Villalobos moved to London and his politics moved decidedly to the right.
The family of Roque Dalton continues a campaign to have his executioners face justice. Villalobos continues to be a frequently quoted commentator on Salvadoran politics.