Threats to historic memory in El Salvador
There have been several recent good articles about the threats to historic memory and the continuation of impunity for human rights violations which the attack on Pro-Busqueda and the closing of Tutela Legal represent. Those articles include:
- Case Records of Children ‘Disappeared’ Into Adoption Destroyed in El Salvador Attack by Karen Smith Rotabi and Carmen Monico
- Burning History in San Salvador by Sarah Maslin
- Memory and Repression in El Salvador by Alexandra McAnarney
- El Salvador: War Crime Archives In Suspense by Tomás Andréu
In this year of presidential elections in El Salvador, McAnarney reminds us why these issues matter so much:
Yet, upon a closer look, none of the presidential candidates' hands are clean. FMLN candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren was responsible for commanding thousands of assassinations between 1986 and 1990. ARENA candidate Norman Quijano has never been directly implicated in any human rights violations, however, his party was responsible for the most egregious human rights violations carried out during the civil war - among them the El Mozote and El Sumpul massacres and the assassination of Archbishop Romero. Then there's the fact that ARENA founder and death squad architect Roberto D'Aubisson had a penchant for torturing his victims with a blowtorch, a penchant that earned him the nickname "Blowtorch Bob." As a third-party candidate, ex-President Tony Saca of the GANA party represents more of the same thing. Formed in January 2010, the party is mostly comprised of former ARENA party members and has since gone to form a coalition with two additional smaller parties. However, one of his most public supporters, Joaquin Villalobos, has long been considered one of the men responsible for the murder of poet and section leader Roque Dalton.
With so many interested in shaping the narratives of the past to preserve their freedom, the slate will never truly be wiped clean. But for the sake of those 1.24 million youth who are growing up in a post-civil war era and trying to stake their claim in Salvadoran civil society, a plurality of narratives and perspectives is necessary to ensure they can move forward in shaping a political future that will finally yield positive outcomes. It will be up to them to wipe the slate clean. Too many are trying so hard to forgive and forget that they keep repeating their deadliest mistakes.