Murder and Robbery at Salvadoran Lutheran University

News comes from San Salvador of a tragic crime. The watchman of the Salvadoran Lutheran University was found hanged, with his wrists and knees bound, on the grounds of the University. The University had been robbed with more than 30 computers, televisions, sound equipment and cash stolen. Here is an English translation of the initial statement from the University:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
The blessing of God be with you.

We want to take this opportunity to comunicate with you concerning painful and tragic events and concerns. The cruelty of the violence always present in our country has come (in the form of violent blows) to the Salvadoran Lutheran University. What has happened is the murder inside the university campus of the guard, Manuel de Jesus Martinez, an act done with the lust for barbarism which reminds us of the forms of action by the Death Squards. Manuel was found hanging from the limb of a tree, but his feet were barely touching the ground, which caused him to sufficate slowly. He was blindfolded, his hands and feet were tied and there were signs of torture.

We are filled with much consternation and at this moment we are not able to deduce the motives of this act. We remember the violence of the past, and this murder also included the robbery of vehicles, the matriculation and first payments for the year of money by students, CD and tape players, televisions, as well as the equipment in the computer center, and the other computers used by the administration and the authorities of the university.

At this moment we are not certain of total magnitude of the damage caused, nor do we have a calculation of the total losses, for the university has been closed temporarily by the police, but we know that the losses will be very significant for this small university.

The Lutheran Salvadoran University is characterized as an alternative project in education, promoting a critical conscience for the society, acompanying the people in their struggles for justice, and in giving opportunities of education for the poor of El Salvador.

We can not leave out the mention that Manuel, a very poor person, like thousands of Salvadorans had been laid off from another position where he was working. Later, after searching for a long time for work, he found a place with us as a guard. In this past year, he has become a part of the Lutheran community of Sal Lorenzo, with others who settled there following the earthquakes (of 2001). He is survived by two sons and two daughters.

We are comforted by signs of brotherly love in the Lutheran community, for when a delegation of brothers and sisters of the Diocese of Turku, Finland visiting El Salvador heard of the bad news, they prayed and asked strength for us in this difficult moment. A memorial candle was lit at the entrance of the university, remembering the light and the presence of Christ in our journey.

Rev. Hector Fernandez
Rector en funciones

The news article in La Prensa about the crime is at this link.

As a personal note, my wife and a delegation of 6 others travels to El Salvador on Tuesday to run a small medical clinic and work with the staff of the Lutheran church.