CIA asset Carranza liable for torture and executions

There was one thing which both the plaintiff and the defendant agreed upon in the human rights trial of former Salvadoran Colonel Nicolas Carranza. During the 1970s and early 1980s, he was a paid informant of the US CIA. Carranza's defense team thought that this endorsement by the US government would aid his defense. But on Friday, a jury in Memphis, Tennessee disagreed.

The outcome of the trial is described in this AP report:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Daniel Alvarado said he was kidnapped by government agents in El Salvador, hung blindfolded from a ceiling, shocked with electrical wires and repeatedly beaten.

More than two decades later, a federal jury in Tennessee has held a former Salvadoran Army colonel responsible for the torture.

Nicolas Carranza, 72, failed to stop crimes against humanity when he was a top commander of El Salvador's security forces, the jury found Friday. He was held responsible in civil claims by Alvarado and three others who said they were tortured or that their family members were killed by soldiers under Carranza's command.

"For all these years, I had to carry this inside me," said Alvarado, who testified that he was abducted as a college student and tortured into falsely confessing to the murder of a U.S. military adviser.

Alvarado was set free after U.S. investigators determined he was not responsible for the murder. The supervisor of the torture was an Army major who served under Carranza, he said.

"It makes me feel that if you just wait, justice will come," Alvarado said.

Carranza was ordered to pay $500,000 to each accuser, plus $4 million in punitive damages — $1 million each.

The jury did not reach a verdict in a fifth case, and a mistrial was declared.

The case was brought by the San Francisco based Center for Justice and Accountability. After the verdict, it issued a statement on its website including the following:

The verdict represents the first time that a U.S. jury in a contested case has found a commander liable for crimes against humanity. This means that violations were committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population of El Salvador. The jurors awarded each of the four plaintiffs $500,000 in compensatory damages for a total of $2 million....

The trial was marked by several important revelations. Former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Robert White testified that Colonel Carranza was a paid informant for the CIA while he was Vice-Minister of Defense and a member of the High Command in 1980. At that time White asked the CIA station chief in El Salvador to remove Carranza from the CIA payroll because of his deplorable human rights record but no action was ever taken. Carranza admitted on the witness stand that he had been receiving money from the U.S. government since 1965.

When asked about the suit prior to the verdict, Salvadoran President Tony Saca told the periodical El Faro, "I respect the internal judicial processes of the United States, however, there were people who fought for peace, democracy and liberty, and one of those was Colonel Nicolas Carranza...He was a hero of democracy in the country."

For futher coverage of the trial of Carranza, check out the blog of Will O'Loughlen.


Anonymous said…
President Saca has got it al wrong! How untouch with reality can this man be? El Salvador went through a Civil War, a "popular" revolution! So successful because it had the support of thousands of disconteted people tired of abuse and corruption of a military controlled government! If anyone should be accoladed with the title of "hero of democracy" should be the guerillas, not the assassins that ran the government nor their international associates. It was thanks to this civil war that some "changes" have been made, some believed to be for the best. Any Human Rights violations in El Salvador were thanks to the Western paranoia of the Red Fever popular during the Cold War, and manifested in US's foreign policy as a battle against communism. This policy topped with a repressive government were the enemy/terrorist in this war. Someone should clearly shout at Saca... "Remember the Mozote!" "Remember Monseñor Romero and the Jesuit martyrs!" Why? Because that president really doesn't know his history, and his (corrupt) party is guilty of making El Salvador fall back into situations very similar to those before the civil war... A country marked with social discontent/unrest.
Anonymous said…
My beloved country of El Salvador has suffer for so long the anguish of war, earth quakes , hurricanes and the abuse of so many military tyrannies that for so long govern the country to protect the patrimony that belong to the country; in a few hand of an oligarch group.

These all together with the shameless corruption of leaders that had seeing the opportunity of enrich them selves with out caring about the people who suppose to serve had contributed to a condition in which poverty, crime and lock of opportunities surround the country.

We have a beautiful country and I hope in God one day the people of El Salvador will have the opportunity to be rewarded for all their suffer, bitterness and abuse.