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.


Greg said…
Roque Dalton was more of a potental threat to Villalobos within the ERP than the allegation of his being a CIA informant.

Power struggles within revolutionary groups / elements are nothing new - witness the brutality of the same within the Sandinistas.

I hope Dalton's family is successful in their quest for justice.

On another note the ERP did not fight the U.S. advised/led forces of the Salvadoran military to a "halt", as offered.

The ERP's successful assasination of Domingo Monterosa turned the heat on in terms of a concerted effort to dismantle the ERP in the field.

This occurred with the direct aid/help of U.S. Special Forces combat advisors, the Salvadoran and U.S. Air Forces, and selected elite Salvadoran military units, specifically the PRAL.

Of interest is former FPL/PRTC explosives expert / commandante, Gilberto Osorio's role in creating, placing and then detonating the bomb hidden in the false Radio Venceremos equipment Monterosa had loaded into his helo.

The PRTC, itself targeted after the assassination of four U.S. Marines in the Zona Rosa, was likewise run to ground and by the war's end was decimated.

Although the PRTC was later found not to be directly responsible for the Zona Rosa murders, the upstart Commando unit (Comandos Urbanos Mardoqueo Cruz} that did conduct the attack was directly connected with the PRTC and these connections branded the PRTC as culpable.

During the dissection of the PRTC Commandante Nida Diaz was wounded/captured by U.S Special Forces advisers during a raid on her headquarters.

The 1989 "Final Offensive" saw the FMLN fail in its military effort and shortly thereafter it agreed to settle the conflict via diplomatic talks rather than be totally destroyed by the U.S./Salvadoran military effort.

Again, justice for Roque Dalton. it is long overdue.