Some war records of Salvadoran military found in archives

After a judge hearing the El Mozote massacre case ordered the president of El Salvador and the country's military to provide records concerning military operations, some records may have been located in the General Archive of El Salvador.   While the military continues to claim it does not have a single document throughout all of its branches, some records of "historical significance" may have been saved in other archives.

On October 24, Judge Jorge Alberto Guzmán, who is presiding over the El Mozote trial issued his order to the president and defense minister to turn over records.  Now, according to a report in El Faro, the 42 divisions of the Salvadoran military have all responded that they have no records from the time of the El Mozote massacre.  However, the president's office stated that it has located records which could be "of interest" in the General Archive of the Nation.   The General Archive falls under the Ministry of Culture.

According to the El Faro story, in May 2013, the armed forces notified the Ministry of Culture that they were preparing to destroy 22 linear meters of documentation.   The Ministry of Culture recommended that certain documents not be destroyed but instead transferred to the General Archive because of their historic significance. The file destruction in May 2013 occurred only six months after the Inter-American Court for Human Rights ruled against El Salvador in the El Mozote massacre case and ruled that the country's 1993 amnesty law, enacted after the close of the civil war, should not impede investigations of war crimes.

El Faro also quotes a military officer who describes an earlier order given shortly after the signing of the peace accords for the military to destroy files from the time of the war.

What the records from the General Archive will contain is not yet known while judge Guzmán makes a decision about how the records may be utilized.   Lawyers for the El Mozote victims hope the records will shed light not just on the events in their case, but also other crimes against humanity committed during the country's 12 year civil war.