State Department symbolically bars defendants in Jesuit case from entering the US

The US State Department today barred from entry into the United States several former Salvadoran military officers for their involvement in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests, their co-worker and her daughter.   

The State Department press release reads in part:
Today, the Department of State is publicly announcing the designation of 13 individuals under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act 2019.  This designation is due to their involvement in gross violations of human rights in El Salvador related to the planning and execution of the extrajudicial killings of six Jesuit priests and two others on November 16, 1989 on the campus of Central American University in El Salvador.  The United States condemns all human rights abuses that took place on both sides of the brutal civil war in El Salvador, including those committed by governmental and non-governmental parties.... 
The Department has credible information that the following persons have been involved in gross violations of human rights: Juan Rafael Bustillo, Juan Orlando Zepeda, Inocente Orlando Montano Morales, Francisco Elena Fuentes, Guillermo Alfredo Benavides Moreno, Yusshy René Mendoza Vallecillos, José Ricardo Espinoza Guerra, Gonzalo Guevara Cerritos, Carlos Camilo Hernández Barahona, Oscar Mariano Amaya Grimaldi, Antonio Ramiro Avalos Vargas, Angel Pérez Vásquez, and José Alberto Sierra Ascencio.  These 13 former Salvadoran military personnel, ranging in rank from general to private, were involved in the planning and execution of the extrajudicial killings of six Jesuit priests and two others taking refuge at the Jesuit pastoral center on November 16, 1989 on the campus of Central American University in El Salvador.
The US State Department decision has only symbolic impact and little practical effect on the lives of these retired Salvadoran military. They were not going to leave El Salvador any time soon because of international warrants for their arrest coming out of the Jesuit massacre case pending in Spain.  It does, however, prevent their immediate family members from entering the US as well.


Greg said…
The State Department bar of those named individuals being permitted to enter the United States is not symbolic.

It comes on the heels of USSTATE's directive from Congress now two weeks ago as contained in the Foreign Aid Bill, that USTATE begin, within 30 days, to provide heretofore archived documents, many not released despite numerous FOIA requests over the years, regarding what the USGOV knew, when it knew it, and who provided the information reference the El Mozote Massacre.

Last week, as announced in ESPs, retired Air Force general Bustillo (named in the bar now being imposed), admitted the Army was indeed responsible for the massacre. He did so on the public record and became the first defendant to address the question of responsibility.

The State Department bar signals USSTATE's understanding it is now under congressional mandate to provide the judge overseeing the upcoming trial with its archives regarding El Mozote. It also sends an advance signal of State's understanding it is the Jesuit Murders case that, after the El Mozote case is concluded, is predicted to be next on the docket. Precluding the named Salvadoran officers / soldiers from immigrating and/or visiting the United States now precludes having to potentially extradite these suspects should there be a trial.

In short, USGOV is now, for the first time since the El Mozote massacre, complying with the interest for Justice by the Salvadoran People as well as quietly agreeing it will release critical documents heretofore withheld to mask what the USGOV truly knew in 1981.

This also may indicate that USGOV is inching toward sending Colonel (ret) Reyes Mena, responsible for the assassination of 4 Dutch journalists early on in the war and discovered living in the United States in 2018 by a Dutch investigative news team, back to El Salvador. Reyes Mena faces charges there and possibly in Holland whose war crimes team has been tracking him for years now, and is pressing the US, as well, to remove him from the country -