Showing posts from April, 2021

Conclusion of historic week of testimony in El Mozote case

Friday concluded an historic week of testimony in the El Mozote massacre case. The court heard from two expert witnesses regarding the responsibility of the military officer defendants.   While most of the prior testimony in this case has dealt with the horrific events of the days of December 1981 in the hamlet of El Mozote and surrounding communities, this testimony dealt with the command responsibility of the former military leaders now on trial and the broader context of the war against a civilian population being waged by the Salvadoran military. Importantly, this testimony also brought into sharp focus the important (and shameful) role of the US in motivating and covering up this massacre.   Conclusion of Karl testimony On her third day on the witness stand, Stanford professor Terry Karl faced questioning by the lawyers for all the parties. The morning session included questioning from the victims' representatives and the attorney general's office.  For the most part, thi

"There is no military honor in killing children"

  "No hay ningún honor militar en matar niños"  There is no military honor in killing children   These words were spoken by Prof Terry Karl today as she was wrapping up her presentation of her expert opinions in the El Mozote massacre case, where the majority of the 978 victims were children and more than 400 were aged 12 or younger. Yesterday Karl spoke about a pattern of massacres to show that the events at El Mozote fit within a strategy of terror advanced by the hard-line military leadership in control in El Salvador in 1980-81.  Today she spoke about a pattern of operations in the department of Morazán in northeast El Salvador where El Mozote is located. According to Karl, the central target of several operations starting in October 1980, was always to get to the FMLN and to capture Radio Venceremos, the guerilla radio station.  There were attempts in October 1980, March-April 1981, and August 1981 by the armed forces which were always unsuccessful. The problem, accordi

Terry Karl takes stand in El Mozote case

Today Stanford University professor and leading expert on human rights abuses by the military during El Salvador's civil war, Terry Lynn Karl took the witness stand in San Francisco Gotera.   She was there to testify about the responsibility of the military chain of command for the December 1981 massacre in El Mozote and surrounding communities.  At the outset Karl stated that she would testify in six key areas: 1.  Military leaders feared the development of a safe zone controlled by FMLN in Morazan 2.  They developed a plan of extermination which did not distinguish between civilians and combatants 3.  The High Command and the General Staff were in control of strategy and war operations 4   Military leadership was responsible for planning, carrying-out and covering up the massacre.  5.  Given the size of the operation only the High Command and General Staff could be in charge/ 6.  The officers in the field in Morazán, colonels and lieutenants, were responsible for transmitting th

Experts to testify about command responsibility in El Mozote massacre

Starting Monday, April 26, important testimony will be offered in the court hearing the El Mozote massacre case.  The court in San Francisco Gotera will hear from two expert witnesses about the responsibility of military commanders in the Salvadoran armed forces for the 1981 massacre which killed almost 1000 children, elderly, women and others.   For the first time, the testimony will be broadcast live over the internet from San Francisco Gotera.  The hearings are scheduled all week and to run from 8:30-4:00 El Salvador time.   You will be able to find the feed at the Facebook page for El Salvador's Supreme Judicial Court.   In addition, El Salvador Perspectives will also have the live feed on our Facebook page along with my real time comments. The testimony this week is important for pinning responsibility on individual members of the high military command and their specific responsibility.  For example, former minister of defense Guillermo García and chief of the armed forces c

Looking hard at disappearances in El Salvador

This post first appeared on the website of InsightCrime with the title  Report: Soaring Disappearances in El Salvador Linked to Gang Pacts April 21, 2021 By Katie Jones A new report by an El Salvador watchdog group warns that pacts between gangs and public officials to lower homicides in El Salvador are promoting the wider use of forced disappearances, showing how gangs are still using violence to maintain political and territorial control. Using data from the Attorney General’s Office and the National Police, investigators examined some 20,000 disappearances from 2014 to 2019, according to the report published in April by the Foundation of Studies for the Application of Law (Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho – FESPAD), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting rule of law in El Salvador. Municipalities with the highest number of disappearance cases correlated with the strongest gang presence and the highest crime rates, according to the report. “Empirical e

More attempts to add roadblocks on road to justice in El Mozote case

More than a dozen human rights organizations today called on El Salvador's Supreme Judicial Court to ensure that the pending El Mozote judicial proceedings are not further delayed by defense tactics.  In their press conference , the victims decried the latest attempt to forestall justice for the massacre of almost a thousand children, elderly, women and others 40 years ago this December. From the statement of the human rights advocates: 4. The foregoing generates enormous concern among the victims, who have complained continually of the progress of the judicial process needed to get a judgment that establishes the truth and justice of this case, which constitutes the most massive massacre in the contemporary history of Latin America. 5. The strategy of using judicial resources to delay, challenge judges to get a favorable vote and stop the prosecution of war criminals, has been a strategy used in El Salvador recently, specifically in the case of the massacre of the Jesuit fathers

China stays close to El Salvador

While relations between the Salvadoran government and the Biden administration in Washington are currently strained, China continues to advance its own agenda through support of various projects in El Salvador.  Most recently, Chinese "vaccine diplomacy" was deployed in El Salvador with a donation of 150,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and the facilitation of purchases of 2 million more.    El Salvador broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established diplomatic ties with the Peoples Republic of China in 2018 during the FMLN administration of Salvador Sanchez Ceren.  The Chinese promised $150 million in donations and were pushing forward to acquire rights to manage the port of La Union.     The El Salvador-China relationship was reset after Nayib Bukele defeated the FMLN to become president.  At the outset, as he wooed the US, Bukele appeared to favor a more distant relationship with China.  Shortly after his election, he spoke to Trump administration advisor John Bol

In other news

A collection of recent articles relating to El Salvador in the English language press. Their Lawsuit Prevented 400,000 Deportations. Now It’s Biden’s Call .   The origins of the Temporary Protected Status program told through the stories of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that prevented for a period its termination by the Trump administration.  Immigrants with temporary status grow deep roots in U.S.    Another story about the deep rooted lives of TPS holders from El Salvador in the US. How Kamala Harris can find the solution for the migration crisis -- A lawyer who handled a suit against a Salvadoran war criminal in a US court urges a new "truth commission" to illuminate how US policy created the root causes of current Central American migration.  El Salvador's Long-Dominant Parties in Crisis After Drubbing -- ARENA and the FMLN governed El Salvador — often as mortal enemies — for the past three decades until Bukele swept them aside in 2019 due to widespread voter disgus

Migration from El Salvador surging again

Migration from El Salvador towards the US has been one defining feature of the past several decades of Salvadoran history.  It is a trend originating in the violence, oppression and poverty of the conflict years and has continued ever since.  This trend does not respect who is in power in El Salvador, including the current president, as illustrated by the current surge in those heading north.        US government statistics show that migration from El Salvador has been accelerating in recent months.  It is also striking how the first three months of 2020 are on almost exactly the same pace as the surge in 2019: All of this data comes from US Customs & Border Patrol , and reflects (1) Salvadorans crossing the border at ports of entry without documentation and seeking asylum or (2) Salvadorans crossing away from official entry points and being apprehended.  As the statistics show, migration did drop significantly during 2020 and the pandemic.  After hitting a low of 471 detentions in

Bukele's rocky relationship with US

Ricardo Zúniga Ricardo Zúniga, the Biden administration's special envoy to Central America to address root causes of migration,  arrived in El Salvador today. He arrives at a time in which president Nayib Bukele has been receiving criticism from different actors in the US government. On this trip Zúniga is visiting with officials from Guatemala and El Salvador and has talked to Honduran officials from Washington. The trip comes during a surge in the number of persons from Central America approaching the US southern border with hopes of crossing into the country, despite the insistence of the Biden administration that the border is closed. In addition to discussing root causes of migration, Zúniga has indicated that the Biden administration wants to  fortify legal paths for migration  from Central America. Zúniga's visit to El Salvador is the first visit by a representative of the US government since Joe Biden assumed the presidency in January. In early February, Bukele