Written by Mike Farrell
For Huffington Post
Wednesday, 19 March 2014
As one of many Americans who fought the Reagan Administration’s effort to turn El Salvador into another Vietnam, I’m both inspired by current events in that country and angered at the lack of interest shown by the U.S. media. Like Vietnam, it may be too embarrassing for some to look back at our complicity in the killing.
In 1980, after Archbishop Oscar Romero appealed to “the men of the army… the ranks of the National Guard, the police and the military,” to stop “killing your own brother peasants,” he said, “(n)o soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law,” and ended his plea with the words, “I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God, stop the repression.” For that, he was assassinated as he celebrated mass.
Three days later President Reagan, led by his cadre of anti-communist zealots, with the complicity of a Congress fearful of being labeled “soft,” engineered a grant of $13 million to a Salvadoran government controlled by its military and followed it days later with an overt $5.7 million in military aid to combat what they fantasized as a “Cuban-inspired Communist plot” in our hemisphere. And the U.S.-supported slaughter ensued.
Led by General Jose Guillermo Garcia, known for saying “every peasant is a potential subversive,” the U.S.-trained Salvadoran forces, rich with our dollars and “U.S. military advisors,” did their dirty work for years despite growing opposition within the U.S. that finally prevailed over Reagan’s wrecking crew.
In 1992 a peace treaty between the rebels and the Salvadoran government was finally approved, ending the war. A U.N. Truth Commission report a year later laid the vast majority of the war’s human rights atrocities at the feet of the Salvadoran military, and some of its former leaders were tried and convicted in U.S. courts.
Despite this finding, however, the battles continued in the political arena, with the right wing assuming power in the country and engineering the passage of an amnesty law protecting human rights violators, some of whom succeeded to office, from prosecution.
Today, though, despite a lack of acknowledgement from U.S. leadership or media, the people are speaking and there are signs of change.