When the Assassins Turn Themselves In…

8 Aug

I remember the first time I learned that six Jesuit priests  were assassinated by the United States backed Salvadoran army in 1989 because of their sympathy with the poor and marginalized and their suspected ties to the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). I was a sophomore at SUNY New Paltz watching a documentary about Roy Bourgeois, an American priest on a mission to close the School of the Americas, the institution that trained military personnel from around  the region on counter-revolutionary tactics … you know … like targeted assassination and torture.

In the film, the murder of the priests underscores the brutal methods Latin American militaries brought home from the school to try out on advocates for reform and redistribution of wealth in the Americas. In El Salvador we’re also talking about the assassination of Archbiship Oscar Romero and the massacre of hundreds, including newborn babies, at El Mozote.

It’s not every day that the assassins responsible for these acts simply turn themselves in. This could be a wild assumption but in the field of Transitional Justice  I’m pretty sure that this type of thing is unthinkable.  But that’s exactly what happened today when 9 former soldiers turned themselves over to the Salvadoran government in response to an extradition from Spain. Take that Universal Jurisdiction haters.

Not much word from mainstream press on this yet. In absence of any article, New York Times readers will have to rely on this Associated Press report published by both the Washington Post and the Guardian. 

The BBC and Los Angeles Times provide some more context here  and here.  Spanish readers can also read up on the story from El Salvador.  I’m looking for  more conversation on this as the story develops – and perhaps some reckoning with the question – why were 6 jesuit priests really gunned down by the Salvadoran army in 1989? Your thoughts are welcome.


One Response to “When the Assassins Turn Themselves In…”


  1. Your Neighbor, the Assassin « Un Pueblo al Sur – A Village to the South - August 22, 2011

    […] quick update on a story that I visited on this blog, another Salvadoran ex- army colonel accused of the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests was found […]

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