The trial of Colonel Nicholas Carranza is underway in Memphis. The first witness for the plaintiffs was former US Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White. Some of the highlights of his testimony are reported by the Memphis Commercial-Appeal:
White described Carranza as the "quarterback" of a terror campaign designed to prop up the longstanding military oligarchy and eliminate dissent.
The military ran the government, White said, for the benefit of 14 wealthy families.
When democratic initiatives by labor unions, the Roman Catholic Church and intellectuals began to emerge, death squads indiscriminately killed anyone suspected of anti-government tendencies.
The crackdown, in which the country's archbishop, two American advisers and three nuns were assassinated, drove many of that country's young people into the camp of leftist guerrillas, White said.
White warned his State Department superiors about Carranza's actions in telegrams introduced Tuesday as evidence.
Carranza, he said in one missive, "has got to go."
Carranza's attorney has shed light on his client's defense:
Carranza was a paid informant for the CIA, and tried to reform El Salvador's security forces, his attorney, Robert Fargarson, told jurors.
In his years in Memphis, he has never hidden his identity from possible accusers.
"It is inconceivable that the U.S. government would trust Nicholas Carranza, and he being a savage, insensitive person," Fargarson said.
El Salvador, like the rest of Central America, was being targeted by Communists who sought to influence grassroots groups opposed to the military dictatorship, his attorney said.
"Communists were very active in Central America," Fargarson said, and armed guerillas killed many of the 10,000 civilians who died in 1980 alone.