March 6, 2007
We are sorry to bring sad news. Today, at 12:30 PM, Rufina Amaya, known around the world as the sole survivor of the infamous massacre at El Mozote (December 11, 1981), drew her last breath. She had gone into the hospital with respiratory problems and later a stroke. Due to complications with her diabetes and hypertension, she suffered multiple heart attacks and strokes in her final moments. Rufina gave birth to 11 children, only 2 survived, the oldest, Fidelia, and the youngest, Marta. The rest died either in the massacre or during the war.
The massacre at El Mozote Dec. 11th, 1981, orchestrated and carried out by the Salvadoran military with the backing of the U.S. government, claimed over 1,000 lives. Rufina´s survival and escape was miracle, even as she heard the screams and cries of her townspeople, and even her own children, as they were brutally murdered. She has continued to be the most visible symbol of the importance of historical memory, re-telling her tragic story over and over for foreign delegations, journalists, and even in the U.S. Congress. Rufina’s story has been written, taped, and passed along through countless retellings. You can even see her on YouTube. You can also read about the massacre at El Mozote in The Massacre at El Mozote by Mark Danner (1994)[ a shorter version is available online from Mark Danner's 1993 article in the New Yorker which vividly tells the story of El Mozote and Rufina Amaya.
We are communicating with her family to find out where they wish donations to be sent in her honor. Rufina participated in a number of organizations, including the Pastoral Team of Comunidad Segundo Montes, and the War-Wounded Association (ALGES) of Morazán.
Our January delegation met Rufina just two months ago, but did not ask her to re-tell her testimony. Even without hearing those terrible stories, the delegates were moved by her passion and eloquence and the obvious moral authority she wielded gently and humbly. She was a close partner of Voices on the Border and a tireless champion for justice and truth. Her death is an enormous loss to all who knew her, and millions more who cried for her, having never met her.
You may also want to read this blog entry by my friend Meg who met Rufina Amaya last year.