Monday, November 16, 2015

Impunity and extradition

El Salvador's Human Rights Ombudsman David Morales went to El Salvador's Supreme Court on Monday, November 16, the 26th anniversary of the murder of 6 Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter.   Morales was there to file a petition asking the Court to rescind its prior order on extradition of 13 military officers to Spain.   A Spanish court has issued an arrest warrant to require those officers to face justice for the Jesuit massacre, but in 2012, El Salvador's Supreme Court refused the Spanish extradition request.

Morales petition probably has no more than symbolic significance.  The Supreme Court has not changed its composition and is highly unlikely to reverse itself.   Also pending in front of the Supreme Court is a challenge to the 1993 amnesty law which has so far prevented the military command from being prosecuted in El Salvador.   That challenge has been pending for years with no sign that a decision is due soon.

The crimes of El Salvador's civil war remain in impunity as each November 16 anniversary reminds us.



Greg said...

Again, both the FMLN and ARENA (the two primary opponents/combatants during the war) voted to approve the General Amnesty.

The FMLN has since and continues to offer it was "out-voted" or otherwise the minority during the debate and subsequent vote. However, the FMLN did vote to see the Amnesty made law and for good reason.

Its own war-fighting senior leadership representing the five armed organizations were, and indeed claimed themselves to be, the counter-part of the Armed Forces of El Salvador's Estado Mayor.

As such they would have had to subject themselves to the same allegations, investigations and trials and punishments as the Estado Mayor's leadership...a process that necessarily would flow downhill into the lowest ranks of the FMLN leadership and "foot soldiers".

Both opposing leaderships voted themselves to be legally absolved of war crimes, period.

In the years since 1992 various senior leadership figures in the FMLN have either written their own accounts of their role in the war, or been included in 2nd Party historical accounts. "Women in War - The Micro Processes of Mobilization in El Salvador" by Jocelyn Viterna is one such example. "Broadcasting the Civil War in El Salvador - A Memoir of Guerrilla Radio" by Carlos Henrquez and "Santiago" is another. Nidia Diaz's "I Was Never Alone" likewise documents the "necessity" of identifying and then executing alleged informers, traitors, and those who were contrary to the Revolution while also self-confirming her active role in the Mardoqueo Cruz Commando in San Salvador - a unit that kidnapped for ransom, robbed for funds, shot and killed Salvadoran security and police officers, and was responsible for the Zona Rosa murders.

The false accusations and murder of Roque Dalton by, among others, his foremost opposition in the ERP, is yet another significant war crime (that individual went on to betray the FMLN as a whole and today sips English tea in Britain and pontificates from the safety of a foreign government's shores).

The FMLN murders of wounded Salvadorn soldiers in hospital (El Paraiso); the murder of Salvadoran soldiers who trusted the FMLN they would be spared if they just lay down their arms and surrendered (Punte Oro); the murder of American Green Beret Greg Fronius, wounded and unable to fight back any longer...his still breathing body blown apart by J-28 sappers infuriated that he'd held them back long enough for their primary target to gain safety (El Pariso).

Yes, the FMLN's leadership and compas have their fair share of blood on their hands to include "collateral damage" - those civilians killed in cross-fires, bombings, large and smalls scale attacks on villages, quartels, cities.

And the individual deaths of Salvadoran civilians who dared to vote in '84...waylaid and murdered along the the old man whose head was cut off and a hand-scrawled cardboard warning pinned to his naked chest warning "No Vota!".

Who speaks for him justice wise today?

Yes, the 13 military officers so accused in Spain should stand trial. And right afterward so should investigated and legally accused FMLN murderers, rapists, assassins and order-givers.

But they have excused themselves from Justice...using "the law"...and gone on to profit on many levels and speak well of themselves and point their fingers at "the other guy" and offer his murder was criminal but mine was justified!

Impunity, indeed!

"Pero por la muerte...pero por la verdad." - Roque Dalton

Carlos X said...

I will grant that all crimes should be investigated; if there is an accuser, let there be an investigation. But there are plenty of reasons to complain more about the crimes of the government forces than those of the rebels. Let's start with just three. First, they are suspected to be vastly more numerous. The U.N. Truth Commission attributed responsibility to the armed forces for 85 percent of complaints of summary killings, kidnappings, and torture. To my mind, those figures are undisputable unless you want to open a new official investigation that gets to the bottom of it. Second, the violence of the right was "more culpable" as it was repressive violence (in the words of Bl. Oscar Romero). This was a violence directed at stopping needed social reform through a brutal campaign of terror directed at the weakest members of society and their defenders. Take issue? Let's have an investigation. And third, the Amnesty Law was drafted by the right and has been vigorously defended by the right. The left goes along, mostly to protect fragile pacts and salvage political capital, but if you ask me I say forget that and investigate everything. If there's an accuser, let there be an investigation.

Greg said...

Agree. If there is an accuser - which should be the Salvadoran Justice System - let there be a full, unbiased investigation of each of the accused and charges filed if the allegations are founded and trial.

Guilty - Not Guilty.

Let the dead be heard in court through living voices and evidence.

On another note -

Yes, the UN offers 85% of those cases they could find evidence of were committed by Government protected (Military, Political, Business). The FMLN were assigned the remaining 15% of the War Crimes Equation.

Of those tortured, butchered, murdered, beaten, intimidated, disfigured, maimed that could be located. As the FMLN and its leadership there are many, many more that they themselves simply made to "disappear" or otherwise be silenced.

"I am less a war criminal than you - the data proves it!" - Similar to the Nazi or German who plead for mercy as she/he was "just following orders".

Kill one human being and you kill the world - I believe Ghandi promoted this truism.

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