Ex-Colonel Involved In 1989 El Salvador Jesuit Murders Finally Going To Prison
Former El Salvadoran army colonel Inocente Orlando Montano, 77, was convicted in a Spanish court this week and sentenced to 133 years in prison, for the "the decision, design and execution" of the murder of five Spanish Jesuit priests in El Salvador in 1989, who were killed along with one Salvadoran Jesuit priest, a housekeeper and her 16-year-old daughter. The Spanish government was unable to charge him for the murders of the Salvadorans.
Montano, who was extradited from the US to stand trial for the murders, was the Vice-Minister for Public Security at the time of the murders, and had claimed that the priests were "fully identified with subversive movements" during the El Salvadoran Civil War. They had, in reality, been advocating for a peaceful settlement between the El Salvadoran government and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. While the FMLN is now one of the two major political parties in El Salvador, they were, at the time a coalition of left-wing guerrilla organizations fighting against the military junta government of El Salvador, which was responsible for all kinds of human rights violations, recruitment of child soldiers and priest murdering.
Via The Guardian:
The proceedings were held in Madrid under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which enables human rights crimes committed in one country to be investigated in another.
The panel of judges examined the events of 16 November 1989, when senior Salvadoran military officers attempted to derail peace talks by dispatching a US-trained death squad to murder the Jesuits at their lodgings in the Central American University (UCA) in San Salvador.
The soldiers carried with them an AK-47 rifle taken from the leftwing guerrillas of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) in an attempt to pin the blame on the group.
The UCA's 59-year-old rector, Father Ignacio Ellacuría – originally from Bilbao and a key player in the push for peace – was shot dead, as were Ignacio Martín-Baró, 47, and Segundo Montes, 56, both from Valladolid; Juan Ramón Moreno, 56, from Navarra, and Amando López, 53, from Burgos.
The soldiers also murdered a Salvadoran Jesuit, Joaquin López y López, 71, in his room before killing Julia Elba Ramos, 42, and her daughter, Celina, 15. Ramos was the housekeeper for another group of Jesuits, but lived on the university campus with her husband and daughter.
The United States spent about $1-2 million a day for 12 years, about $5 billion in total, keeping that military junta in charge, by the way. The Atlacatl Battalion, who were actually responsible for killing the six Jesuits, a housekeeper and her 16-year-old daughter, were trained at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina by Unites States special forces. They were also equipped and directed by the US military advisors in El Salvador during the civil war. They were also responsible for several other mass murders. In 1981, they assisted the Salvadoran Army in killing 800 civilians in El Mozote. In 1982, in El Calabozo, they killed over 200 people, including children and elderly people.
Oh! Oh wait! While some of this did occur during the Carter administration, which was bad, Carter cut off aid to the the junta in 1980 after three nuns and a missionary from the US were abducted, brutally raped and murdered by the Salvadoran military. Once Reagan, the darling of the Religious Right, was in office, however, he started giving them loads of money again.
We really, really don't fucking talk about this shit enough. The United States spent billions upon billions of dollars training Latin American death squads to kill civilians and priests in order to help right-wing dictators stay in power, because we were "fighting communism," while Reagan had the fucking nerve to complain about non-existent "welfare queens" supposedly being a drain on the system. And to this day, Republicans still have the fucking nerve to complain about "migrant caravans" from countries like El Salvador, which probably would not be a thing had the United States not completely fucked up those countries in pursuit of "preventing communism."
It is unlikely that Inocente Orlando Montano will serve more than 30 years in prison. Given that he's 77, he will likely serve much less than that. But it's something, I guess. Maybe it's something that will remind people that this happened, and that the United States helped it happen.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse