This was a speach I had the pleasure to deliver after presenting three cases with my team mates at an International Tribubal held last year in El Salvador. I posted earlier the spanish version which I never got to translate till now that I have a little more time. This is intended to open the eyes of those in Latin America and in particular El Salvador, and to say that while there are people who have yet to recieve justice, there can really be no lasting peace. When people are unsatisfied, when they are not heard, they take to changing things by any means necesary. The truth even if it comes late, is important. I dont expect people to understand our disatisfaction if you havnt lost everything to government brutality. And when the question comes up asking..."That is the past, let it go"...well I could ask these people to forget september 11th...I doubt they are willing to forget that. Or what if it was your mother, father, brother, sister or child killed by your government...I would think you would want satisfaction. I worked with many victims who lost everything, to the extreme right wing of El Salvador, I could never ask them to forget their murdered child, spouse or any those wounds still bleed for them and will continue till they die.
The Truth as it relates to el salvador and the law of amnisty
Every time the anniversary of the murder of Monsignor Romero or the anniversary of the murder of the Jesuit priest comes up on the calendar, or when these topics are putt o some scrutiny, the media of the country and in particular the right wing of the country, starting with the ARENA political party who is followed by the political party of the military dictators, the PCN the sound bite is the same over and over again, “that is something that has been left in the past.” That we should not open old wounds, that “the salvadoran people have moved on and no one cares about those cases”.
■Before we go on lets look at something. (Project the photo of a banner that says “the National Guard Lives”) This photo was taken on February fourth of 2012, marking the 100 years of the National Guard being founded, an event organized by the Academy of Military History of El Salvador.
■Apparently this is not a thing of the past, out of sight and out of mind, gone and forgotten. The wound made at the massacre of La Cayetana still bleeds thirty eight years later. The perpetrators still see themselves as heroes and there are those who actually see them as heroes. Their major goal is for the people not to speak of this evil that we have exposed in this tribunal. They depend on oblivion. They depend on the people forgetting and making themselves vulnerable again.
■(Referring to the photo “the national guard lives”) But as you see, a picture is worth a thousand words, doesn’t it? They are proud of the wounds they inflicted on the Salvadoran society and for the right wing this is not a topic open for debate, study and much less of forgive and forget. How can the people forgive when no responsible party has owned up to the atrocities and asked for forgiveness?
■It wasn’t even five days after the truth commission published its report on the atrocities, violations to Human Rights and crimes against humanity that the people of this small nation that they were spat in the face with the Amnesty law to make peace solid. Coincidence? This law protected all war criminal from being investigated, prosecuted or punished for his actions. On the television; given that most media in El Salvador is owned by the right wing fanatics, the commission of the Joint Chief of staff of the armed forces in Salvador easily got air time to say the truth commission was corrupt and that the armed forces had nothing to do, and was not guilty for the crimes exposed in the report.
■The question remains, if the armed forces and government authorities are innocent of what the Truth Commission Report accuses them of why do they need a law to pardon them and protect them, and why do they hide behind this law. If they are innocent wont history absolve them. Why do they need and Amnesty law. Why is it that every time that the people ask their elected officials for the truth about the disappeared the archives of the defense department are closed? These archives don’t belong to the individual administrating, they belong to the people. That’s right these documents belong to you the people, you paid for them with your taxes. But because if you find out the truth, you might demand justice and you might demand those responsible to be punished. Because you might be filled with an unstoppable energy to be recognized as citizens with inalienable rights and take back the country from those who have kidnapped it since its birth…you cannot see these archives
■In Spain many of the monuments that honored the memory of the bloody dictator Francisco Franco have been taken down from public view. In El Salvador there is a plaza that honors the United Nations, a pillar that stands for Human Rights and defender of these rights. Not 500 meters from this plaza there is another Plaza that honors the memory of Roberto Da’buisson, the creator of the infamous death squads in the country and intellectual author of the murder of Monsignor Romero. In our country there are not only monuments honoring violators of Human Rights but they also elect officials to the government that are have violated human rights, assassins that are elected to the national legislative assembly. Such is the case of those responsible for the massacre at El Clabozo in San Vicente like the congress man Sigfrido Ochoa Perez.
■There is a saying…”Treason does never proper”. Why? Because if it prospers no one dare call it “treason”. These massacres by state mercenaries and their cover up and the continuous impunity is the biggest treason to the Salvadoran people by the government that represnts them.
■These tribunals are for the purpose to learn the truth, nothing in our lives is so important as the truth as that from the truth we can search for a better life that those younger than ourselves deserve.
We must uncover the truth, for our own sake we must search and find the truth. We must demand from our government, our state to listen to the past and not turn its back to it. The truth is the greatest virtue we posses. Without it we don’t know where we came from and don’t know where we are going. As always, the future, its for you to decide.