El Salvador Much of El Salvador’s problems come from a long time ago, mostly beginning in the 1930’s. From the 1930’s until about the 1960’s and 1970’s much of the problem in El Salvador was about the land and the economy. From the 1960’s and 1970’s through 1992 most of the problems consisted of battles between government and opposition groups and basic denial of human rights. It’s through this time that religion begins to play a role in the problem of El Salvador. It’s during much of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that many people of El Salvador lost their lives.
In the following text I will discuss more thoroughly in detail the problems of land, economy, government, and human rights in El Salvador. It was in 1932 popular unrest from peasants and land workers made a collapse in the coffee market sending us them into a worldwide depression. At this time General Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez was in power and he responded to this depression with fire and bloodshed. This slaughter cost thirty thousand peasants their lives. La Matanza, Spanish for massacre, is one of the biggest massacres in El Salvador.
The uprising was blamed on a party known as the Communists Party and was started because of low wages. The leader, Agustin Farabunduo Marti, was arrested and executed for supposedly setting it up. A historian from the massacre describes the event as follows: Almost of the rebels, except the leaders, were difficult to identify, arbitrary classifications were set up. All those who were found carrying machetes were guilty. All those of a strong Indian cast of features, or who dressed in a scruffy, campesino costume, were considered guilty.
To facilitate the roundup, all those who had not taken part in the uprising were invited to present themselves at the comandancia to receive clearance papers. When they arrived they were examined and those with the above mentioned attributes seized. Tie by the thumbs to those before and behind then, in the customary Salvadoran manner, groups of fifty were led to the back wall of the church of Asuncion in Izalco and against that massive wall were cut down by firing squads. In the plaza in front of the comandancia, other selected victims were made to dig a massive grace and then shot, according to one account, from machine guns mounted on trucks. In some cases, women and children reused to leave their menfolk and shared their fate. Today’s Guerillas fight under the banner of the Farabundo Marti Front of National Liberation, also known as the FMLN, which officially started in 1979.
Still today the FMLN exists, but I’ll get to them a little later. General Martinez set a pattern for a military-oligarchical control of the country that lasted for the next fifty years. This meant that only presidents came from military ranks. After WWII, the economy of El Salvador improved slowly. Industrialization and an urban class working class took shape. Most of this occurred because of the Alliance for Progress, which developed in the 1960’s. Also after WWII, the constitution of El Salvador, which was started in 1886, was reinstated in amended form.
An organization called ORDEN was created. This was a Salvadoran security squad, which quickly grew to more than eighty thousand members. They were basically used as an elaborate system of internal espionage. The election of 1972 led to the death of about one hundred people. Napolean Durante, a Christina Democrat, and Guillermo Manuel Ungo, ran together basically expecting to be president and vice-president.
They fought for human rights and social justice and an end to forty years of military dictatorship. But fraud by the military mad them lose the election. It was in March that protesting about the fraud of the election led to the deaths of the hundred people. After this happened Durante and many other political leaders were captured and tortured. In the years to come many other guerilla groups began to form.
The FPL formed in 1970 from a group of university students that came from the PCS. Next the ERP and then the FARN formed. The FARN formed from an ERP splinter group in 1975. These groups differed in military and political strategy, for instance the ERP used sabotage and acts of terrorism while other groups were more into building popular support. In 1974 the FAPU formed which consisted of urban workers. The next year the BPR developed and was combined of peasants.
And finally in 1978 the LP-28 was set up with the basis of this organization being from the slums of San Salvador. Soon after the development of these organizations they decided to join forces. This left us with the FAPU and the FARN, the BPR and the FPL, and the LP-28 with the ERP. After all this growth the government of Colonel Arturo Armando Molina, under the pressure from the U.S. attempted to counter this growth by enacting a limited agrarian reform, supported by a government favored peasant organization.
It was called the UCS and claimed 100,000 members and received much support from the U.S. In 1977 there was another stage of fraud that put Carlos Humberto Romero in office, but he wasn’t to stay in office lone. Two years later a group of young military officials removed Romero from presidency. Sometime during all this Oscar Romero was brought in to be the Archbishop. This is when religion actually comes into play. Romero was basically brought into office because other government officials didn’t think that he would be a person to make many changes, so basically they felt that they would be able to run all over him and do whatever they felt.
You see, the government sees Romero as a quite person and they don’t feel that he will take any actions towards the things that are going on. But this is when they find out differently. Romero was a very religious person. He is a priest of the Catholic tradition. This is what most of the population of El Salvador is, although nearly ninety-seven percent of Salvadorans are of Cristina faiths. Protestant groups have grown to be about twenty percent of the population.
The night of his election he had communion and there were lots of supports and suddenly the National Guard came in and started yelling orders. They told people who wanted to leave, to leave. Then they opened fire. Once the onslaught had ceased, there was a calculation of about sixty people killed. Not long after this night his best friend, who was also a priest with him, would be killed.
From this point on, Romero decides that he is going to stop all these acts of violence and terrorism. There are many times when Romero put his life on the line. Finally the repression groups have had enough with Romero disobedience that he is assassinated. Oscar Romero was killed on the 24 of March while saying mass. I’m not sure which group the killer came from, but he entered the back of the church and took his shot and killed Romero. Before the assassination occurred, the people involved drew straws to determine who would be the lucky person.
After the shot was fired the man fled in an awaiting car and was never apprehended. At Romero’s funeral security forces opened fire on all the people who attended the funeral. On November sixth the junta was supposed to formally dissolve the organization ORDEN. This was based on all the many cases of human rights abuse. But no effective measures where taken to disband the squad and continued to operate.
Since they weren’t disbanded ORDEN continued to go on with many of the tortures and killings as they did before. Another massacre known as the massacre of Monte Carlo involved the assistance of ORDEN. Amnesty International gives this account on the night: On the night of 7 April 1981 when more than 20 people, including several youths ewer taken from their homes in San Nicolas de Soyapango, a suburb to the east of San Salvador, by a group of men, some of them in uniform, and were later found dead. On 9 April, Amnesty International called on the government of El Salvador to open an investigation in to this incident. Initially, Salvadoran authorities claimed that the victims had dies in an armed confrontation with the police, but residents of the are insisted that some of those who did had been shot on the spot, while others were taken from their homes by the Treasury Police, and their bodies were found later.
Some of the bodies found elsewhere had their hand bound, an act totally inconsistent with the official explanation that the victims had died in a shoot-out with the police. Later, however, both Salvadoran and U.S. officials said that individual units of this security force had apparently been involved, and U.S. officials stated that Salvadoran and U.S. officials were cooperating to investigate the incident. Throughout the eighties there were still many tortures and deaths that took place. One that made many headlines in 1980 was the death of four US churchwomen.
Basically the women were picked up, sexually abused, and beaten to death after leaving the airport. This was done by members of the National Guardsmen. After the bodies of the wo …