Denouncing the massacre of El Mozote

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.
Isaiah 61: 1-2

Thirty years ago, on December 11, 1981,  almost 1,000 civilians were killed by Salvadoran soldiers of the Atlacatl Battalion in the town of El Mozote, Morazán, El Salvador. One of the worst massacres of a bloody civil war, US and Salvadoran authorities tried to hide the grotesque murders of men, women, and children. But the truth came to light through Rufina Amaya, a woman who by hiding in the bushes survived to tell the story, and through the brave efforts of two journalists, Ray Bonner and Alma Guillermoprieto.

Father Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., killed by the Salvadoran military (also from the Atlacatl battalion) almost eight years later, wrote a reflection on “The Anonymous Martyrs of Mozote.”

This crucified people is the historical continuation of the servant of Yahweh, the one from whom the sin of the world continues to strip all human features, from whom the powers of this world continue to steal all — taking everything — even life itself, above all life.

The crucified people are there. Sometimes we see them on television, but in reality they don’t get much attention. They are not known. Everything is done to hide them so that our western and bourgeois tranquility is not disturbed.

Nothing is more important than to really hear the voice of God that, with indescribable moans or loud cries, calls us to see the open wounds of universal injustice.

It is possible that some feel that presence too obscure or that voice too far away and weak. These poor souls! They are so far from God. And those who crucify [the people] constitute the beast of the Apocalypse. And those who make themselves deaf and blind, because to them this does not seem to be a religious problem, they are the lukewarm whom God, disgusted, has spit out of his mouth.

Such atrocities have not stopped. The poor and civilians continue to be killed. When will we followers of Christ denounce them with clear voices, even when – as in this case – the massacre was the work of a battalion trained by US advisors and supported by US funding and when the US refused to acknowledge the reality of the killings?


This is one way to announce a year of favor for the Lord and a day of vindication by our God.

For more information:

As of this morning, Tim’s El Salvador Blog has at least seven entries on the massacre. Click to go to the entry:

Mozote massacre – 30 years later

Rufina Amaya – El Mozote survivor

El Mozote – Reporters

El Mozote – US role

El Mozote – seeking justice

President Funes meets with El Mozote victims

El Mozote – rebirth of hope

There is also a five year old video on You-tube: here


One response to “Denouncing the massacre of El Mozote

  1. One of the strange bits of scripture is Hebrews 2:10, which says that Jesus was made perfect through suffering. We think of Jesus as perfect, completely sinless, but this passage challenges us to see Him as fully human. At the very least, He had broken the Law by healing on the Sabbath. And in Mathew 12:48, He refused to honor His own mother. So, at least in these ways– but perhaps in others–He was imperfect until He suffered.

    Everyone who follows Him is crucified and transformed by suffering. We become part of the suffering body. Some, like the people senselessly murdered in El Mozote, endured the most difficult of crucifixions and will be raised the highest. If our life has not led us into suffering, we can be fairly certain we are on the wrong road.

    Peace, and one day joy, to the people of Central America, who have borne the sins of America in their flesh.

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