Madison, Wisconsin. El Salvador’s “peace” and postwar Democratic transition has been built on a precarious house of cards. The General Amnesty Law “forgives” human rights violations committed by both the left and the right during the civil war of 1980-1992. Rightwing paramilitary death squad leaders have never been held accountable for murders, disappearances and tortures of thousands of civilians or for the most notorious atrocities of the war including the massacres of El Sumpul, El Mozote, and the murders of the UCA Jesuit professors, their housekeeper and her daughter. At the same time, members of the leftist FMLN government including current Vice-President and 2014 presidential hopeful, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, and Head of National Emergency Management, Jorge Melendez, have been accused of Human Rights Violations that resulted largely from internal conflicts and purges within the left.
Power holders on both the left and the right have a stake in making sure that the 1993 General Amnesty Law stays in place. Without top-down motivation to revisit the Amnesty, NGOs and Human Rights groups have stepped up recently to challenge the constitutionality of a General Amnesty and brought a formal case against the legality of the Law to the Salvadoran Supreme Court just last week. When records of countless Human Rights violations were blocked on orders from Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas suddenly yesterday, many Salvadorans suspected that the move was tied to the recent challenge to the Amnesty. VOCES Digital Journal reports that on Monday morning September 30th thirteen workers at the Legal Tutelage Office arrived at work to find their offices locked and security blocking access to invaluable records dating back to the civil war of the 80s. The workers were fired without any explanation or prior warning. The Legal Tutelage Office was founded shortly after the Assassination of Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero in 1980 to protect victims of the armed conflict and to promote human rights in El Salvador. The Legal Tutelage Office holds historical documentation and records of Human Rights violations that are critical to the case against the legality of the General Amnesty Law brought last week to the Supreme Court of Justice of El Salvador.
A public protest was scheduled for today at noon in front of the Office of the Archbishop in San Salvador.