Salvador's Grievous Loss Truth Commission Finds Violations of Human Rights in El Salvador, with an Overwhelming Number of Instances Linked to the Military

By Mark O. Hatfield. Sen. Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon is the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. | The Christian Science Monitor, March 31, 1993 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Salvador's Grievous Loss Truth Commission Finds Violations of Human Rights in El Salvador, with an Overwhelming Number of Instances Linked to the Military


Mark O. Hatfield. Sen. Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon is the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee., The Christian Science Monitor


A SPANISH Jesuit once remarked, "It is harder to tell the truth than to hide it." An important component of the United Nations-sponsored peace agreement for El Salvador was fulfilled March 15 when the three-member Commission on the Truth issued its report on what it called "some of the worst and most widespread violations of human rights in El Salvador." To nobody's surprise, the UN Commission found that the overwhelming majority of the cases studied, involving some 18,000 victims, were linked to the Sal vadoran military.

In the wake of the Commission's report, those who tried for more than 10 years to hide the truth about the record of the Salvadoran military now want to bury it by granting amnesty to the accused. By ignoring the crying need for justice in the human rights abuse cases investigated by the Truth Commission, El Salvador's political leadership may cause permanent damage to the reconciliation effort.

It is time to stop rewarding the brutal and the corrupt. Twelve years and $6 billion in United States aid later, it is time to learn and understand the truth. Those who spread tyranny and death throughout El Salvador for 10 years should not be protected under the umbrella of peace. The Salvadoran National Assembly seeks to do this with its passage of legislation providing general amnesty for those who are named by the Commission on the Truth. Ruben Zamora, the vice president of the Assembly, walked out o n the vote, proclaiming that "justice must come before forgiving and forgetting."

The stakes are high for US foreign policy. The members of the Truth Commission, Belisario Betancur, former Colombian president; Reinaldo Figueredo Planchart, former foreign minister of Venezuela; and Thomas Buergenthal, professor of law at George Washington University, have boldly and bravely identified by name the military leadership responsible for atrocities such as the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the killing of four American churchwomen, and the murder of six Jesuits, their cook , and her daughter. The Truth Commission has confirmed what many of us have believed for a long time: The US was bankrolling the Salvador military at a time when it was killing with impunity.

Those who continue to justify the role of the US in the Salvadoran civil war take several lines of defense. Many involved in Latin American policy through the 1980s claim ignorance of what was happening around them. Others skip over the bloody history, preferring to argue that the cost of not being involved would have been greater. We cannot accept either excuse in light of the truth. For a decade the US was willing to allow its policy to be shaped by the dictum that the "ends justify the means." This mi sguided policy must be abandoned.

The civil war in El Salvador brought no gains or freedom to the Salvadoran people.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Salvador's Grievous Loss Truth Commission Finds Violations of Human Rights in El Salvador, with an Overwhelming Number of Instances Linked to the Military
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?