IN a small, hot room behind the campus chapel, people solemnly
shuffle past a macabre collection of memorabilia: photos of corpses
lying on the university lawn, ripped Bible study books, and six jars
containing soil soaked with blood.
There is also a photo of a footprint made by a United States
One year after the murders of six priests, their cook, and her
daughter here at the Jesuit-run Jose Simeon Canas University of
Central America (UCA), the killings not only remain a powerful
symbol for Salvadorans, but are also pivotal to US policy here.
Eight Salvadoran Army soldiers and one officer, members of a
crack US-trained team, are awaiting trial, expected within a month
or two. Hanging on the outcome of this trial - and on the perception
of whether or not justice has been done - is a 10-year, $4 billion
investment by the US in El Salvador.
This case, coinciding as it does with the ebbing of the cold war
and of Soviet backing for leftist insurgencies, may mark the start
of a US withdrawal from the region, US officials admit.
"This case is a litmus test of El Salvador's pretensions to
democracy and claim on US aid," says Jim McGovern, an aide to US
Rep. Joe Moakley (D) of Massachusetts.
Mr. Moakley was a key player in the 50 percent cut in US military
aid signed into law earlier this month. The high command of the
Salvadoran military has been accused in a US House of
Representatives' task force report of "a conspiracy to obstruct
justice in the Jesuit case." Restoration of the aid is conditioned
upon a thorough investigation of the killings, as well as good faith
peace negotiations between the Army and Marxist rebels.
Leftist rebels claimed Friday to have killed 14 soldiers in
fighting in eastern El Salvador on the anniversary of the murders.
The rebels acknowledged that one of their local commanders died
during "fierce fighting" that started Wednesday and lasted until
late Thursday near San Agustin, 46 miles east of the capital in the
province of Usulatan. A spokesman for the Armed Forces Press
Committee confirmed there was fighting in the area but said he had
no casualty figures.
Meanwhile, in San Salvador, several thousand people and 150
priests attended Friday ceremonies commemorating the slayings.
"We can't have democracy if we don't have justice," says Jose Raul
Rivas, a unionist participating in a torchlight commemoration march
through the capital. …