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PromotingHumanRightsandHealingintheWakeofCivilWarinElSalvador

TaskForce2015

Instructor:AngelinaGodoy
GraduateAssistant:AlexMontalvo
LeadEditor:EunSeon(Jessica)Kim
ResearchCoordinator:KasumiMaeda
CommunicationsCoordinator:ShannaLarson
LeadVideoEditor:SimonFox
EmmaMahboub
JasonSolis
JasperTrujillo-Lindstrom
NicoleEinbinder
SarahFoster
VincentLee

SpecialThanksto:
AsociacinPro-Bsqueda
LorenzoMedinaZamora
ReinaHernandez
EsterMonterolaL
pez
MilagroMartnez
AmparoSalinas
MartaArias
SalvadorGarcaMestizo
Hon.FranciscoAltschul
UniversityofWashingtonCenterforHumanRights

Chapters:
1. Introduction
2. TheForcedDisappearancesofChildrenduringtheSalvadoranCivilWar
3. USInvolvementintheSalvadorancivilwar:Timelineof1980-1982
4. TheMassacreatLasCanoas
5. TheMassacreatLaQuesera:TimelinefromSeptember14toOctober30,1981
6. Maps
7. Bibliography

Introduction
Duringwinterquarterof2015,thistaskforcewithintheHenryM.JacksonSchoolof
InternationalStudiesattheUniversityofWashingtonsetouttodocumentthestoryoftwocivil
wareramassacresinElSalvadorLasCanoasandLaQuesera.IncollaborationwithAsociacin
Pro-Bsqueda,alocalNGObasedoutofElSalvador,theUnfinishedSentences,theUniversity
ofWashingtonsHumanRightsCentersbranchforElSalvador,andundertheinstructionof
TaskForceInstructorProfessorAngelinaGodoyandGraduateAssistantAlexMontalvo,ateam
oftenundergraduatestudentsconductedvigorousresearchonthetwomassacresandthecontext.
TheteamtraveledtoElSalvadorforeightdaysofintensiveprimaryresearchandvideo
documentationsurroundingthestoriesofsevensurvivorsofthesetwomassacres.Alongwiththe
first-everofficialdocumentationoftheseatrocities,thistaskforcehasproducedtwoshort
videos,bothofwhichdocumentthestoriesofsurvivorsandtheirsearchfortheirforcibly
disappearedfamilymembers,aswellasAsociacinPro-Bsquedasworktohelpreunitethese
families.Thefollowingisthewrittendocumentationofthesemassacres.

TheForcedDisappearanceofChildrenduringtheSalvadoranCivilWar

ThroughouttheSalvadorancivilwar,thousandsofchildrenwereforciblydisappearedby
agentsoftheSalvadoranstate.Manyweredeliberatelyseizedfromtheirfamiliesotherswere
separatedinthecontextofaninvasion,takenintocustodybytroops,andthenhandedoverto
otherinstitutions.Yet,isclearthatthiswasadeliberatecomponentofthestates
counterinsurgencystrategy,farfromanisolatedpractice.TheSalvadorangovernmentusedchild
disappearancesandotherhumanrightsviolationsasatacticofterrortoinstilfearinthepeople.12
AccordingtoRafaelCalles,theinvestigationscoordinatorforAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,
abductingchildrenwasawayofeasingtheconsciencesofthetroops,asitwasdemoralizingto
killchildrenandsafertohavechildrenonthesideofthegovernmentthantheguerrillas.3
Becauseofthis,manychildrenweredemandedtobehandedoverortakenawayforciblyby
militaryofficers,whileotherchildrenwerelostwhentheirfamilymemberswerekilledor
disappeared.4
Inanefforttopullthechildrenawayfromtheirallegedlycommunistparents,themilitary
oftentimeshandedthemovertotheRedCrossafterkidnappingthechildren.5TheRedCross
wouldthenplacethesechildreninorphanagesorothercarearrangements.6Thesecare

LauraBriggs,
SomebodysChildren:ThePoliticsofTransracialandTransnationalAdoption(Durham,North
Carolina:DukeUniversityPress,2012):161
2
UnitedStatesDepartmentofJusticeExecutiveOfficeforImmigrationReviewImmigrationCourtMiami,Florida.In
thematterof:JoseGuillermoGarca-Merino,Removalproceedings.ExpertReportofProfessorTerryL.Karl.
3
SteveFainaru,"ACountryAwakestotheRealityofitsDisappearedChildren,"
BostonGlobe,July14,1996,
http://search.proquest.com/docview/290790802/1C3A9B4BBA794210PQ/4?accountid=14784.
4
PHRAttendsReunionofFamilySeparatedbyCivilWarinElSalvador,
PhysiciansforHumanRights,n.d.,
http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/press/press-releases/news-2007-04-04.html
.ReunitingFamiliesSeparatedby
War,
PhysiciansforHumanRights,n.d.,
http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/about/impact/reuniting-families-separated-by-war.html.
5
JudithL.GibbonsandKarenSmith.Rotabi,
Intercountryadoption:policies,practices,andoutcomes(Farnham
Burlington,VT:Ashgate,2012):304
6
Ibid.

arrangementsincludedbeingraisedinastateorprivatelyrunresidentialinstitution,being
adoptedthroughillegalagreementsbyanadoptivefamilyinElSalvador,beingtakentoa
militarybasewheretheyweretrainedasassistants7orsoldiers,orbeingadopted
internationally.8
Aboutfiftyorganizationsoperatedtotakecareoftheseplacementsduringthecivilwar,
withouteffectivegovernmentsupervision.9Forexample,SanJosdelaMontana,aCatholic
seminaryinSanSalvador,housedapproximately1,000adultsandchildrendisplacedfrom
ruralareas.10Thesepeoplelivedtogetherinlargecommunaltinbuildingsandshacks
characterizedbypoorsanitationandshortageofbasicresourceslikefoodduetoovercrowding.11
AbductedchildrenwhowerelabeledasorphanswereimmediatelyplacedinChild
ProtectiveCenterstolocatethefamilyandrelativesduringastipulatedperiodoftime,12after
whichtheybecameeligibletobeconsideredforadoption.Yet,themajorityofthesechildrenhad
beenfalselylabeledasorphanssothattheycouldbesenttofatteningupcentersandplaced
withfamiliesabroad,especiallyintheUnitedStates.13Manyofthesechildrendidnothave
personaldocuments,suchasbirthcertificates,sotheywereregisteredwithfalseidentitiesthat

SteveFainaru,"ACountryAwakestotheRealityofitsDisappearedChildren,"
BostonGlobe,July14,1996,
http://search.proquest.com/docview/290790802/1C3A9B4BBA794210PQ/4?accountid=14784.
8
JudithL.GibbonsandKarenSmith.Rotabi,
Intercountryadoption:policies,practices,andoutcomes(Farnham
Burlington,VT:Ashgate,2012).KarenSmithRotabi.2014."Childadoptionandwar:Livingdisappearedchildren
andthesocialworkerspost-conflictroleinElSalvadorandArgentina."
InternationalSocialWork57,no.2:169-180.
9
JudithL.GibbonsandKarenSmith.Rotabi,
Intercountryadoption:policies,practices,andoutcomes(Farnham
Burlington,VT:Ashgate,2012).ChristineLagstom,TheDisappearedChildrenofElSalvadorafieldstudyoftruth,
justiceandreparation(Masterthesis,UniversityofLund,2005),24.
10
CarmenElenaAyalaCanales,TheImpactofElSalvadorsCivilWaronOrphanandRefugeeChildren(Thesis,
UniversityofCaliforniaDavis,1982).
11
Ibid.
12
Ibid.
13
UnitedStatesDepartmentofJusticeExecutiveOfficeforImmigrationReviewImmigrationCourtMiami,Florida.In
thematterof:JoseGuillermoGarca-Merino,Removalproceedings.ExpertReportofProfessorTerryL.Karl.

eradicatedthechildsidentityandrightstotheirbiologicalfamily.14Originally,creatingfalse
documentationwastoallowchildrentohaveaccesstohealthcareandschooling,butitsoon
becameaninstrumentforchildtraffickingascorruptlawyers,militaryinstitutions,and
governmentofficialsfalsifieddocumentstoallowtheabductionandtraffickingofchildrenfor
transnationaladoptions.15Thesechildrenreceivednewbirthdates,birthplaces,andparents
names,whichnotonlyallowedwell-meaningAmericansandEuropeanstoadoptSalvadoran
childrenwhosebackgroundswereneveradequatelychecked16butcomplicatesthesearchfor
themtoday.17Manytraffickedchildrenweretoldthattheirfamilieshadabandonedthemtojoin
theguerrilla,makingthemfeelunwanted.18Thisdissolvedmanyadoptedchildrensdesireto
findtheirbirthfamilies,whoarestilldesperatelysearchingfortheirchildren,hinderingpotential
reunificationofmanyfamilies.19
Duringthistime,adoptionwasprivatizedbetweentheUnitedStatesandLatinAmerica,
whiletheabsenceofagenciesopeneddoorstoprofitmaking.20Evidencehasshownthatsome
lawyershavechargedupto$20,000fortheadoptionofachild,21anexceptionallyhighamount

14

ChristineLagstom,TheDisappearedChildrenofElSalvadorafieldstudyoftruth,justiceandreparation(Master
thesis,UniversityofLund,2005),24.
15
Ibid.
16
SteveFainaru,"ACountryAwakestotheRealityofitsDisappearedChildren,"
BostonGlobe,July14,1996,
http://search.proquest.com/docview/290790802/1C3A9B4BBA794210PQ/4?accountid=14784.
17
ChristineLagstom,TheDisappearedChildrenofElSalvadorafieldstudyoftruth,justiceandreparation(Master
thesis,UniversityofLund,2005),24.
18
Ibid.
19
Ibid.
20
LauraBriggs,
SomebodysChildren:ThePoliticsofTransracialandTransnationalAdoption(Durham,North
Carolina:DukeUniversityPress,2012):162ChristineLagstom,TheDisappearedChildrenofElSalvadorafield
studyoftruth,justiceandreparation(Masterthesis,UniversityofLund,2005),24.
21
UnitedStatesDepartmentofJusticeExecutiveOfficeforImmigrationReviewImmigrationCourtMiami,Florida.
Inthematterof:JoseGuillermoGarca-Merino,Removalproceedings.ExpertReportofProfessorTerryL.Karl.
SteveFainaru,"ACountryAwakestotheRealityofitsDisappearedChildren,"
BostonGlobe,July14,1996,
http://search.proquest.com/docview/290790802/1C3A9B4BBA794210PQ/4?accountid=14784.

ofmoneyintheextremepovertyofElSalvador.22Priortothe1950s,unaccompaniedchildren
wereadmittedtotheUnitedStateswithrefugeevisas,butastheCIAandUSmilitarybecame
moreinvolvedintheproxywarsthroughoutLatinAmerica,theUSStateDepartment
increasinglymadevisasavailabletoorphans.23Orphansweredefinedaschildrenwhose
parentshaddied,abandoned,orrelinquishedthem,whichwaseasytoprovewiththeuseof
falsifieddocumentation.24Byremovingthequestionofrefugeestatusofthechildrenwitha
technicaldefinitionfororphan,theUSStateDepartmentemptiedthequestionofvisasfor
adopteesofmostofitspoliticalcontent.25
Approximately2,354SalvadoranchildrenwereadoptedintotheUnitedStatesduringthe
SalvadoranCivilWar.26Between1973and1983,thenumberofintercountryadoptionstothe
UnitedStatesdoubled,withthemajorityofchildrencomingfromLatinAmericancountrieslike
ElSalvador.27
AsociacinPro-Bsqueda,aSalvadoranNGO,hasbeenworkingtoreunitefamiliesthat
wereseparatedduringthecivilwar.IthasfoundSalvadoranchildrenallovertheworld,

22

JudithL.GibbonsandKarenSmith.Rotabi,
Intercountryadoption:policies,practices,andoutcomes(Farnham
Burlington,VT:Ashgate,2012).
23
LauraBriggs,
SomebodysChildren:ThePoliticsofTransracialandTransnationalAdoption(Durham,North
Carolina:DukeUniversityPress,2012).
24
LauraBriggs,
SomebodysChildren:ThePoliticsofTransracialandTransnationalAdoption(Durham,North
Carolina:DukeUniversityPress,2012).JudithL.GibbonsandKarenSmith.Rotabi,
Intercountryadoption:policies,
practices,andoutcomes(FarnhamBurlington,VT:Ashgate,2012).
25
LauraBriggs,
SomebodysChildren:ThePoliticsofTransracialandTransnationalAdoption(Durham,North
Carolina:DukeUniversityPress,2012):161
26
ReunitingFamiliesSeparatedbyWar,
PhyiciansforHumanRights,n.d.,
http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/about/impact/reuniting-families-separated-by-war.html
.U.S.TeamTransfers
DNADatabasetoSalvadoranGroupSearchingforChildrenWhoDisappearedinCivilWar,accessedJanuary21,
2015,http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/29687.SteveFainaru,"ACountryAwakestotheRealityofitsDisappeared
Children,"
BostonGlobe,July14,1996,
http://search.proquest.com/docview/290790802/1C3A9B4BBA794210PQ/4?accountid=14784.
27
LauraBriggs,
SomebodysChildren:ThePoliticsofTransracialandTransnationalAdoption(Durham,North
Carolina:DukeUniversityPress,2012):161

successfullyreunitingover200families,28butmanyunsolvedcasesremain.Belowisabrief
overviewoftheirendeavors.
AsociacinPro-Bsqueda
AlthoughtheUnitedNationssponsoredaTruthCommissiontodecipherthechaosofthe
SalvadoranCivilWar,onlyafractionofvictimswereheard.In1993,aJesuitpriest
namedJonCortinapublishedthetestimoniesoffivemotherswhosawtheirchildrenbe
carriedoffbythemilitary,butnoneofthesestorieswereincludedintheUNTruth
Commission.29Seeingthis,CortinaestablishedAsociacinPro-BsquedadeNiasy
NiosDesaparecidosinAugust1994.
March1st,2005:Pro-BsquedawonacaseattheInter-AmericanCourtofHuman
Rights.ThecourtcondemnedtheSalvadorangovernmentinthecaseoftheSerranoCruz
sisters,whowerekidnappedatgunpointandneverseenagain.Initsdefense,the
Salvadorangovernmenthadsuggestedthatthegirlsneverexisted.30
2007:Pro-Bsquedaaccompaniedfamiliesoffourteendisappearedchildrenbeforethe
ConstitutionalChamberoftheSupremeCourtofJusticetomakeelevenclaimsofHabeas
Corpustoinvestigatethefateoftheirchildren.TheSupremeCourtfavorablyresolved
fouroftheelevendemands,recognizinghabeascorpusasalegalmechanismapplicable
totheforceddisappearanceofpersons.However,investigationshavebeenineffectiveas
theydidnotidentifythoseresponsiblefortheacts,muchlesstoprovidethewhereabouts
ofanyofthedisappearedchildren.31
October2010:Pro-Bsquedahelpedfamiliespresenttwopiecesofcorrespondencetothe
CommitteeonJusticeandHumanRightsoftheLegislativeAssemblysoitcouldadvise
theAttorneyGeneraloftheRepubliconitsobligationtofulfillitsobligationto
investigatethedisappearances.32
AsofMarch2015,Pro-Bsquedahasreceived934missingchildrenreportsmorethan
200havereunitedwiththeirbiologicalfamilies,over100havebeenlocated,and55have
resultedinaconclusionthatthechilddied.33Thisleavesabout580casesunresolved,or
approximately62%oftheSalvadoranchildrenreporteddisappeared.

28

IntervieweeEduardo
Garca
,InterviewbyAlexMontalvo,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,February18,20
15.
LauraBriggs,
SomebodysChildren:ThePoliticsofTransracialandTransnationalAdoption(Durham,North
Carolina:DukeUniversityPress,2012):174
30
Ibid,177-8
31
AsociacinPro-Bsqueda,
VctimasdemandaninvestigardesaparicionesdurantelaMasacredeLaQuesera,
accessed
January8,2015.
http://www.probusqueda.org.sv/victimas-demandan-investigar-a-la-fiscalia-general-de-la-republica-el-paradero-de-losninos-y-ninas-desaparecidos-durante-la-masacre-de-la-quesera/.
32
Ibid.
33
IntervieweeEduardo
Garca
,InterviewbyAlexMontalvo,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,February18,20
15.

29

USInvolvementintheSalvadorancivilwar:Timelineof1980-1982

TheUSgovernmentprovidedsubstantialassistancetothegovernmentofElSalvador,
sendingatleast$4billioninaidduringthecivilwarthatspannedfrom1980to1992.34This
occurreddespitethewidespreadcommissionofatrocitiesbytheSalvadoranmilitaryandsecurity
forces.
Manyoftheseabusesweredownplayedordenied
bytheUSgovernment.Thispractice
hasitsrootsinthefactthattheUSCongresshadtiedmilitaryaidtohumanrightsimprovements,
thuscompellingtheadministrationtodenytheexistenceofabusesinordertomaintainaflowof
USassistance.35
Notallabuseswerecarriedoutbystateforces.Shadowydeathsquadsusedtechniques
suchassmoked-glasswindowsandvehicleswithoutlicenseplatestoseize,interrogate,and
torturepeoplewhohadundesirablepoliticalviews.36Thesedeathsquadsoperatedina
"systematicandorganizedmanner"between1980and1991,whilethe"clandestinenature"of
deathsquadactivityallowedstateresponsibilitytoremainhidden.37USofficialsduringthistime
insistedthatdeathsquadswereindependent,roguebandsthathadnoconnectiontothearmed
forcesandgovernment.38However,AmnestyInternationalfoundthat[i]ntheearly1980s,
membersofthesecurityforcesrepeatedlyviolatedthehumanrightsoftheirfellowcitizensand
wereunquestionablyinvolvedinwidespreaddeathsquadactivities.39

34

AmericasWatchCommittee.
ElSalvadorsDecadeofTerror:HumanRightsSinceTheAssassinationofArchbishop
Romero(NewHaven:YaleUniversityPress,1991):141.
35
Ibid,125.
36
Ibid,20-24.
37
CynthiaArnson,DavidHoliday,andLisaEdwards."ElSalvador:AccountabilityandHumanRights:TheReportof
theUnitedNationsCommissionontheTruthforElSalvador."EditedbyJuanMndez.
AmericasWatch5,no.7
(1993).
38
AmnestyInternationalU.S.A,TestimonyonElSalvador,toTheSubcommitteeonInter-AmericanAffairsofthe
CommitteeonForeignAffairsoftheU.S.HouseofRepresentatives,HearingsonMarch5&11,1981:146.
39
Ibid.

TheAtlacatlBattalionwasoneoffiveeliterapid-responsebattalionscreatedand
specificallytrainedbyUSadviserswhoweredrawnprimarilyfromtheSpecialForces.40Itwas
oneofthemostnotoriousviolatorsofhumanrightsthroughoutthearmedconflict,41thoughits
troopsoftenworkedincoordinationwithotherunits.
TheSalvadoranarmedconflictwascharacterizedbymultiplephases,butthedarkest
periodwastheinitialtwoyears,intermsofthesystematicandseeminglyunrelenting
commissionofhumanrightsatrocities.BelowisatimelineoftheUSinvolvementinElSalvador
duringthistime,whenthemassacresatLasCanoasandLaQueseraoccurredandthenumberof
politicalkillingsreachedapeak.42
1980
October8:AUSStateDepartmentofficialstatesthattheUnitedStateshasbegantotrain
militaryofficersinElSalvadorinaprogramemphasizingtheobservanceofhuman
rights.43ItislaterfoundthattheSchooloftheAmericas,aUSgovernment-fundedschool
previouslylocatedinPanama,ismovedtoFortBenning,Georgia,wheremorethan
60,000LatinAmericansoldiersandpolicemenaretrained.44Two-thirdsofthosenamed
intheUNTruthCommissionreportforElSalvadorforhavingcommittedtheworst
atrocitiesduringthecivilwararegraduatesoftheSchooloftheAmericas.45Theschool
usesUSArmyintelligencemanuals,whichadvocatesexecutions,torture,blackmail,and
otherformsofcoercionagainstinsurgents,totrainLatinAmericanmilitaryofficersand

40

AmericasWatchCommittee,"ElSalvadorTheMassacreatElMozote:TheNeedtoRemember,"
Newsfrom
AmericasWatch4,no.2(1992):12,http://www.hrw.org/reports/pdfs/e/elsalvdr/elsalv923.pdf.
41
ResponsibleforthemostinfamousmassacreinElSalvador,theElMozoteMassacre,whichresultedinover1,000
deaths
42
AmericasWatchCommittee.
ElSalvadorsDecadeofTerror:HumanRightsSinceTheAssassinationofArchbishop
Romero(NewHaven:YaleUniversityPress,1991).
43
U.S.TrainingSalvadoranOfficersinaProgramStressingHumanRights,accessedJanuary21,2015,
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9E00E2D81F3BE732A2575AC0A9669D94619FD6CF.
44
GeorgeMonbiot,BackyardTerrorism,
TheGuardian,October29,2001,
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/30/afghanistan
.terrorism19.DanaPriest,U.S.InstructedLatinsOn
Executions,TortureManualsUsed1982-91,PentagonReveals,
TheWashingtonPost,September21,1996,
http://www.lexisnexis.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/hottopics/lnacademic/?verb=sr&csi=8075.
45
GeorgeMonbiot,BackyardTerrorism,
TheGuardian,October29,2001,
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/30/afghanistan.terrorism19.

10

todistributetothousandsofmilitaryofficersfrom11SouthandCentralAmerican
countries,includingElSalvador.46
47
October8:ThemassacreatLasCanoasoccurs,resultinginthedeathof23people, and
atleast2casesofchilddisappearances.These2childrenwerefoundintheUS,and
reunificationwiththeirmotherisplannedinJune2015.
December2:FourUSchurchwomenarepickedup,sexuallyabused,andkilledby
NationalGuardsmenafterleavingtheairport,andUSsuspendsitsmilitaryandeconomic
aidwhentheirbodiesarediscovered.48
December17:TheCarterAdministrationclaimsthattheSalvadorangovernmentis
investigatingonthemurderofthechurchwomenandrestoresUSeconomicaid.49
USStateDepartmentrepliestoconcernsraisedbyAmnestyInternationaltotheCarter
administrationabouttheUSroleinallegedhumanrightsviolations,inwhichthe
departmentstatesthatassistanceisaimedatenhancingtheprofessionalismofthearmed
forces.50
InthisyearofthemassacreofLasCanoas,
theCarteradministrationgivesElSalvador
51
fifteenmilliondollarsinwar-relatedaid.

1981
January14:Inresponsetotheincreasingguerrillaoffensive,PresidentCarterrestores
militaryaid.52Fivedayslater,heinvokesspecialexecutiveauthoritytosend$5millionin
emergencymilitaryaidtoElSalvador.53

46

DanaPriest,U.S.InstructedLatinsOnExecutions,TortureManualsUsed1982-91,PentagonReveals,
The
WashingtonPost,September21,1996,
http://www.lexisnexis.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/hottopics/lnacademic/?verb=sr&csi=8075.
47
JuanCarlosBarahona,FamiliaresdeVctimasdeConflictoArmadoDenuncianaFGREnSantaAna,
LaPrensa
Grfica,October8,2010,
http://www.laprensagrafica.com/el-salvador/lodeldia/145655-familiares-de-victimas-de-conflicto-armado-denuncian-afgr-en-santa-ana
GloriaMorn,MasacredeLasCanoas,DobleDolor,
DiarioDigitalContraPunto,ElSalvador,
CentralAmerican,November24,2012,
http://www.contrapunto.com.sv/ddhh/masacre-de-las-canoas-doble-dolor

BeatrizCastillo,ElSalvador:FamiliaresdeLaMasacredeSantaAnaPidenLaEntregadeLosRestosseos,
El
Ututo,December6,2012.
http://elututopolitico.blogspot.com/2012/12/el-salvador-familiares-de-la-masacre-de.html

IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
48
AmericasWatchCommittee.
ElSalvadorsDecadeofTerror:HumanRightsSinceTheAssassinationofArchbishop
Romero(NewHaven:YaleUniversityPress,1991):144.
49
Ibid.
50
AmnestyInternational.AnnualReport,AmnestyInternational,1981:ElSalvadorin
ElSalvadorPacket.1982,
141.
51
Lungo,Mario,andArthurSchmidt.
ElSalvadorintheEighties:CounterinsurgencyandRevolution.Philadelphia:
TempleUniversityPress,1996.18.
52
AmericasWatchCommittee.
ElSalvadorsDecadeofTerror:HumanRightsSinceTheAssassinationofArchbishop
Romero(NewHaven:YaleUniversityPress,1991):145.
53
Ibid.

11

March2:TheStateDepartmentannounces$20millioninemergencyfundsforEl
Salvadoraswellas500-lbbombs,grenadelaunchers,helicoptergunships,fragmentation
grenades,andmortars.54
May11:AmnestyInternationalsSecretaryGeneralThomasHammarbergwritestoUS
SecretaryofStateAlexanderHaig,sayingthattherecentUSaidtoElSalvadorwill
likelysupportthecontinuationofhumanrightsabuses,notingspecificincidentsofabuse
ofvariouspopulations.TheletterurgesU.S.governmenttoendmilitaryassistancetothe
juntacurrentlyinpower,sincethefundsarefuelinghumanrightsabuses.Italsourgesthe
governmenttoincreasetransparencyandpublicizeclearevidencethattheaidisnotbeing
usedtocontributetosuchabuses.55Despitethiswarning,thelettersenttoAmnesty
InternationalfromClarkonlyfocusesontheUSperspectiveandhencefailstoprovidea
legitimatereasonforcontinuingaidtoElSalvador.56
October17:DayspriortothestartoftheLaQueseramassacre,twomajorsoftheUS
ArmyCorpsofEngineers,oneUSmilitaryadvisorandaUScivilianengineerwiththe
AgencyforInternationalDevelopment,flyintotheareaviahelicoptertoinspectbridge
damage.57Whileaboardthehelicopter,theywitnesstheSalvadoranpilotopeningfireon
agroupofSalvadoranpeasants.TheSalvadoranmilitarylaterclaimsthatthehelicopter
58
wasshotatfromtheground, butthetwoUSofficersonboardclaimthattherewasno
59
groundfire. TheUSembassysaysthattheDefenseMinistryisholdingthepilotwhois
60
accusedforshootingcivilians.
October20:TheLaQueseramassacreoccurs,resultingin350to500deaths61and
disappearanceoftwenty-fourchildrenandthirty-sixwomen.62TheAtlacatlBattalionis
oneoftheperpetratorsofthemassacrethatlastsapproximatelytendays.
December11:TheElMozoteMassacreresultsinthedeathofaboutonethousand
civiliansatthehandsoftheAtlacatlBattalionoverthecourseofapproximatelytendays.
63
Thevastmajorityofbulletcasingsfoundattheexhumationofthemassacrehas
54

RobertoAlvarezetal.,AReportonHumanRightsinElSalvador,194.
AmnestyInternational,"LettertoUSSecretaryofStateAlexanderHaigonPossibleImpactofUnitedStatesMilitary
AssistancetoElSalvadoronAIConcernsinthatCountry,"
ElSalvadorPacket,May11,1981.
56
RobertoAlvarezetal.,AReportonHumanRightsinElSalvador,195.
57
OroBridgeDestructionOperationDescribed,ManaguaBarricada,November231981DelaLocuraala
Esperanza:LaGuerradelosDoceAosenElSalvador:InformedelaComisindelaVerdadparaElSalvador",
EditorialUniversitaria,UniversidaddeElSalvador,SanSalvador,Mayode1993.
58
JamesNelsonGoodsell,GuerrillasPushCentralAmericanCountriesintoMilitaryCooperation,
ChristianScience
Monitor,November51981.
59
Helicopte
rIncident
.ConfidentialDepartmentofStatetelegram.October22,1981.
60
SalvadoranCommandosLaunchMajorOffensive,
GlobeandMail,October291981.
61
UnitedStatesDepartmentofJusticeExecutiveOfficeforImmigrationReviewImmigrationCourtMiami,Florida.In
thematterof:JoseGuillermoGarca-Merino,Removalproceedings.ExpertReportofProfessorTerryL.Karl.Tutela
LegaldelArzobispado.ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),4.
62
SolidaridadBoletinInternacional,SocorroJuridicoDelArzobispado,November30,1981.
63
AmericasWatchCommittee.
ElSalvadorsDecadeofTerror:HumanRightsSinceTheAssassinationofArchbishop
Romero(NewHaven:YaleUniversityPress,1991):49.
55

12

markingsindicatingthattheyaremanufacturedintheUnitedStates,revealingthe
countrysinvolvementinprovidingweaponstotheBattalion.64
TheUSEmbassyreleasesadocumentthatcitesadecreaseinthenumberofpeople
subjectedtopoliticalmurdersfrom1980to1981asanindicationofadownwardtrendof
politicalviolence.Infact,theviolencehasshiftedfromSanSalvador,wheredetailed
reportsaremade,intothecountryside,wherereportsareoftenabsent.Reportstothe
StateDepartmentfromtheUSEmbassyacknowledgethesediscrepancies.However,they
areomittedfromtheUScountryreportsofElSalvadorwhenclaimsofdecreased
violencearemade.65
1982
January28:TheReaganAdministrationcertifiesthatElSalvadorhascompliedwith
humanrightsconditionsandisthereforequalifiedtoreceivemilitaryaid.66
July27th:TheReaganadministrationre-certifiesElSalvadorscompliancewithhuman
rightsconditionsandcontinuesmilitaryassistance,butthiscertificationisvetoedthe
followingyear.67

64

ElSalvadorAccountabilityandHumanRights:TheReportoftheUnitedNationsCommissionontheTruthforEl
Salvador5,no.7(August10,1993),
http://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/pdfs/e/elsalvdr/elsalv938.pdf
:18
65
AmericasWatch,HelsinkiWatch,LawyersCommitteeforInternationalHumanRightsACritiqueofthe
DepartmentofStatesCountryReportsonHumanRightsPracticesfor1981(1982):11-12.
66
AmericasWatchCommittee.
ElSalvadorsDecadeofTerror:HumanRightsSinceTheAssassinationofArchbishop
Romero(NewHaven:YaleUniversityPress,1991):146-7.
67
Ibid.

13

TheMassacreatLasCanoas

ThehamletofLasCanoasisinthevillageofElPinalito,orFincadePinalito,15
68

kilometersfromthecityofSantaAna. OnOctober8th,1980,atthispeaceful,remotearea,a
groupofabouttwentyarmedmenfromtheNationalGuard,SalvadoranArmy,andgovernment
sympathizers69attackedahousewhere70-80peoplehadgatheredtodistributefoodandclothes.
70

71

Twenty-three peoplewerereporteddeadintheaftermathtenwomen,ninemen,andfour
73

whoarestillunidentified.72Fourwomenandsevenchildrenwerereportedinjured, andatleast
74

twocasesofchilddisappearanceshavebeendocumented.

In2007,theInstitutodeMedicinaLegalinSantaAnaundertookanexhumationofthe
75

76

massacresite. However,asof2015,theremainshaveyettobereturned totheirfamiliesfor


77

reburial,becomingasourceofgreatconsternationinthecommunity. TheInstitutodeMedicina

68

IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.GloriaMorn,Masacrede
LasCanoas,DobleDolor,
DiarioDigitalContraPunto,ElSalvador,CentralAmerican,November24,2012,
http://www.contrapunto.com.sv/ddhh/masacre-de-las-canoas-doble-dolor
69
CentroParaLaPromocinDeLosDerechosHumanos"MadeleineLagadec","Restosseosdelosvctimasdela
masacredeCanoas"(lecture,Pro-Bsqueda,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,February16,2015).
70
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
71
JuanCarlosBarahona,FamiliaresdeVctimasdeConflictoArmadoDenuncianaFGREnSantaAna,
LaPrensa
Grfica,October8,2010,
http://www.laprensagrafica.com/el-salvador/lodeldia/145655-familiares-de-victimas-de-conflicto-armado-denuncian-afgr-en-santa-anaGloriaMorn,MasacredeLasCanoas,DobleDolor,
DiarioDigitalContraPunto,ElSalvador,
CentralAmerican,November24,2012,
http://www.contrapunto.com.sv/ddhh/masacre-de-las-canoas-doble-dolor

Beatriz,Castillo,ElSalvador:FamiliaresdeLaMasacredeSantaAnaPidenLaEntregadeLosRestosseos,
El
Ututo,December6,2012.
http://elututopolitico.blogspot.com/2012/12/el-salvador-familiares-de-la-masacre-de.html

IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
72
CentroParaLaPromocinDeLosDerechosHumanos"MadeleineLagadec","Restosseosdelosvctimasdela
mascaredeCanoas"(lecture,Pro-Bsqueda,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,,February16,2015).
73
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
74
CentroParaLaPromocinDeLosDerechosHumanos"MadeleineLagadec","Restosseosdelosvctimasdela
masacredeCanoas"(lecture,Pro-Bsqueda,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,February16,2015).
75
GloriaMorn,MasacredeLasCanoas,DobleDolor,
DiarioDigitalContraPunto,ElSalvador,CentralAmerican,
November24,2012,
http://www.contrapunto.com.sv/ddhh/masacre-de-las-canoas-doble-dolor
76
Ibid.
77
ParientesdeVctimasDemandanaLaFiscala,accessedJanuary8,2015,
http://www.laprensagrafica.com/el-salvador/departamentos/145679-parientes-de-victimas-demandan-a-la-fiscalia
.
GloriaMorn,MasacredeLasCanoas,DobleDolor,
DiarioDigitalContraPunto,ElSalvador,CentralAmerican,
November24,2012,
http://www.contrapunto.com.sv/ddhh/masacre-de-las-canoas-doble-dolor
JuanCarlosBarahona,

14

LegaldeSantaAnaclaimsthatitisunabletoextractandanalyzetheDNAsamplessincethe
78

remainsaremorethan32yearsold. Thesurvivorscannotaffordtosendthesamplestoan
independentinstitutiontotestnonprofitorganizations,includingthewell-knownArgentine
forensicteam,havebeenunwillingtoanalyzethembecausetheinitialexhumationwas
79

conductedbytheInstitutodeMedicinaLegal. Thecurrentstateoftheremains,afterhaving
80

undergoneseveraltests,isunknown.
ThisreportisanattempttodocumentthetragedythatoccurredinLasCanoasin1980.
Informationisdrawnfromtestimoniesofsurvivors,newspaperarticles,declassifiedUnited
Statesdocuments,othergovernmentdocuments,andreportsfromhumanrightsorganizations.
Context
Atthetimeofthemassacre,mostpeopleintheLasCanoasareadedicatedthemselvesto
81

agriculture,especiallythecultivationofapples,corn,andbeans. Likemanyruralcommunities,
82

83

peasantsintheregionhadlong-standingdemandsforlandandcredit. LorenzoMedina

Zamora,acommunityleaderinLasCanoas,notedthattheproblemwasnotthattherewasno
landtowork,butratherthatthepeasantsweremarginalizedbythegovernment.Hesaidthatthe

FamiliaresdeVctimasdeConflictoArmadoDenuncianaFGREnSantaAna,
LaPrensaGrfica,October8,2010,
http://www.laprensagrafica.com/el-salvador/lodeldia/145655-familiares-de-victimas-de-conflicto-armado-denuncian-afgr-en-santa-ana
.
78
Beatriz,Castillo,ElSalvador:FamiliaresdeLaMasacredeSantaAnaPidenLaEntregadeLosRestosseos,
El
Ututo,December6,2012.
http://elututopolitico.blogspot.com/2012/12/el-salvador-familiares-de-la-masacre-de.html

CentroParaLaPromocinDeLosDerechosHumanos"MadeleineLagadec","Restosseosdelosvctimasdela
mascaredeCanoas"(lecture,Pro-Bsqueda,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,,February16,2015).
79
CentroParaLaPromocinDeLosDerechosHumanos"MadeleineLagadec","Restosseosdelosvctimasdela
mascaredeCanoas"(lecture,Pro-Bsqueda,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,,February16,2015).
80
Ibid.
81
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
82
Atthispointintheearly1980s,dueinparttoElSalvadorslackofnaturalresourcesandforeigninvestment,the
countryseconomyremainedoverwhelminglybasedonagriculture.Evenso,morethan70%ofthepopulationlivedon
landunsuitableforevensustenanceagriculture.
83
ElSalvadorAlert!U.S.CommitteeinSolidaritywiththePeopleofElSalvador,15November,1980.6.0001
No.1,Nov.15,1980,8pp.http://hrd.idcpublishers.info/hrd/protected/organization.html?id=1228#

15

governmentonlyprovidedloanstotherichlandownersandneglectedthepoorpeasants,who,
84

withoutgovernmentloans,struggledtomakealiving. TheSalvadoraneconomyexpandedin
the1960sand70s,butthebenefitsofthisexportexpansionrarelyreachedthemajorityofthe
85

Salvadorans,whowereruralandlandless. Inthisclimateofgovernmentneglect,apriestfrom
CoatepequenamedRodolfoAntonioMujicahelpedtheregionsfarmerstoformcooperatives.In
1972theyfoundedtheCooperativaFilialalaRegionalCoatepeque.Theyunitedtowork
togetherinhopesofescapingpoverty,marginalization,andtheeconomiccrisis.Medina
describesthatthecooperativebecameapopularorganizationinwhichteachersandstudents
organizedinanemergingstruggleagainstthedominantrichclass.

86

Repressionwasmountingatthenationallevel.Bytheearly1970s,protestsgrewagainst
economicinequality.87MedinaremembersgoingtoSanSalvadortoprotestalongwith80,000to
100,000people,afterwhichmass-scaleattacksbegan.88AccordingtoLorenzoMedinaZamora,
thegovernmentgrewconcernedaboutcooperativesandbegantoclassifythoseparticipatingin
cooperatives,likethatinLasCanoas,ascommunists,subversives,andguerrillas.89Ashe
explained,Thisiswhenthemassacresstartedandwhenthepeoplebegantomigrate.Whenthey
migrated,theyconcentratedthemselvesincertainareas,andthisiswhathappenedtoushere[in
LasCanoas].90

84

IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
Lungo,Mario,andArthurSchmidt.
ElSalvadorintheEighties:CounterinsurgencyandRevolution.Philadelphia:
TempleUniversityPress,1996:13.
GeorgeMelloan,WillReformSaveSalvador?,WallStreetJournal(1923-
CurrentFile),October8,
1980,http://search.proquest.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/docview/134494158/abstract/4669B59CF0244EFDPQ/
2?accountid=14784.
86
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
87
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAlexMontalvo,LasCanoas,ElSalvador,February17,20
15.
88
Ibid.
89
Ibid.
90
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAlexMontalvo,LasCanoas,ElSalvador,February17,20
15.
85

16

Similarly,JosMarioZamora,amemberofthecooperative,notesthatthecauseofthe
91

massacrewasthecreationofcooperativesandtheevangelisedcommunities. Thering-wing
juntasoughttodestroyanysignsofsocialismthatdemandscommonownership,oppressing
agrariancooperatives,womenscollectives,Christiancommunities,andunions.Infact,atthe
time,Salvadoranlawprohibitedagriculturalworkersandpublicemployeesfromorganizing
unions,enteringcollective-bargainingagreements,andholdingstrikes.92Salvadoranauthorities
hadlongsuspectedunionistsofguerrillaties,andastheviolenceescalated,thesepeople
93

naturallybecametargetsforthemilitary. Leaders,includingMedina,werereportedly
94

threatenedbytheNationalGuard,andaccusedofbeingguerrillas. PedroAcostaFlores,who
wasthepresidentoftheCooperativaFilialalaRegionalCoatepeque,wastakenfromhishouse
95

onenightandwasthreatenedwithdeath. Despitethisrepression,peoplecontinuedtomaintain
96

thecooperative.
Accordingtoasurvivor,thefearintensifiedin1976and1977assoldiersbegantovisit
97

cooperativemembersinordertointimidatethemtodisbandtheircooperative. Thespiritof
reformwasreplacedbyfearoftheescalatingviolence.98 Thefirstcaptureshappenedin1979.
PedroAcostaFloreswascapturedforsevenmonthsandlaterfreed.Additionally,ayounggirl
IntervieweeJosMarioZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
AmericasWatchCommittee.
ElSalvadorsDecadeofTerror:HumanRightsSinceTheAssassinationofArchbishop
Romero(NewHaven:YaleUniversityPress,1991):27.
93
LauraBriggs,
SomebodysChildren:ThePoliticsofTransracialandTransnationalAdoption(Durham,North
Carolina:DukeUniversityPress,2012):162GeorgeMelloan,WillReformSaveSalvador?,WallStreetJournal
(1923-CurrentFile),October8,1980,
http://search.proquest.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/docview/134494158/abstract/4669B59CF0244EFDPQ/2?acc
ountid=14784
.AmericasWatchCommittee.
ElSalvadorsDecadeofTerror:HumanRightsSinceTheAssassination
ofArchbishopRomero(NewHaven:YaleUniversityPress,1991):27.
94
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
95
Ibid.
96
Ibid.
97
Ibid.
98
AmericasWatchCommittee.
ElSalvadorsDecadeofTerror:HumanRightsSinceTheAssassinationofArchbishop
Romero(NewHaven:YaleUniversityPress,1991):6.
91
92

17

namedElenaGomezfromAtahualpadisappearedandwasneverseenagain.Bytheendof1979,
99

deathsquadkillingsincreasedtoapproximatelyathousandpermonth. InJanuaryof1980,the
popularorganizationsofleftistfactionscombinedtoformtheCoordinadoraRevolucionariade
Masas(CRM)of200,000peopleandheldademonstrationwithabout200,000peopleinmid
100

Januaryof1980. ForcesfromtheNationalGuard,NationalPolice,andothersattackedand
101

killedpeopleinvolvedintheCRMdemonstration,leavingmanydeadandhundredsinjured.
102

OnMarch24th,1980,ArchbishopRomerowasassassinated.
Incidentsofkillingsanddisappearancesoflaborandpeasantactivistsreachedtheirpeak
during1980and1981.103In1980,theUSStateDepartmentconservativelyestimatedthatinthat
104

yearalone9,000peoplediedinpoliticalviolence. SalvadoranhumanrightsmonitorSocorro
Jurdiconotedthatabout8,000outoftheirestimated10,000deathswereattributedto
105

governmentforces,3,700ofwhomwerepeasants. OnehumanrightsreportbyAsociacin
InternacionalJuristasDemocrticasnotesthatoftentimes,thedeadwereviolentlymutilatedto
106

instillfearinthepeople. AccordingtoMedina,onMarch1980,hisbrother,JosFrancisco,
waskilled.Twomonthslater,hiscousinSilviaZamoraGonzlezwascapturedandexecutedby
thistime,ageneralrepressionhadovercomeallofthecaserosaroundLasCanoasaswellas

99

Lungo,Mario,andArthurSchmidt.ElSalvadorintheEighties:CounterinsurgencyandRevolution.Philadelphia:
TempleUniversityPress,1996.:17
100
Lungo,Mario,andArthurSchmidt.ElSalvadorintheEighties:CounterinsurgencyandRevolution.Philadelphia:
TempleUniversityPress,1996.:17
101
Ibid.
102
Ibid.
103
AmericasWatchCommittee.
ElSalvadorsDecadeofTerror:HumanRightsSinceTheAssassinationofArchbishop
Romero(NewHaven:YaleUniversityPress,1991):28.
104
RobertoAlvarezetal.,AReportonHumanRightsinElSalvador,6.
105
Ibid,6-7.
106
AsociacinInternacionalJuristasDemocrticas,MisinaElSalvador.44.(1980)10-11.
http://hrd.idcpublishers.info.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/hrd/protected/results.html?quicksearch=true&f.contents=el+
salvador+disappear*+1980

18

107

aroundtheentirecountry. ThroughJune,July,andAugustin1980thepeasantsofLasCanoas
becamevictimsofdirectrepressionandthegovernmentforcesbegantocaptureandkillmany
people,includingRicardoGomezMartinez,whowascapturedandkilledalongwithhiswife,
108

MargaritaFlores,andtheirdisabledsevenyearoldson. ButthecooperativeinLasCanoasstill
continueddespitetheincreasingrepression.
TheTragedyAtLasCanoas
TheAsociacinInternacionaldeJuristasDemocrticasreportedthatfromtherecoveryof
declarationsofrepressionsfromtheCDHES(
ComisindeDerechosHumanosdeElSalvador
),
andmaterialfromtheSocorroJurdicodelArzobispado,itwasclearthatthereexistedaprogram
109

ofgenocideinthecountryinSeptember1980,amonthbeforethemassacreatLasCanoas.
ThiscorrelateswithJosMarioZamorastestimonythatthesoldierscame,notwiththeintention
110

ofcapturingorinterrogatingpeoplebutwiththesoleintentionofassassinating.
InSeptemberandOctober,thefarmersbegantocometogetheratLasCanoasasanact
111

ofsolidarityandtostandbyoneanother. Thelocationwaschosenbecauseitwasbelievedto
112

besafeduetothelackofnearbyroadsnearby,sothattheenemiescouldnotarrivesoeasily.
Manyfamiliesfromneighboringcaseroslefttheirhomesandtheirlandforthecentrallocation
113

ofLasCanoastoprotectthemselvesfromselectivecapturesandkillings. There,theystayedin
acementhousewithsomewindowsandaporch,perchedonasteep,grassyhill.
107

IntervieweeJosMarioZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.IntervieweeLorenzoM
Zamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
108
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
109
AsociacinInternacionalJuristasDemocrticas,MisinaElSalvador.44.(1980)10-11.
http://hrd.idcpublishers.info.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/hrd/protected/results.html?quicksearch=true&f.contents=el+
salvador+disappear*+1980
110
IntervieweeJosMarioZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
111
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAlexMontalvo,LasCanoas,ElSalvador,February17,20
15.
112
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
113
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador..

19

OnOctober8th,1980,theapproximately70to80people,majorityofwhomwere
114

115

children,weregatheredatthehouse. Theyweremakingluncharoundnoon, unarmedand


unpreparedforanarmedconfrontation.

116

Withoutwarning,acombinedforceoftwentyfromthe

117

NationalGuard, governmentsympathizers,andSalvadoranarmyencircledandopenedfire
118

fromtwosidesofthehouse.Lunchwasinterrupted withgrenadesandburstsofG3weapons.
119

Withoutsayingwhy,thetroopsassassinatedpeople, andwhilemostpeoplewereabletorun
120

away,otherswerekilled. LasCanoasmassacresurvivor
ReinaHernndezrecallsher
experiencetryingtorunawayfromthesoldiers:

Itwasat12noon.Atthatmomentweweregoingtogivefoodtothekids,whenthe
[military]showedup.Iwassick.Iwasreallysick.Andmysonwhowas5yearsoldwas
withmeinbed.Whenweheardthegunfire,ItriedtofleebutIcouldn't.Thewomenwho
wererunningawayweregettingkilled.IwasbehindagirlandwhenIsawthatshegot
shotandfellinfrontofme,Isaid,myGod,whatdoIdo?Withmyson?Thehousehada
window.Idon'tknowhowIdidit,butIthrewmyselfthroughthewindow.Ipulled
myselfuponthewindowledgeandthroughmyselfthroughtotheotherside.My
husbandwastherewithmyothertwogirls,andabunchoflittlekids.Shehadoneleg
alreadybroken,andanotherhere,onherhand.Igrabbedmythreekids,Iwasgoingto
runoutofthehouse,butIcouldn't.TheNationalGuardwasthere,surroundingus,and
theyaimedatme,andIsaid,mayGod'swillbedone.Iwentback,returnedwithmy
threekids,andIwentlikethisupagainstthewall,huggingthem.That'swhereIgotshot.
Atthesametimeas[thebullet]hitme,italsohitmythreeyearolddaughter.Well,when
Ifelttheimpact,IgotupwithmythreechildrenandIwentrunningoutside.121

Whentheattackended,thesoldierstoldthepeoplestillhidinginsidethehousetocome
out,sayingthattheywouldtaketheinjuredtothehospital.Thosewhocompliedwereforcedto

114

IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAlexMontalvo,LasCanoas,ElSalvador,February17,20
15.
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
116
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAlexMontalvo,LasCanoas,ElSalvador,February17,20
15.
117
IntervieweeJosMarioZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
118
Ibid.
119
IntervieweeLorenzoMZamora,InterviewbyAlexMontalvo,LasCanoas,ElSalvador,February17,20
15.
120
IntervieweeJosMarioZamora,InterviewbyAsociacinPro-Bsqueda,ElSalvador.
121
IntervieweeReinaDHernandez,InterviewbyAngelinaGodoy,SantaAna,ElSalvador,February17,2015.
115

20

layfacedownonthegroundfromnoontosixintheevening,duringwhichtimemanywere
122

torturedandraped,andsomekilled. AsReinaHernndezreported,
Myhusbandsaidtome,Goout,hesaid,Gooutwiththechildren,maybetheywon't
doanythingtoyou.No,Isaidtohim,They'regoingtokillme.Iwanttodieherewith
you.Butthentheythrewagrenadeintothekitchen.Abunchofbo
wlsandstuffcame
crashingdownontopofus.Andthecrying/screamingofthechildren.OK,Isaid,I'm
goingtogoout.Idecidedtogoout,Istoodup,Igrabbedmythreechildren,andallthe
womenandchildrenwentoutintothepatiowithourhandsup.Wewentoutlikethatto
thepatio,andtheytoldus,getdownontheground,there,facedown,everyone.They
keptustherelikethatfromnoonuntil6intheafternoon.Itwasgettingdark.My
children,whentheysawthat[soldiers]wereapproachingmewithabigknife
tochopoff
myhead,theyscreamed.Theysaid,Don'tkillmymommy!Don'tdoanythingtomy
mommy!Andtheyscreamed...123

Twenty-threepeoplewerereportedlykilledinCaseroLasCanoas,includingtenfemales,
124

oneofwhomwasagirl,ninemales,andfourunidentifiedpeople. AccordingtoLorenzo
MedinaZamora,sevenchildrenandfourwomenwhowerewoundedwerecapturedandtakento
thehospitalothersurvivorsreportedsimilar,thoughslightlyvarying,numbersThesoldierswho
hadattackedthehouseledtheinjuredtothehouseofanunaffiliatedlocalmanwhoowneda
pickuptruck,andthenforcedhimtotakethemtothepublichospitalinSantaAna.125

122

IntervieweeReinaDHernandez,InterviewbyAngelinaGodoy,SantaAna,ElSalvador,February17,2015..
Ibid.
124
JuanCarlosBarahona,FamiliaresdeVctimasdeConflictoArmadoDenuncianaFGREnSantaAna,
LaPrensa
Grfica,October8,2010,
http://www.laprensagrafica.com/el-salvador/lodeldia/145655-familiares-de-victimas-de-conflicto-armado-denuncian-afgr-en-santa-ana
GloriaMorn,MasacredeLasCanoas,DobleDolor,
DiarioDigitalContraPunto,ElSalvador,
CentralAmerican,November24,2012,http://www.contrapunto.com.sv/ddhh/masacre-de-las-canoas-doble-dolor
BeatrizCastillo,ElSalvador:FamiliaresdeLaMasacredeSantaAnaPidenLaEntregadeLosRestosseos,
El
Ututo,December6,2012.
http://elututopolitico.blogspot.com/2012/12/el-salvador-familiares-de-la-masacre-de.html

CentroParaLaPromocinDeLosDerechosHumanos"MadeleineLagadec","Restosseosdelosvctimasdela
masacredeCanoas"(lecture,AsociacinPro-Bsqueda,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,,February16,2015).
125
IntervieweeMargaritaZamora,InterviewbyAlexMontalvo,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,February21,2015.
123

21

MediaCoverageAttheTime
Themediahadextensivecoverageatthetime,evenintheUnitedStates,ofviolence
126

occurringintheSantaAnaregion. However,thesereportsfocusedonviolencebyguerrillas,
ratherthanongovernmentattacks.AccordingtotheSalvadorannewspaper,
PrensaLatina
,
guerrillaattacksontheNationalGuard,police,andarmyhadintensifiedinSantaAnabythe
beginningofOctober1980.

127

OnOctober1st,guerrillasusedhandgrenadesandriflesattacked
128

theNationalPolicebarracksinSantaAna. OnOctober14th,anarticlestatedthat30people
129

wereshotdeadinSonsonateandSantaAna.
USgovernmentdocumentsalsorevealclearawarenessoftheviolenceinSantaAna
duringtheweekofOctober4thtoOctober10th,1980.Forexample,acablesentfromtheUS
EmbassyinSanSalvadortotheSecretaryofStateinWashingtonstates,10/6Agroupof
allegedtobeleftistsattackedandrobbedanagriculturalcooperativenearCandelariadela
Frontera(SantaAna)...10/6InthecityofSantaAna,securityforceskilledfiveofagroupofa
reportedfortymembergangofbanditsdescribedasmasqueradingasleftistguerrillas...10/6In
thecityofSantaAna,asoftdrinkdistributorshipwasrobbedofweaponsandalargeamountof
130

moneybyagroupofmaskedmen. Thereisclearevidenceofviolenceintheareaduringthis
time,butgovernmentattacksinremotelocationssuchasLasCanoaswasnotcoveredbythe
media.
126

SalvadoranArmyReportsKilling17Left-WingGuerrillasinClash,
TheNewYorkTimes,October1,1980,
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9B05E4D91138E732A25752C0A9669D94619FD6CF
.Guerrillas
AttackRegularForcesinVariousAreas,
PrensaLatina,October1,1980.50KilledinElSalvador,
TheSeattle
Times,October14,1980.
127
GuerrillasAttackRegularForcesinVariousAreas,
PrensaLatina,October1,1980.
128
SalvadoranArmyReportsKilling17Left-WingGuerrillasinClash,
TheNewYorkTimes,October1,1980,
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9B05E4D91138E732A25752C0A9669D94619FD6CF
.Guerrillas
AttackRegularForcesinVariousAreas,
PrensaLatina,October1,1980.
129
50KilledinElSalvador,
TheSeattleTimes,October14,1980.
130
RobertE.White,ViolenceWeekinReview,October14,1980,DigitalNationalArchive.

22

Aftermath
Rightafterthemassacre,childrenweretakenawayandplacedinorphanageswithoutthe
consentoftheirparents,includingAnaandIsabelWilliams,thetwodisappearedsisterswhom
131

Pro-Bsquedahasbeenabletolocate. Theorphanagetoldtheirmother,EsterMonterola
Lpez,
Theyrehere,butyouhavetogogettheirbirthcertificatesandpay20colonesforeach
ofthem.132
Igotthemoney,eventhoughIhadtoborrowit.ButwhenIcamebackwithittheytold
methattheyhadgiventhemawayinadoptiontoanothercountry,andIdidntevenknow
whichcountry.SoIcamebackcrying,verysad.Ididn'tknowwhattodo.Ijustasked
Godtokeepthemaliveandkeepthemwell,andthatonedayImightbeabletoseethem
again.133

BythetimeEsterMonterolaLpezwasabletocollectthechildrensbirthcertificates,
AnaandIsabelhadbeensenttotheUnitedStatesforadoption.134AsociacinPro-Bsquedas
researcherMargaritaZamoraclaimedthattheintentoftheorphanage
[w]asthatthegirlswould
go[abroad]anditwouldbehardfor[Ester]togetthemoney...Thiswasthesituationofpoverty
whichEsterlivedalongwithmanyotherSalvadorans.135
Despitetheapparentevidenceofonviolenceintheareaatthetime,therehasnotyet
beenathoroughinvestigationintothemassacreatLasCanoas.In2007,27yearsafterthe
massacre,theFiscala(orDistrictAttorneysOffice)inSantaAnaapprovedtheexhumationof
136

theremainsinLasCanoasandanalysisofDNA forthreereasons:toallowaproperChristian

131

IntervieweeMargaritaZamora,InterviewbyAlexMontalvo,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,February21,2015.
IntervieweeEsterML
pez
,InterviewbyAngelinaGodoy,SantaAna,ElSalvador,February17,2015.
133
IntervieweeEsterML
pez
,InterviewbyAngelinaGodoy,SantaAna,ElSalvador,February17,2015.
134
IntervieweeMargaritaZamora,Interviewby
AlexMontalvo,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,February21,20
15.
135
Ibid.
136
GloriaMorn,MasacredeLasCanoas,DobleDolor,
DiarioDigitalContraPunto,ElSalvador,CentralAmerican,
November24,2012,
http://www.contrapunto.com.sv/ddhh/masacre-de-las-canoas-doble-dolor
132

23

137

burial,discoverthetruthofwhathappenedinLasCanoas,andforhumanitarianpurposes. The
DistrictAttorneypurposefullyincludedhumanitarianpurposesasareasontoavoidthe
politicizationoftheseproceedings,focusingonallowingsurvivorsandlovedonestoheal.138
Theexhumationwasauthorizedtobeperformedabout30feetawayfromthehouse
wheresomewhosurvivedthemassacrehadreturnedtoburythedeadwiththeirpersonaleffects
daysaftertheincident.139Itwastobedoneduringtherainyseasonandonadownhillslope,
makingconditionsdifficultforinvestigators.140Theexhumationnotonlyuncoveredremains,but
alsopiecesofmetalshrapnel,andclothestypicalofthe1980s,butwithholescreatedby
141

firearms. Variouscoinswerealsofoundneartheremainsandinsidethepocketsoftheclothes,
alldatedpre-1980,helpingtocorroboratethedateofthemassacre.142Theremainsfoundinthe
exhumationweretoundergoDNAanalysistoidentifythevictimsofthemassacre,andsowere
takentotheInstitutodeMedicinaLegal.Theremainsweretobereturnedtotheirlovedonesin
February2009.143
144

However,asof2015,theremainshaveyettobereturnedtothefamiliesofthevictims.
TheFiscalaGeneraldelaRepblica(FGR)reportsbeingunabletoreturntheremainsbecauseit
145

woulddisturbtheinvestigationprotocol. AccordingtotheFGR,theInstitutodeMedicina
LegalinSantaAnasaysthatitcannottestthisDNAsinceitismorethan32yearsoldandthe

137

CentroParaLaPromocinDeLosDerechosHumanos"MadeleineLagadec","Restosseosdelosvctimasdela
masacredeCanoas"(lecture,Pro-Bsqueda,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,February16,2015).
138
Ibid.
139
Ibid.
140
Ibid.
141
Ibid.
142
Ibid.
143
Ibid.
144
GloriaMorn,MasacredeLasCanoas,DobleDolor,
DiarioDigitalContraPunto,ElSalvador,CentralAmerican,
November24,2012,
http://www.contrapunto.com.sv/ddhh/masacre-de-las-canoas-doble-dolor
145
BeatrizCastillo,ElSalvador:FamiliaresdeLaMasacredeSantaAnaPidenLaEntregadeLosRestosseos,
El
Ututo,December6,2012.
http://elututopolitico.blogspot.com/2012/12/el-salvador-familiares-de-la-masacre-de.html
.

24

146

InstitutiondoesnotownsensitiveenoughequipmenttotestthesmallDNAsample. Hence,
theyclaimthatthereisnotenoughevidenceyettocompleteafullinvestigation,andtherefore
cannotreturntheremains.147Manyofthefamilymembersofthosewhowerefoundinthe
exhumationhavealreadybeenabletoidentifytheirlovedonesduetotheclothestheywere
wearing,andyettheyarenotallowedtogivethemaburialinaccordancewiththeirreligious
148

traditions.
LawyersattheCenterforthePromotionofHumanRightsMadeleineLagadec,have
149

spentyearsattemptingtoconvincetheFGRtoorderthereturntheremainstothefamilies.
TherestillhasbeennoannouncementofaclearplanbytheFGR,butinFebruary2015thecase
wasmovedtotheFiscaladeDerechosHumanos,adepartmentwithintheFGRthatconcentrates
150

onhumanrightsinvestigations. TheCenterdemandsthattheFGRprotectthefamiliesrightto
burytheirlovedonesandthatFGRshouldsimplyextractthenecessaryDNAandgivethe
151

remainsbacktothefamiliessothattheymaybegintoheal. TheCenterhopesthatthecase
willberesolvedbytheendofthisyear,butifnot,intendstotakeittotheInter-AmericanCourt
152

ofHumanRights.

146

BeatrizCastillo,ElSalvador:FamiliaresdeLaMasacredeSantaAnaPidenLaEntregadeLosRestosseos,
El
Ututo,December6,2012.
http://elututopolitico.blogspot.com/2012/12/el-salvador-familiares-de-la-masacre-de.html
.
CentroParaLaPromocinDeLosDerechosHumanos"MadeleineLagadec"
147
CentroParaLaPromocinDeLosDerechosHumanos"MadeleineLagadec","Restosseosdelosvctimasdela
masacredeCanoas"(lecture,Pro-Bsqueda,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,February16,2015).
148
JuanCarlosBarahona,FamiliaresdeVctimasdeConflictoArmadoDenuncianaFGREnSantaAna,
LaPrensa
Grfica,October8,2010,
http://www.laprensagrafica.com/el-salvador/lodeldia/145655-familiares-de-victimas-de-conflicto-armado-denuncian-afgr-en-santa-ana
149
IsraelGonzales,SobrevivientesdeLaMasacredeLasCanoasPidenjusticia,DiarioCoLatino,October13,2010.
150
CentroParaLaPromocinDeLosDerechosHumanos"MadeleineLagadec","Restosseosdelosvctimasdela
masacredeCanoas"(lecture,Pro-Bsqueda,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,February16,2015).
151
Ibid.
152
CentroParaLaPromocinDeLosDerechosHumanos"MadeleineLagadec","Restosseosdelosvctimasdela
masacredeCanoas"(lecture,Pro-Bsqueda,SanSalvador,ElSalvador,February16,2015).

25

Conclusion
Massacresofcivilianpopulationsinruralareasoccurredsystematicallyandstrategically
underthegovernmentsassumptionthatthatcivilianswhodidnotwanttocooperatewiththe
insurgentswouldleaveareaswithhighinsurgencypresence,whichconcludedthatallwho
153

remainedinareaswithhighguerrillawereallegedlycollaborators.
thephenomenonofthemassacresoccurreddeliberatelyaspartofastrategy
systematicallyplannedbytheArmedForcesofElSalvador[thus]itcannotbeargued
thattheinnumerablemassexecutionsofthecivilianpopulationwereisolatedactsof
violenceofwhichtheseniorauthoritiesoftheArmedForcedandtheGovernmentin
powerwereunawaretothecontrary,theywereinsertedinandwereacentralpartofa
154
specificcounterinsurgencypolicyoftheState.
Whilethisreportprovidespreliminaryinformationaboutthemassacre,itisonlyonestep
indocumentingwhatreallytranspiredinordertorecognizeElSalvadorspastatrocitiesand
presentstruggleforrestorationandreconciliationafterdecadesofviolence.Landreformsand
pooreconomicconditionsdrovethefarmersintheLasCanoasregiontoorganizecooperativesin
ordertosharetheirresourcesandmakealiving.TheSalvadorangovernmentsawthisasa
communistactandrespondedbymassacring,torturing,injuringcivilians,destroyingfarmsand
houses,andabductingchildren.ThoughthemassacreatLasCanoasoccurred35yearsago,there
hasneverbeenafullinvestigationofwhatoccurred.Thedenialofjusticetosurvivorsis
exacerbatedbytheFGRsfailuretoreturnthecommunityslovedonesremainstothemfor
reburialthisproceduralirregularityconstitutesafurtherviolationoftheirrights.Asthefounder
ofAsociacinPro-BsquedaJonCortinahasalwaysinsisted,thereisawoundamong

153

TommieSueMontgomery.
RevolutioninElSalvador:FromCivilStrifetoCivilPeace,SecondEdition(Boulder:
WestviewPress,19951981ElSalvadorAnnualReport,AmnestyInternational
154
Inter-AmericanCourtofHumanRights.CaseoftheMassacresofElMozoteandneighboringlocationsv.El
Salvador,Merits,ReparationsandCosts,JudgmentofOctober25,2012,I/ACourtH.R.,SeriesCNo.252(2012).

26

Salvadoranparents,children,andsocietythatcannothealuntilpeopleknowthetruthandjustice
155

isdone.

155

LauraBriggs,
SomebodysChildren:ThePoliticsofTransracialandTransnationalAdoption(Durham,North
Carolina:DukeUniversityPress,2012):177

27

TheMassacreatLaQuesera:TimelinefromSeptember14toOctober30,1981
TheBajoLempariverregionisinthedepartmentofUsulutn156inthesoutheastregion
ofElSalvador.AtthisagriculturalareatotheeastoftheLempaRiver,about2,800soldiers157of
theAtlacatl158andAtonalBattalions,the5thBrigadeInfantryUnitbasedinSanVicente,the6th
BrigadeInfantryUnitbasedinUsulutn,theNationalGuards,andSalvadoranAirForces159
captured,tortured,assassinatedcivilians,burnedhousesandfarms,andabductedchildren160
betweenOctober20thand30th,1981.161TheLaQueseramassacrereportedlyresultedin350to
500deaths162,mostofwhomwerechildrenandwomen.163Inaddition,24childrenand36
womendisappearedandapproximately1,000peopleweredisplaced.164Whiletheviolence
affectedmanyvillagesandhamletsinthedistrictsofBerln,SanAgustnandJiquilisco,all
withinthedepartmentofUsulutn,themassacretookonthenameofofthevillageofLa
Quesera,wheremostpeasantsfledtohidefromthesoldiers.165
In2004,theArgentineForensicAnthropologyTeam(EquipoArgentinodeAntropologa
Forense,EAAF)conductedexhumationsandanalysisoftheremainsofthevictimsoftheLa
Queseramassacre.TheyworkedwithforensicdoctorsandodontologistsfromtheInstituteof

156

ElSalvador,in
AnnualReport2005,(BuenosAires:EquipoArgentinodeAntropologaForense,2005),103.
AROUNDTHEWORLDSalvadoranCommandosRaidRebelRegion,TheNewYorkTimes,October29,1981.
158
LempaBridgesAreaFortified,ElDiariodeHoy,October281981MajorOperationLaunched,ElMundo,
October271981,UPI,AROUNDTHEWORLDSalvadoranCommandosRaidRebelRegion,TheNewYork
Times,October28,1981
CynthiaG.Brown,
July20,1982supplementtotheReportonhumanrightsinElSalvador
(NewYork,NY:AmericasWatchCommittee,1982).
159
TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),4.
160
Ibid,6.
161
ElSalvador,in
AnnualReport2005,(BuenosAires:EquipoArgentinodeAntropologiaForense,2005),103.

TutelaLegal:Oct.20-30,AmericasWatchonReportofHumanRightsinElSalvador:Oct.20-29TutelaLegaldel
Arzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),2.
162
UnitedStatesDepartmentofJusticeExecutiveOfficeforImmigrationReviewImmigrationCourtMiami,Florida.
Inthematterof:JoseGuillermoGarca-Merino,Removalproceedings.ExpertReportofProfessorTerryL.Karl.
TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),4.
163
ElSalvador,in
AnnualReport2005,(BuenosAires:EquipoArgentinodeAntropologiaForense,2005),103.
164
SolidaridadBoletinInternacional,SocorroJuridicoDelArzobispado,November30,1981.
165
TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),5.
157

28

LegalMedicineatSantaTeclaandSanMiguel.166Theforensicanalysisconfirmedremainsof
167

approximately376victimsatthemassacresites.
ThisreportisanattempttodocumentthetragedythatoccurredintheBajoLemparegion
ofElSalvadorin1981.Informationisdrawnfromtestimoniesofsurvivors,newspaperarticles,
declassifiedUnitedStatesdocuments,othergovernmentdocuments,andreportsfromhuman
rightsorganizations.
Context
ThemassacreoccurredatthepeakofinstitutionalizedviolencebytheUS-sponsored
Salvadoranjuntathatattemptedtorepressallexpressionsofdissent.168Thegovernmentsought
todisarticulateanyoppositionmovementsthroughtheuseofarbitraryarrests,beatings,killings,
disappearancesandselectiveassassinations.SalvadoranhumanrightsmonitorSocorroJurdico
reportedatotalof34,131totalvictimsofassassinations,disappearances,andkillingsofcivilians
169

throughoutElSalvador, around800politicalkillingspermonthbythemilitaryand
military-linkeddeathsquadsbetween1980-1982.

170

Atthetimeofthemassacre,theBajoLempaRiverregionhadapproximately3,000adobe
housesandranchesand20,000inhabitants,

171

mostofwhomwerepeasantsdedicatedto

agricultureandfishingasameansofsurvival.However,duetosuspectedhighguerrillapresence
andactivity,theBajoLempaareawassubjectedtocontinuousmilitaryviolencesincetheendof

166

ElSalvador,in
AnnualReport2005,(BuenosAires:EquipoArgentinodeAntropologiaForense,2005),104.
Ibid.
168
AmericasWatchCommittee.ElSalvadorsDecadeofTerror:HumanRightsSinceTheAssassinationofArchbishop
Romero(NewHaven:YaleUniversityPress,1991):10.
169
InstitutodeDerechosHumanos(IDHUCA),
LosDerechosHumanosenElSalvadordurante1985,FascculoII,
UniversidadCentroamericanaJosSimenCaas,SanSalvador,April12,1986,39.
170
SpecialFreedomHouseReport:MissiontoElSalvador
LibraryofCongressCataloging-in-PublicationData
(1989):22.
171
TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),3.
167

29

the1970s.172Theattacksoccurredasregularlyasevery15to30days.

173

Asonesurvivor

reported,
[Our]sufferingsbeganin1977.Therewasayoungmanwho,likeanyotheryoung
person,wantedtobeacandidate,[called]"FelipePatatiesa"[who]wenttodeclare
himselfacandidatefortheoppositionpartyinthosedays.Allofthosewhosawthatwe
werelivingbadlyinthosedaysdecidedtosupporthim.Butimmediatelyafterthe
electionsformayor,[everyonewhosupportedhim]startedtosuffer,suffer,suffer.The
NationalGuardbeatusupallthetime.TheytookawaymypistolIusedtohavethatI
usedformywork[...]wesuffered,thoseofuswhosupportedhim...
Whenitgotto1980
thingswereevenmoreserious,morestillwhentheykilledMsgrOscarArnulfoRomero,
whichwethoughtwasevenmorecruel.Theystartedtoarrivewherewelived,andthere
civiliansdied,humblepeople,honorablepeople,withoutknowingwhytheywerekilled.
Theauthoritieswouldarriveandburnthehouses,theykilledchildren,killedelderly
people,women,nottomentionanymanthattheyfoundonthestreet,andthatwasfrom
1980onward,becauseitwasinMarchthatMonseorwaskilledandbyApril,May,they
werepersecutingme.Peoplealwaysstruggledtowork,buttheydestroyedtheircrops,
theydestroyedeverything,andyouhadtoalwaysbefleeingandtryingtoworkto
survive,butitkeptgettingworse,untilthemomentthatwecouldn'tanymore,whichwas
October24,1981,wheneveryonewasmassacred.174

Inresponse,manyciviliansorganizedthemselves,fledtheirhomes,andcrossedfromone
sideoftheLempaRivertotheotherwhenevertheysawthearmyapproaching.175
Themonthbeforethemassacrein1981,thearmybegansearchanddestroymissions,
176

resultingin16,266deathinwhich7,916werecivilianpeasantsbetweenJanuaryand
177

Decemberof1981. ThemilitarymissionsweremostintensiveinSanVicenteandUsulutn.178

172

ElSalvador,in
AnnualReport2005,(BuenosAires:EquipoArgentinodeAntropologiaForense,2005),103.
Ibid.
174
IntervieweeDonSalvadorGarcia,InterviewbyAngelinaGodoy,
LaQuesera,Usulutn
,ElSalvador,February20,
2015.
175
ElSalvador,in
AnnualReport2005,(BuenosAires:EquipoArgentinodeAntropologiaForense,2005),103
.
176
RaymondBonner,ForSalvadorVictims,MacabreFate,
TheNewYorkTimes,November17,1981,
http://www.nytimes.com/1981/11/17/world/for-salvador-victims-macabre-fate.html.
177
SocorroJurdicoCristiano"ArzobispoOscarRomero",inInstitutodeDerechosHumanos(IDHUCA),LosDerechos
HumanosenElSalvadorduranteelao1985,SanSalvador,April1986:41.
178
RaymondBonner,ForSalvadorVictims,MacabreFate,
TheNewYorkTimes,November17,1981,
http://www.nytimes.com/1981/11/17/world/for-salvador-victims-macabre-fate.html.
173

30

Inresponse,theFarabundoMartNationalLiberationFront(FrenteFarabundoMartpara
laLiberacinNacional,FMLN),thecoalitionofguerrillaforces,conducteditsbiggestattackon
October15th,1981,fivedayspriortothemassacre.UnderOperationChalatenango,FMLN
179

bombedthePuentedeOro, abridgeovertheLempaRiverthatconnectedtheeastern
provincestotherestofthecountry,whichcarriedmorethan68percentofthenationstrade,and
wasusedtotransportarmytroops.180Insteadofretaliatingagainsttheguerrillaforces,the
governmentattackedthelocalcivilians,assumingcollaborationbetweeninhabitantsand
guerrillas.181
Duringthearmyattacksonareacivilians,thetroopsreportedlyshoutedsloganssuchas
Herecomesthebirdstodevourthebread[referringtothecivilianpopulation].Youarewho
givefoodtotheguerrillas.Now,theguerrillasaregoingtodieofhungerbecausetheyarenot
182

goingtohavesomeonetofeedthem.

ManyciviliansweremassacredsystematicallyandstrategicallythroughoutElSalvador
simplybecausetheyinhabitedcertainstrategicallyimportantareaswhereguerrillaswere
believedtohavebeenactive.183Inactuality,manyciviliansintheregionhadnoaffiliation,and
weretoopoortoleavetheirhomeswheretheirfamilieshadbeenresidingforgenerations.This
wasthecaseintheBajoLemparegionaswell.

179

Cynthia,Brown.SupplementtotheReportonHumanRightsinElSalvador.AmericasWatchCommunity.July
10,1982,25.
180
OroBridgeDestructionOperationDescribed,ManaguaBarricada,November231981
181
BoletinUrgente,
SocorroJuridicodelArzobsipado,November1981,4.
182
Ibid.
183
AmnestyInternational,"LettertoUSSecretaryofStateAlexanderHaigonPossibleImpactofUnitedStates
MilitaryAssistancetoElSalvadoronAIConcernsinthatCountry,"
ElSalvadorPacket,May11,1981.

31

TheTragedyAttheBajoLempaRegion
TheBajoLemparegionaffectedbythemassacreextendsfromSanMarcosLempatoSan
AgustnandincludesvillagesofLaQuesera,SanPedro,LasDelicias,ValleelSalitre,Las
Crucitas,HojadeSal,LinaresCaulotal,NombredeDios,Filn,LinaresMontaitas,SanJuan
Letrn,LasPiletas,Berln,PuenteCuscatln,TresCalles,ElJcaro,LaLoma,ValleNuevo,
Corosal,LasHojas,LasHornillas,LaUnin,Bolvar,ElCedro,LaCeibita,ElSitio,andValle
losAyala.
Themassacretookplaceinthecontextofamilitaryoperationofficiallynamed
OperationEncirclementinreferencetothearmyspracticeofsurroundingentireregionsand
systematicallyeliminatinganybodywithinthoseborders.184Theoperationwasreportedly
characterizedbyalmost24-hourshellingoftheareaby205-mmguns,helicopters,andmilitary
185

planes.
OnOctober20th,themilitaryandtheparamilitarytroopsbegantoseizethe
aforementionedregions,terrorizing,torturing,andassassinatingpeoplewithfirearmsandknives.
186

Althoughthearmyhadalreadybeenhabituallyattackingthevillagespriortothemassacre,

theviolencethatbeganonthe20thwasmoresystematicandofalargerscalethemassacrewas
oneofthefirststrategicandthelargestmilitaryscorchedearthoperationsbytheSalvadoran
military.

187

Asasurvivorofthemassacrereported,

Specificallyonthe20thdayofOctober,militarypersonnelofthearmedforcesinvaded
ElCantninadifferentwaytowhattheycommonlydid.[Usually,]whentheypassed
184

BoletinUrgente,SocorroJuridicodelArzobispado,November1981,2.
DuartereportsalliancewithGuatemala,Honduras,
HavanaInternationalService,October301981
186
TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),4.
187
AsociacinPro-Bsqueda,VctimasdemandaninvestigardesaparicionesdurantelaMasacredeLaQuesera,
accessedJanuary8,2015.
http://www.probusqueda.org.sv/victimas-demandan-investigar-a-la-fiscalia-general-de-la-republica-el-paradero-de-losninos-y-ninas-desaparecidos-durante-la-masacre-de-la-quesera/.
185

32

throughthearea,theywouldkillthemiftheyfoundsomeoneonthestreetwithout
hesitation,buttheyrespectedthosewhowereinsidetheirhomes.Butthistimewas
different.Theyenteredhishomeandkilledtheinhabitantsortookthemoutsideto
executetheminanotherplace.Hecouldseethatthesurroundingvillageswereinflames
188
andcouldhearshotsfromafar.
OnOctober21st,thesoldierscontinuedtocarryouttheirscorchedearthoperation
theyburnedcrops,stoleandkilledanimals,captured,interrogated,andtorturedmen,raped
women,andexecutedciviliansattheirhomesoronthefarmlands,toachievethetotal
exterminationofthepopulation,whomthegovernmentbelievedtobesupportersofthe
189

insurgentsorpotentialinsurgents,andtheirresources. MartaArias,asurvivor,explains,
Theythrewaliquidintothewater[and]intotherivers.Theythrewbombs[that]fellin
thewater.thenanyonewhofellinthewaterbecamesick.I[once]fellandgotonefootin
theriver,whichleftmewithalargewoundonthesoleofmyfootthatswelledupalot.It
wasacidthattheythrewinthewater,soanyonewhofellintheriverbecamesick,and
anyonewhodrankthewaterdied.190

MilagroMartnez,asurvivorandmotheroftwodisappearedchildren,recallswhatthe
scorchedearthcampaigndidtoher.Theyburnedallthehouses,allthelandhereinLasPiletas,
everythingwasburned,wecamebackwithourarmscrossed,withoutourchildrenandwithout
ourhouse,withoutclothing,withoutanything.Eventhelivestockhadbeenkilled.191
OnOctober22ndand23rd,thetroopsbegantheencirclingstrategy,inwhichtheyclosed
inandtrappedcivilianswithinthementionedvillagesanddestroyedhousesintheregionsofSan
VicenteandUsulutn.Realizingthathidinginsidetheirhomeswasnotsafe,peoplebeganto
192

abandontheirhousesandfleetonearbymountains,ravines,andgorges. Manysoughtrefuge

188

Informeespecialsobremasacresduranteelconflicto:ComisindelaVerdad.March07,2005:28-30.
TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),5.Salvadoreo
desaparecidoenguerrahace33aossereencuentraconsufamilia,
LaPrensaGrafica,May24,2014.
190
IntervieweeMartaArias,InterviewbyAngelinaGodoy,LaQuesera,Usulutn,ElSalvador,February18,2015.
191
IntervieweeMilagroMartnez,InterviewbyAngelinaGodoy,LaQuesera,Usulutn,ElSalvador,February18,
2015.
192
TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),5.
189

33

193

inthecantnofLaQuesera,whileothersfledtoLinaresCaulotalandotherplaces.

Other

194

civiliansformedgroupsandraninvariousdirectionstoescape.
Duringtheseescapes,manypeople,especiallyyoungchildren,drownedwhileattempting
195

toswimacrosstheLempaRiver. SurvivorsclaimthattheAirForcebombedtheraftsthat
fleeingvillagersusedtocrosstheLempaRiver,

196

whichresultedindrowningandsweepingof

197

thebodiesdowntheLemparivercurrent. Manypeopleintheareasrecalledseeingcorpses
floatingdowntheriveraftertheoperation,whichthemilitaryofficialsreportedasanumberof
199

terrorists198whohadcrossedtheriver.
Childrenandwomensufferedthemostfromtheviolence.200Whencaughtbythesoldiers,
childrenwerereportedlyforcedontotheirkneesandwomenontheirbacksthenexecutedwith
201

machine-guns. Manychildrenweretakenawaybyhelicoptersandthrownouttowardsthe
LempaRiverthosewhodidntfallintotheriverwerefoundonlandortreesbytheriver.202Asa
survivordescribed,
Butwesaw[...]theplanesandhelicoptersthrow[children]out.Theywentupinthe
planeandthrewthemintotheLempariver,tiedupwithreeds.[When]wewenttolook
forthem,wesawthelargenumberofyoungchildrenthattheykilledandputinthe
trenches.Somehadheadhangingbyreedsinthesticks.Othergirlswerefound,dead,
sittingonstakes.203

193

TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),5.
LaLempa,ElRinandElCastaoriver,ElFilnandLaCarboneramountains,banksofLomadelPjaro,SanJuan
deLetrn,andSantaClara.
195
TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),7.
196
CynthiaG.Brown,
July20,1982supplementtotheReportonhumanrightsinElSalvador(NewYork,NY:
AmericasWatchCommittee,1982).
197
ElSalvador,in
AnnualReport2005,(BuenosAires:EquipoArgentinodeAntropologiaForense,2005),103
.
198
CynthiaG.Brown,
July20,1982supplementtotheReportonhumanrightsinElSalvador(NewYork,NY:
AmericasWatchCommittee,1982):
25.
199
InformeespecialsobremasacresduranteelconflictoComisindelaVerdad.March07,2005,25.
200
ElSalvador,in
AnnualReport2005,(BuenosAires:EquipoArgentinodeAntropologiaForense,2005),103
.
201
TacticalsousedintheElMozoteMassacre
202
IntervieweeSalvadorGarcia,InterviewbyAngelinaGodoy,LaQuesera,Usulutn,ElSalvador,February20,20
15.
203
IntervieweeMartaArias,InterviewbyAngelinaGodoy,LaQuesera,Usulutn,ElSalvador,February20,20
15.
194

34

Anumberofchildrenwereforciblytakenawayfromtheirfamiliesbysoldiersmanyof
204

thesechildrenswhereaboutsremainunknowneventoday.

OnOctober24th,themilitaryoperationintensified.Pregnantwomen,womenwithsmall
children,alongwiththesick,elderly,andotherswhowereunabletoescapeweremurderedin
theirhomes.205Manywomen,regardlessofage,wererapedandsexuallyabusedinfrontoftheir
familiesbeforetheywereexecuted.MartaArias,asurvivorofthemassacre,watchedher
daughterdieinfrontofhereyes,astheytookawaymytenyearolddaughter[...]theyrapedmy
girl,torturedher,killedher,andchoppedherintopieces.206
Somewomenwerehungbytheirhandkerchiefsoraproncords,thrownfromhelicopters
intotheLempaRiver,207beheaded,orkilledwithgunfire,whileotherswerepiercedthrough
208

theirgenitals. Somewomenwereputasidetocookforthearmedforces,thensystematically
209

rapedandmurdered. Remainsweredispersedonpaths,ravines,andbanksalongthecantns
andmanyofthemwereeatenbybirdsandotheranimals.210
OnOctober25th,guerrillaforcesattemptedtodynamitearailroadbridge500meters
fromtheOroBridgethattheyhaddestroyed,asitwastheonlyremaininglinkbetweenSan
211

MarcosandSanNicolasLempa. Morethanonehundredguerrillasarrivedinsmallboatson

204

UnitedStatesDepartmentofJusticeExecutiveOfficeforImmigrationReviewImmigrationCourtMiami,Florida.
Inthematterof:JoseGuillermoGarca-Merino,Removalproceedings.ExpertReportofProfessorTerryL.Karl.
205
TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),6.
206
IntervieweeMartaArias,InterviewbyAngelinaGodoy,LaQuesera,Usulutn,ElSalvador,February18,2015.
207
28AosdelaMasacreenLaQuesera.NoticiasdelaUniversidaddeCentroamericana.October29,2009.
208
TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticiayPaz.(SanSalvador:2006),7.
209
ElSalvador,in
AnnualReport2005,(BuenosAires:EquipoArgentinodeAntropologiaForense,2005),103.
210
Ibid.
211
AttackedoccurredonOctober23accordingtoElDiarioDeHoy

35

212

theLempaRiver,butweredetectedbythemilitary. Inresponse,onOctober28ththearmy
213

declaredtheareabetweentheOroBridgeandrailroadbridgeamilitaryzone.
AccordingtotheSalvadorangovernment,October27thwastheyearslargestarmydrive
againstguerrillas.2141,200troopsfromtheAtlacatlBrigadejoinedthe1,600troopsalongthe
LempaRiver.Whilepreviousoffensivesofthatyearinvolvednomorethan2,000soldiers,2,800
215

soldierswerebroughttotheBajoLemparegionbecauseitwasdeclaredasamilitaryzone.
OnOctober30th,thetroopsbegantoretire,butnotwithouttheSalvadoranAirForce
helicopterslaunchingbombsanddevices,killingandwoundingthosewhoremainedinthe
216

region.
MediaCoverage
TheSalvadoranmediafocusedextensivelyontheFMLNsdestructionofthebridgeand
itsthreatsagainstthegovernment.AccordingtotheSalvadorannewspaper,
ElDiariodeHoy,
theCommitteeofthePressoftheArmedForces(COPREFA)reportedthatthemilitaryoperation
intheBajoLemparegioninOctober1981wascarriedoutagainsttheguerrillainsurgentswho
bombedtheOroBridge.217Themilitaryjustifiedtheviolenceaseradicationofterrorist
activitiesintheregion,TheCOPREFAassuredthat[...]themilitaryhasundertakentoeradicate
terroristactionsfromtheareathathavebeenharmingtheSalvadoranpeople.Theyarefinished.
218

212

AROUNDTHEWORLDRebelPlanFailsatSalvadorBridge,
TheGlobeandMail,October261981.
AroundtheWorldSalvadoranCommandosRaidRebelRegion,NewYorkTimes,October29,1981Lempa
BridgesAreaFortified,ElDiariodeHoy,October281981
214
MajorOperationLaunched,
ElMundo,October27,1981
215
AroundtheWorldSalvadoranCommandosRaidRebelRegion,NewYorkTimes,October29,1981
216
TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticayPaz.
217
Ibid,10.
218
Ibid,10.
213

36

COPREFAalsoinformedthemediathat132terroristsdiedinthemilitaryoperationand
219

thatthebodieswereburiedtoavoidapossibleepidemic, contradictingthevarioustestimonies
220

andforensicinvestigationthatreportdeathsofapproximately350to500. Furthermore,the
armysallegedburialofthebodiescontradictedtheforensicreportthatindicatedthatbodies
wereexposedtoopenairandanimalsforuptotwotothreeweeks.221
USgovernmentdocumentsalsorevealclearawarenessoftheviolenceintheBajoLempa
regionduringthe10daysofOctober20thtoOctober30th,1981,andsubsequentlydeclassified
documentsrevealabehind-the-scenesawarenessthatatrocitieswerebeingcommitted,though
thiswasnevermadepublicatthetime.AccordingtoaNovember7thcablesentbyU.S.
AmbassadorDeaneHinton,ItisparticularlydisturbingtohavedetailedreportsofSalvadoran
massacresofwomenandchildrenalongtheRioLempaandChalatenango.Indeed,ourown
officialswerewitnessestoamachinegunattackonapparentlyunarmedciviliansbyhelicopter.
222

Aftermath
Severaloftheexhumationsitesonlycontainedincompleteorfragmentedhumanbones
collectedbypeopleandburiedweeksafterthemassacre.Manyoftheseboneswerefragmented
duetoperi-mortemtrauma,likegunshotwoundsandhighvelocityexplosions,andpost-mortem
traumacausedbyerosionandenvironmentaldegradation.Asaresult,thesefragmentsare
particularlydifficulttoidentifybyscientiststoconfirmexactnumbers.Inaddition,sincemany

219

TutelaLegaldelArzobispado.
ComisionArquidiocesanadeJusticayPaz.9
ElSalvador,in
AnnualReport2005,(BuenosAires:EquipoArgentinodeAntropologiaForense,2005),103.
221
Ibid.
222
ElinorJ.Brecher,EnvoysWroteofSalvadorAbuses,
TheMiamiHerald,October312000
220

37

civiliansfledfromtowntotownduringtheattacks,itwasdifficulttopinpointwherethepeople
buriedinmassgravesoriginatedfrom.223
Despitesuchdifficulties,EAAFwasabletoconfirm376deaths,thoughestimatesare
between350to500deaths.224ItalsoprovedthatCOPREFAsreportsonthenumberofdeath
andclaimofburialwerefalse.Investigatorsalsofoundcoinsdatednolaterthan1981,
correlatingwiththeyearofthemassacreattackandprovidinganotherlayerofproofthatsuch
225

attacksdidoccur.
OnFebruary28th,2011,Pro-Bsquedahelpedfamiliesof13forciblydisappeared
childrenfiletheirfirstcollectivecomplaintbeforethefiscalofficeofUsulutntoinvestigatethe
whathadhappened,providejusticetothevictims,andidentifythewhereaboutsofthese
disappearedchildren.226Pro-Bsquedahasthusfarreceived19complaintsofdisappeared
childrenfromLaQuesera.Ofthesecases,fivechildrenwerefoundandreunitedwiththeir
families:threechildrenwerefoundinFrance,onechildinBelgium,and
BeatrizLpezofthe
UnitedStateswasfoundandreunitedwithherfamilyin2012.However,whileprogresshasbeen
227

made,themajorityoffamilieswholostchildrenarestillsearchingfortheirlovedones.
Conclusion
Massacresofcivilianpopulationsinruralareasoccurredsystematicallyunderthe
governmentsassumptionthatthatcivilianswhodidnotwanttocooperatewiththeinsurgents

223

ElSalvador,in
AnnualReport2005,(BuenosAires:EquipoArgentinodeAntropologiaForense,2005),104.
Ibid,103-4.
225
Ibid,110
.
226
AsociacinPro-Bsqueda,VctimasdemandaninvestigardesaparicionesdurantelaMasacredeLaQuesera,
accessedJanuary8,2015.
http://www.probusqueda.org.sv/victimas-demandan-investigar-a-la-fiscalia-general-de-la-republica-el-paradero-de-losninos-y-ninas-desaparecidos-durante-la-masacre-de-la-quesera/.
227
EugenioCastro,MassacreLaQuesera:EsTiempoDeRecordar
DiarioCoLatino.com,January122013
224

38

wouldleaveareaswithhighinsurgencypresence,whichconcludedthatallwhoremainedin
228

areaswithhighguerrillawereallegedlycollaborators. AstheInter-AmericanCourtexpresses
initsjudgmentintheElMozotecase,
Thephenomenonofthemassacresoccurreddeliberatelyaspartofastrategy
systematicallyplannedbytheArmedForcesofElSalvador[thus]itcannotbeargued
thattheinnumerablemassexecutionsofthecivilianpopulationwereisolatedactsof
violenceofwhichtheseniorauthoritiesoftheArmedForcedandtheGovernmentin
powerwereunaware.Tothecontrary,theywereinsertedinandwereacentralpartofa
229
specificcounterinsurgencypolicyoftheState.
Whilethisreportprovidespreliminaryinformationaboutthemassacre,itisonlyonestep
indocumentingwhatreallytranspiredinordertorecognizeElSalvadorspastatrocitiesand
presentstruggleforrestorationandreconciliationafterdecadesofviolence.Thescopeandscale
ofthekillingsatLaQueserashowthatthenotoriousmassacreofElMozotewasnottheonly
incidentofviolenceintheSalvadorancivilwar.Muchmoreattentionisneededtoensurethat
sucheventsarenotforgottenandthatvictimsandsurvivorsareabletoaccessthetruthaboutthe
fateoftheirlostlovedones.AsthefounderofPro-BsquedaJonCortinahasalwaysinsisted,
thereisawoundamongSalvadoranparents,children,andsocietythatcannothealuntilpeople
230

knowthetruthandjusticeisdone.

228

TommieSueMontgomery.
RevolutioninElSalvador:FromCivilStrifetoCivilPeace,SecondEdition(Boulder:
WestviewPress,19951981ElSalvadorAnnualReport,AmnestyInternational
229
Inter-AmericanCourtofHumanRights.CaseoftheMassacresofElMozoteandneighboringlocationsv.El
Salvador,Merits,ReparationsandCosts,JudgmentofOctober25,2012,I/ACourtH.R.,SeriesCNo.252(2012).
230
LauraBriggs,
SomebodysChildren:ThePoliticsofTransracialandTransnationalAdoption(Durham,North
Carolina:DukeUniversityPress,2012):177

39

Timeline

Date(allin1981)

September14

Armytroopsbeginsearchanddestroy
missionsagainstguerrillasin8ofEl
Salvadors14provinces,withtheheaviest
fightingreportedinSanVicenteandUsulutn
231

September30

FMLNsquadconductedharassmentoperation
againstobservationpostintownof
Jucuarn,
UsulutnDepartment.Simultaneously,
anothersquadconductedanattackatMarin
BridgeovertheRioGrandeofSanMiguelat
Jucuarnjurisdiction232

October15

OroBridgedestroyedbyguerrillaforces233

October17

USadvisersinahelicopterwitnessedthepilot
openfireonagroupofSalvadoranpeasants.
Simultaneously,reportedfightingbetween
FMLNandarmedforces.

October20

Firstofficialdayofthemassacre

October21

Salvadorangovernmentmadeclaimsthe
bridgedestructionoftheOroBridgewasnot
FMLNbutby600Cubancommandos,claims
deniedbyguerrillaforces.234

October22

FMLNplatoonunderCompaeroRoberto
attackedarmyforcesintownofSan
FranciscoJavier.Armyreportedlysought
refugeincivilianhomes.235

October23

SeveralsquadsofFMLNfightersontheEl
LitoralroadtoUsulutanattackedarmy
convoys,resultedinmoretroopsarrivingat
thesceneandguerrillaforceswithdrew.236

231

AROUNDTHEWORLDSalvadoranArmyBeginsDriveAgainstRebels,
NewYorkTimes,September15,1981.
SoutheasternFrontWarReport,RadioVenceremos,Oct.21981.
233
AROUNDTHEWORLDRebelPlanFailsatSalvadorBridge,NewYorkTimes,October26,1981.
234
FMLNDeniesReportsofCubanCommandos,
RadioVenceremos,October21,1981.
235
AttacksonGovernmentTroops,
RadioVenceremos(October27,1981).
236
Ibid.
232

40

October25

Guerrillaforcesattemptedtodynamitea
railroadbridge500metersfromthealready
destroyedOrobridge,butweredetectedby
thearmy.

October26

Troopsbegantogatherinthearea,planes
seenflyingoverChichontepecVolanco.
SomeplanesweretransportingAtlacatl
Battaliontroopswhileotherswereperforming
missionswheretheguerrillacampswere
operating.237

October27

Sixteenarmycompanies,including
helicopters,anairbornebattalionunit,
reconnaissanceplanes,AtlacatlBattalion,and
soldiersfromregimentsinUsulutnand
Zacatecolucaattackedregions.238

October28

ArmydeclaredzonebetweenOrobridgeand
therailroadbridgeasamilitaryzone.Area
comprisesapproximately10square
kilometersaroundthetwobridges.239

Yearslargestattackinthearea,reportedly
2800soldiersinregionattime.Previous
operationsoftheyearinvolvednomorethan
2000soldiers.240

October29-30

SupposedlastdayofLaQueseramassacre

237

MajorOperationLaunched,
ElMundo,October27,1981.
LempaBridgeAreaFortified,ElDiarioDeHoy,October28,1981.
239
Ibid.
240
AROUNDTHEWORLDSalvadoranCommandosRaidRebelRegion,TheNewYorkTimes,October29,1981.
238

41

Maps

241

Figure1

241

Fig.1.ElSalvadorMaps.TheUniversityofTexasatAustin.

42


242

Figure2

242

Fig.2.ElSalvadorMaps.TheUniversityofTexasatAustin.

43

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