The Jesuit Murders in El Salvador
The case of the six Jesuits and two women murdered at Central American University (UCA) in San Salvador on November 16, 1989, has come to signify, by extension, a class-action suit on behalf of the 70,000 people tortured and executed over the course of a decade by the Salvadoran Armed Forces, with the complicity of the government. The identification of all those responsible for the Jesuit murders—the intellectual authors as well as the triggermen—would provide a first step toward purging and reforming a system that has made these kinds of crimes possible. This report by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, which served as legal counsel to the Jesuits since December 1989, documents the story of the Jesuit murders in the most comprehensive history and analysis to date.
Martha Doggett establishes the background leading up to the murders—the preceding years of human rights abuses and of political distortions promulgated about the Jesuits. She then sifts through the evidence of the crime, scrutinizes the subsequent efforts at cover-up, analyzes the process of the trial itself, and identifies the high-level officials thought to be ultimately responsible for ordering and concealing the truth about the murders. She concludes that a number ofcivilians as well as military paraticlipated and that the decision was made some time before the night of the actual murders. Drawing on primary and journalistic sources, investigative reports, U.S. and Salvadoran government documents, and interviews conducted by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and other organizations, Doggett traces the military's repeated obstruction of justice and the ambivalent responses by U.S. officials courting political expediency. She observes the effects of international protests (including the report by U.S. Congressman Joe Moakley) and outlines the limitations inherent in El Salvador's legal system.
Bringing the chronicle up to the present, this volume includes the first published English-language translation of the portion of the Truth Commission report dealing with the Jesuits' case, an analysis of the Truth Commission's conclusions, and reactions to the amnesty and release from prison of all persons convicted for the crime. Appendixes include chronologies of the case and of attacks on El Salvador's Jesuits; lists of the names of all the persons figuring in the case and profiles of the defendants; the report of the Lawyers Committee's trial observer; and a list of previous publications on the case by the Lawyers Committee and UCA, as well as reports of trial observers from other organizations.
Martha Doggett, a journalist focusing on Latin American affairs, has covered the Americas for the Lawyers Committee since 1988. The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights works to protect and promote fundamental human rights by conducting fact-finding missions and publishing reports which serve as a starting point for sustained follow-up work with locally-based human rights lawyers and activists, policymakers, and intergovernmental organizations.
372 pp., 6 x 9
372 pp., 6 x 9