School of the Americas Watch in El Salvador for Monsignor Romero Day

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Last week, a School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) delegation, accompanied by SOAW founder Father Roy Bourgeois, visited El Salvador to make contact with Salvadoran allies, commemorate the life of Monsignor Oscar Romero and ask Salvadoran government officials to stop sending military personnel for training at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC, formerly known as the School of the Americas).

At a public event on Wednesday, March 20 Father Bourgeois spoke about WHINSEC, focusing on its counterinsurgency training, where Salvadoran death squad leaders were instructed in torture and repression, and how its graduates continue to wreak havoc in Latin America, most recently in Honduras. He also spoke about the history of protest and organization in the US against the Georgia-based Institute, and Honduras-based SOAW activists spoke about their work. At one point during the event, US SOAW activists asked forgiveness from their Salvadoran allies for the role played by their government in the violent massacres, disappearances and repression of the Salvadoran Civil War.

On Tuesday, March 19 the SOAW delegation gathered at the Monument to Truth and Memory to reiterate their call for the Salvadoran government to stop sending military officers to WHINSEC and to publically ask forgiveness as US citizens and taxpayers.

Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero

Sunday, March 24 marked the 33rd anniversary of Monsignor Romero’s assassination orchestrated by the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party founder, death squad leader and School of the America’s graduate Roberto D’Aubuisson. The SOAW delegation participated in activities organized by the Salvadoran social movement to commemorate Romero’s life and martyrdom, including a march and all-night vigil.

The President of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, made a televised statement that was broadcast on all network and cable television stations on March 24, in which he called Romero’s murder a “horrendous crime” and reiterated his government’s promise to follow in the archbishop’s commitment to serve the country’s impoverished majority. Funes also thanked Pope Francis for recent statements hoping Romero would be canonized as soon as possible.

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