Each year on March 24, the people of El Salvador and around the world commemorate the life of Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated by hitmen as he celebrated mass in a chapel of a San Salvador hospital. It is believed that he was targeted for his outspoken beliefs against the repressive Salvadoran government that had been committing human rights abuses during the Civil War that had been occurring.
Traditionally, March has been the month where events are held to honor Romero, and the year 2010 is extra special because it marks the 30th anniversary of the murder. Carlos X. Colorado posts a guide on Tim's El Salvador Blog for what to expect during the celebrations, including a possible statement from the Vatican, which could provide a clue as to the current state of the beatification process. He also adds that this celebration is unique because:
Thirty will be the largest round-number yet associated with a Romero anniversary, and the rise to power of the Left, with a President (Mauricio Funes) who openly touts Romero as his moral guide, raise a lot of expectations about the magnitude of this year's event.
However, another piece of news is attracting the attention of Salvadoran bloggers. One of the assassination plotters, Álvaro Rafael Saravia, a former officer in the Salvadoran Armed Forces was interviewed by the online magazine El Faro [es]. In the interview, Saravia revealed more details of the murder. Even though Saravia did not provide new information, as pointed out by Reyzope of the blog El Trompudo [es] , the interview was interesting because Saravia implicated with names those that had been involved. Much of the information had been uncovered from unclassified documents and from investigations conducted by Truth Commissions. However, now there are firsthand public statements from individuals involved with the killing:
lo nuevo en todo esto es que uno de los participantes del asesinato, Saravia, incrimina a sus complices, a todo un grupo de personalidades públicas en este asesinato. Sus cómplices indirectos, gente que aún tiene participación en la cosa política y económica, […] Entonces, estos ya no son simples rumores, y las declaraciones pueden ser utilizadas como prueba en una eventual investigación y juicio que se inicie, si se quiere, para deducir responsables.
El Faro releases a video with audio of the interview accompanied by English subtitles:
One blogger, Raúl Fuentes of the blog Hunnapuh [es] was just 11 years-old when Romero was murdered, but he recalls his firsthand contact with Romero, when Fuentes was a member of a Children's Choir in the community of Santiago de Maria in the Department of Usulután, where Romero was serving as Bishop of that diocese. Fuentes recalls, “The image that I have of (Romero) is that he was a very humble and joyful person, and he was always in a good mood.” Yet, he writes about what he remembers about that night on March 24, 1980 [es]:
Cuando a los 11 años en una noche de marzo por eso de las 8 de la noche dieron la noticia en la radio de que lo habian asesinado, senti un estupor, casi no lo podia creer pero ya a esa edad sabia que matar en El Salvador de esa epoca era cosa de todos los dias.
As time passes on, many people remember Romero from what they are taught in school and stories passed on to them by their parents and grandparents. His legacy has motivated Salvadorans to follow his example, as Pocote posts thoughts on what Romero means to Salvadorans [es]:
A monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero le debemos los salvadoreños, los amantes de la justicia, de la solidaridad, de la paz social y del bien común, un fervor esencial y el ejemplo constante de una actitud: si renovó la palabra, el mensaje de la voz para los sin voz, el cumplir exactamente con el testimonio cristiano, no fue menos por su compromiso genuino con los humildes y desheredados que por su limpieza de ánimo, su generosidad y su desprendimiento. Los adjetivos no sobran: monseñor Romero fue un sacerdote bueno, tanto como el marquesote y un profeta excepcional.
Con el magnicidio de Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, todos los salvadoreños perdimos algo. Su desaparición física nos concierne y nos compromete: el fue un profeta, honrado, humilde, inteligente, talentoso y cordial.
We Salvadorans, lovers of justice, solidarity, social peace, and the common good, owe Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero an essential fervor and constant example of an attitude: he renewed the word, the message of being a voice for the voiceless, of being a Christian witness. He was no less for his genuine commitment to the poor and less privileged, than for his pure in spirit, his generosity and his selflessness. There are not enough adjectives to describe him: Monsignor Romero was a good priest and an exceptional prophet.
With the assassination of Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, all Salvadorans lost something. His physical disappearance concerns us and commits us: he was a prophet, honest, humble, intelligent, talented, and friendly.