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El Salvador: 30th Anniversary of Assassination of Oscar Romero

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.

Photo by Global Opportunity Garden and used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by Global Opportunity Garden and used under a Creative Commons license.

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.

What is new about all this is that one of the participants in the assassination, Saravia, incriminates his accomplices, above all a group of public figures in this murder. His indirect accomplices are people who still are participating in politics and in the economic area […] Now, these are not just rumors, the statements can be used as proof for an eventual investigation and trial if they want, in order to deduce those responsible.

El Faro releases a video with audio of the interview accompanied by English subtitles:

Some bloggers take the opportunity to posts poems about Romero, such as this one [es] from Chichipate Canaverales and this poem [es] written by “Mariposa” on Sura's Blog.

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.

When I was 11 years-old on a March night at around 8 at night, I heard the news on the radio that (Romero) was murdered, I was in a stupor, I could not believe it, but even at that age, I knew that killing in El Salvador during that time was an everyday occurrence.

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.

3 comments

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RayBeckerman, Global Voices, BiancaLaureano, Erin Kreeger, RuFreeman and others. RuFreeman said: El Salvador: 30th Anniversary of Assassination of Oscar Romero http://ping.fm/GeuHf […]

  • Loquemata Seramuerto

    Who was behind the assassination of Holy Mr. Romero? Who was interested on his death, I think should be a debate here in this website about it. Do you remember Carter? Holy Mr. Romero wrote a letter to President Carter pleading with him – in vain – not send aid to the military junta, who “know only how to repress the people and defend the interests of the Salvadorean oligarchy” and will use the aid “to destroy the people’s organizations fighting to defend their fundamental human rights.” … Yes brothers and sisters the real history is behind the news covered with blood of the riches and their wealthy money to protect the interests of big money and the empire and its status quo. The “Washington’s School of the Americas, famous for its training of Latin American killers, proudly announced as one of its “talking points” that liberation theology was “defeated with the assistance of the US army” – given a helping hand, to be sure by the Vatican, using the gentler means of expulsion and suppression.” Great words who help us nowadays to understand the REAL culprits behind these cowardly assassinations. Research, study, read the facts trough the people who know the facts in the side of the poor not in the side of the oppressors. It’s a matter of time, all empires fall.

  • […] (March 24, 2010) is the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Monseñor Óscar Romero. And this year for the 1st time the government of El Salvador will commemorate his death. We do so […]

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