- November 19, 2009
- 1:33 pm
- Julia Lieblich
Remembering El Salvador’s Martyrs
Twenty years ago this month the Salvadoran military murdered six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in the middle of the night. Veteran journalist Frank Smyth, who covered El Salvador for CBS News Radio and The Economist, remembers the priests in his article, “El Salvador’s Cold War Martyrs.”
Students in Communication Practices Tuesday conducted a telephone interview with Smyth, who told them that the military did not kill the Jesuits because of what they taught their students.
“No, the nation’s U.S.-backed military commanders most likely killed them because the Jesuits led by (Ignacio) Ellacuria had consistently advocated a negotiated end to the nation’s long civil war … Ellacuria was among the first to point out that negotiations leading to a peace accord was not only the only way to end the fighting, but to also save the nation’s overwhelmingly poor population from more needles suffering.”
“Why was the Jesuits’ support of the negotiations to end the civil war so threatening to the Salvadoran government?” asked freshman Zachery Debiasi.
If the war ended with a negotiated settlement, Smyth said, the military would have lost its powerful place in society. “They were intent on continuing a campaign to achieve a military victory.”