StudyBoss » El Salvador » How To Sympathize El Salvador

How To Sympathize El Salvador

In 1981, El Salvador was engaged in a brutal Civil war between the right-wing government supported army and several tiny left-wing “reformist” groups, or the guerrillas. The right wing is the conservative or reactionary section of a political party or system and the left wing is the liberal, socialist, or radical section of a political party or system. The rightist leaders, at the time of this war were in charge of the government, the “reformists” felt that they were not given a voice in their society. They felt as if, year after year, “the military stole the ballot” (24) from their representatives.

In other words, the war began because, “El Salvador’s stunted political development increasingly split the country…” (24). The military viewed the “reformists” behavior as “communist agitation” and they felt that the only way to combat this behavior was through a “dirty war”. Americans have always been Anti-communist advocates and felt it was necessary to fund the El Salvadoran army in the war against the guerrillas. The Americans also helped by training some members of the army, called the Atlacatl Battalion. They were known for their aggressiveness and fierceness and were regarded as the army that was willing to do the job.

The rest of the army was regarded as badly trained and incompetent compared to the battalion and this worried the Americans. Ronald Regan, the president in 1981 during the war, decided to double the funding of the Salvadoran war in hopes that the funding would assure that the El Salvadoran Army would emerge victorious. This only put more pressure on the army to win, and they knew that defeating the guerrillas was not something that would come easy. The commander of the Atlacatl Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Domingo Monterrosa Barrios, had a plan that he thought would give his army the upper hand in the war.

He believed in a strategy called La Limpieza, in which the parts of El Salvador that the army believed to be controlled by the guerrillas would be dried up in order to cut out the cancer that was Communism (52). El Mozote was a town that was based in a suspected zone that was “infected” by Communism, meaning they would be targeted by the army. Near Arambala, a couple miles away from El Salvador, the army engaged the guerrillas and suffered a major loss. After twenty-two days of battling at Arambala, the guerrillas managed to flee and take two thousand civilians with them.

The rest of the army went into Arambala to “cut out the cancer,” while the other part was trying to find the guerrillas. In Arambala the officers had lists that told them who the guerrilla sympathizers were in order to know who to kill, but it was in Arambala that these lists ended. The lack of lists meant the operation’s direction had to change when they reached El Mozote (57-61). Most of the people of El Mozote decided to stay in their town because of the reassurances of a wealthy respected man. This man, Marcos Diaz, promised his neighbors that the soldiers would not bother them as long as they stayed in their homes.

Because El Mozote had never been a militant town, and didn’t sympathize with either side, they found this to be another reason to believe the words of Marcos Diaz. Civilians from other towns also decided to stay in El Mozote hoping that they would be safe and could return back to their lives as soon as the soldiers moved out of their area. The day before the massacre at El Mozote, when the officers entered El Mozote, they ordered people to come out of their homes and made them lie in the dirt while they beat and questioned them about the guerrillas.

The people of El Mozote assured the officers that they had no knowledge about the guerrillas and were not sympathizers, but the soldiers were not convinced. They eventually ordered the civilians back into their homes and made sure they did not rest. The children wailed and no one slept, fearing what tomorrow might bring. The next day, the people were again ordered to come out of their homes, only this time they were split into groups and ordered to form lines. The men were separated from the women and children and they stood in these lines for several hours.

Next, the men were ordered inside the church, and this is where the massacre began. The men were killed, beheaded, and shot. Most of the bodies were burnt down with the church. Next, the officers pulled the young women and girls away from their mothers. The girls were taken away to later be raped and killed. The next to go were the older women. They were being led to a different house to be killed and then have their bodies burnt with the building with the men. Finally, the officers led the children to the sacristy and killed them. Some of the children were shot, while others were hanged and stabbed.

After everyone was believed to be dead, the soldiers began setting all the buildings on fire and killing everyone that they found still alive. The soldiers finished off the girls when they had finished raping them, then they began to kill all the animals they saw. After they were sure that nothing remained alive at El Mozote, the officers made their way to the next town, Los Toriles to kill the rest of the people in the “communist infected” zones. What happened at El Mozote was one of the most disgusting and horrific war stories that I have ever heard.

The eyewitness accounts of some of the soldiers present and the stories that the survivors provided, made a historical event come to life. Imagining what these people went through that day, losing everything they have ever known and choosing to fight to live to tell the story had to be the most difficult experience. The story of the massacre at El Mozote is heartbreaking and the United States’ choice to sweep this under the rug in order to maintain their funding to the Salvadoran Army, was very disturbing.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.