“We’re Against Impunity, Against Forgetting”
It has been twenty years since six Jesuit priests from the Central American University (UCA) in San Salvador
and the two women who worked for them were assassinated.
At that time, San Salvador’s streets were rocked
by an audacious guerrilla offensive.
The murder of the Jesuits helped bring an end to that war.
On June 1 this year, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa
visited the UCA and spoke the following words,
which we offer here in remembrance of the
lives of our sisters and brothers.
Dear compañeras and compañeros: In our America, memory is subversive. In each of our nations, we struggle against impunity, against forgetting. Here, in these open grounds of the Central American University, little lamps are lit every November, and used to light others, which are passed from hand to hand, from word to word, symbolizing the example of light and consequentialness those martyrs ignited on November 16th, 1989.
They gave their heartsThe ongoing struggle to change the living conditions of our people is our lifelong profession, our song of love, the celebration of memory. Because Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín Baró, Segundo Montes, Juan Ramón Moreno, Amando López, Joaquín López, and Elba and Celina Ramos, all murdered, were helping many “Christs” down from their crosses, were giving their hearts, cultivating dignity, risking their souls for the poor and needy.
We don’t really need to state the names of the people who killed a few “communist” priests. The whole world knows which side fired the shots, which side encouraged this crime against these martyrs accused of being terrorists because they identified with Liberation Theology, with the preferential option for the poor adopted in Puebla and promoted in the “Populorum Progressio” encyclical as the progressive doctrine of the Catholic Church.
Well, they’ll have to kill all of us who believe in the word of Christ. Of course the powerful have been trying, unsuccessfully, since the times of primitive Christianity, since the Roman catacombs. Foolishly, they’ve tried over and over again, and each time they try to kill our hope, it grows stronger and stronger.
“Ellacuría is a guerrilla, cut off his head!” and “We have to get Ellacuría and spit him out dead!” were some of the rantings we heard, broadcast over the radio just days before the massacre. Without a doubt, similar phrases were uttered in the times of Pontius Pilate.
The truth must be exposedWe celebrate memory, we honor life. Thus, our unwavering position against impunity, against forgetting.
Those who sowed death in our countrysides and cities, who tortured and disappeared so many thousands of men and women, who killed Monsignor Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who murdered the martyrs of the UCA, must account for their wrongdoing. They must be judged and must pay for their crimes against humanity.
They are the same ones as always; they represent the groups that have always held all power in each of our countries, the gentlemen of the shadows, who delivered death instead of bread, who shot their bullets at books, at the free. Their contempt for true freedom makes them squander rivers of ink to offend us, to lie. They could never learn how to love their country, their brothers, the peasants, their history, their time, their town, who they were and where they came from, when love came down from the mountains with the muchachos singing for life at the top of their lungs.
Twenty years after the massacre, it’s imperative and unavoidable to uncover the truth about these crimes. The struggle against impunity is the road that will take us to a new society in which there’s no reason to be afraid and where injustice is part of an abject past. If the killers can stroll through the streets, there’s little hope for justice and dignity in Latin America.
The murder of the Jesuit priests, of Elba and Celina, their lives and their profession of love are all part of the path toward victory, toward building peace with justice. This is why we cannot forget.
Jon Sobrino, the only one who survived the massacre, says that they killed them “for being the critical conscience of a sinful society, and the creative conscience of a new society that will come in the distant future.”
We’re living in new timesThe election of Mauricio Funes vindicates El Salvador’s hope, never lost, never assassinated. ‘I give thanks to misfortune/and the hand with the dagger/because it killed me so poorly/that I kept on singing…’ intone the voices of hope from every corner of Our America.
These are times of dignity. They are new times. We pay a deeply felt tribute to the Salvadoran people in their new stage as they build democracy. A huge embrace to President Mauricio Funes. And a homage to the memory of all of the women and men whose efforts are making possible a new El Salvador that will hold a place of dignity among the concert of free peoples in our great land.
We’re joining hands with the brothers we’ve met, hands of all colors, building a continental solidarity to honor the dreams of our predecessors: the dreams of Farabundo Martí, of Eloy Alfaro, of Monsignor Óscar Arnulfo Romero, of Monsignor Leónidas Proaño, of Simón Bolívar, of Francisco Morazán, of Roque Dalton, integrationists and profound humanists, people of light, great souls and a love of country, our immense America.
To reach this point, we have physically walked the same road as the assassins, but we came with life, affection and hope.
We are for life, brothers and sisters. Our guiding star is the South. The future is ours, Salvadoran brothers and sisters. Onward to victory!