I don't know if this one is the one with the most deaths. But certainly is one that affects me a lot. One that was very recent. I mean, in ancient times, armies entering a town and killing every villager was not unheard of. But I am talking about a massacre that took place just 35 years ago. Another chilling thing is that the perpetrators were the country's army, killing their own people.
The Mozote Massacre in El Salvador took place December 11th, 1981. El Mozote was a small village of about 1000 inhabitants, poor people, farmers mostly. During that time, the civil war had just broken in and there was the government's army fighting the guerrilla (FMLN). This war originated because only 14 families owned all of the country's wealth. Because the workers were exploited, because the salaries were not fair, because a lot of people were starving to death while others had a great life in complete disregard of the people they were exploiting.
Most of the farmers and people living in poverty would support the guerrilla. Would feed them, hide them when hunted, or join them.
General Domingo Monterrosa, the leader of the Atlacatl battalion came up with an idea. He thought that removing the guerrilla from the country was difficult because they were being helped and of course, were armed and ready to fight. But removing the people that helped them, feed them and hid them was easier, since it was poor people with no guns, no fighting skills and scared to death.
On December 11th, 1981, The Atlacatl Battalion entered the Mozote village, got EVERY SINGLE villager inside the town's church, the convent and other houses and executed them. Women and girls were raped first before killing them with machine guns. Some reports talk about the children being killed by slitting their throats and hanging them from trees. In a few hours, almost 1,000 people died. Men, women and children alike. The soldier later the next day went to a neighboring village to do the same. As cruel as any ancient barbaric attack, just that this happened not too long ago.
The government tried to minimize the story. During that time, Reagan was financing the government Army and US officials said that the reports by several news Agencies were "gross exaggerations"....
Years later, after the war ceased, there was amnesty to all the parties involved in war. Justice never happened for the Mozote inhabitants who died on December 11th, 1981. Although the Interamerican Court of Human Rights requested the government to investigate, justice has not been served.
In 2012, the Government of El Salvador publicly apologized for the Mozote massacre. However, the President at the time was a left wing President that was elected as part of the FMLN party (ex guerrilla group, now political party). The right wing party, the ones more closely involved, never apologized, and their politicians and supporters never discuss these massacres. They insist that "nothing really happened" and when this massacre and many others come into discussion, they are rapidly brushed off with a "the past is the past" or "but the guerrilla also killed a lot of soldiers and detonated bridges". According to the report of the Commission on the Truth of El Salvador, 85% of war crimes were committed by the army and 15% by the guerrilla.
Currently, DNA testing is being done to establish identity of the remains found, to offer some degree of closure to the relatives (although, closure will never be achieved without justice).
This is not the only massacre. There is a long long list of massacres in El Salvador during war and before that. During the early 30s, 32000 farmers were killed over the course of one month, because they were protesting the poor conditions of work, the exploitation, the starving, the long hours, the mock pay -some Hacienda owners will pay their workers with "hacienda money", not real money but tokens that were only valid in, guess... the Hacienda store.
Tears fill my eyes every time I think about what happened to these people. About what happened to Mons. Romero and the Jesuits who were assassinated by the same Army that swore to protect their people. Disappointment fill my heart when I hear how many Salvadorans have decided to ignore history.
Neteller here: www.ituglobalfx.com.ng