El Faro has a long piece on the Salvadoran Army’s continued reverence of war criminal Lt. Coronel Domingo Monterrosa. Two years ago, President Funes publicly apologized for the state’s role in the massacre at El Mozote (where over 800 civilians, mostly women and children, were massacred by the Salvadoran Army in 1981). At the same event, Funes, who as president is also the Army’s commander-in-chief, ordered the army to stop treating these war criminals as heroes.
After all, it is not as if the army hides its feelings towards some of the worst human rights abusers from the Civil War. The military base in San Miguel is named after Monterrosa, which sits on the Panamerican Highway for all the world to see. Inside the base, according to El Faro, there is a statue and a ¨Monterrosa Vive!¨ mural. In La Union, the military base is named after Major José Armando Azmitia who was also in charge of the Atlacatl battalion (the US-trained special forces battalion responsible for Mozote and numerous other human rights violations during the war)
Anyway, on October 23, the army held a big homage/lovefest for Monterrosa and Azmitia in Joateca to mourn the day they were killed in 1984. The story is that Monterrosa, who was obsessed with capturing the guerrilla radio, Radio Venceremos, fell into a trap. The guerrillas left the radio transmitter behind in a battle and the army found it, radioed Monterrosa, who triumphantly brought it on board his helicopter to take it back to the army base. Unfortunately for him, the radio was a bomb and the guerrillas detonated it, killing Monterrosa and Azmitia in a huge victory for the guerrillas. The army, on the other hand, claims that the helicopter crash had nothing to do with this ¨bomb¨ and simply crashed due to a mechanical failure. You can decide which side you believe.
Two comments on this continued celebration of these war criminals. First, as the article points out, this is a direct disregard of President Funes orders, which is a crime. Do you think anybody will do anything about it? Second, on a more pessimistic note, can we really be surprised that the army and some members of the ARENA party (founded by Roberto D’Aubuisson, leader of the death-squads, probable killer of Romero) still pay tribute to these thugs?