El Mozote after a clash with guerrillas in

El Mazote Massacre The Salvadorian Civil War, conflicts between the militarized Salvadorian government and what was known as the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front,  A guerrilla army to oppose the salvadorian government and right-wing military forces that favored the elite and wealthy.

The FMLN belonged to the left wing, which often want equality and justice for the indigenous and lower class people. El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. It shares borders with Guatemala and Honduras.

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El Salvador is divided into 14 departments and El Mozote is a village in one of the Departments called Morazan. The Salvadoran Civil War took place between 1979 and 1992. The FMLN was supported by peasants and indigenous Indian people due to the Salvadorian government favoring the wealthy and the elite. The United States supported the El Salvador Military government and in my opinion, were responsible for such tragedy. The United States contributed to the civil war by giving vast amounts of military aid during the President Carter and President Reagan administrations. The civil war that took place in El Salvador lasted more than 12 years and extreme violence was present from both the FMLN and the Salvadorian government.

El Mazote Massacre, a mass killing that took place in the village of El Mazote in Morazán department, El Salvador. On December 10, 1981, units of the Salvadoran military Atlacatl battalion  arrived at the remote village of El Mozote after a clash with guerrillas in the area. This battalion was trained by the United States Military advisors and officers.

Operación Rescate , or “Operation Rescue” was created to eliminate guerrilla presence. The night of December 10, The Atlacatl ordered the villagers of Mazote to collect in a large group and began questioning them in a violent manner. Following that, they ordered the villagers to stay locked in their homes and warned anyone who stepped out would be shot. The Following morning, the Atlacatl ordered the villagers to group up once more in which the men were separated and tortured and killed while the woman and young girls were raped and gunned down. One would think children were exempt from this but even the children were brutally killed.

The tensions between the classes, the halves and the halve-nots are therefore represented by the two warring factions. The brutal events described in Mark Danner’s Massacre at El Mozote investigates and questions three main issues which are the Massacre, the role of American Policies in the area during the Cold War and the executive cover-up of the events as Propaganda. One of the concerns is what responsibility (if any) did the U.

S. government have for the massacre at El Mozote? El Mozote was “uniquely” different from most villages because it had resisted the Liberation Theology taught by left-leaning Catholic Priests and according to the author was “as as stronghold of the Protestant evangelical movement” (pg 19) . The villagers of El Mozote had their own chapel and referred themselves as born-again Christians and as Danner states were known for “their anti-communism” (pg 19). The villagers of El Mozote did not support the guerillas. According to Danner the Massacre at El Mozote takes place when American trained Salvadoran Armed forces called the Atlacatl Batallion arrived at the village and began systematically killing men, women and children by various means such as torturing, hangings, decapitation, and shooting.

The U.S government was responsible for the massacre at El Mozote for many reasons. First, The Reagan administration was well aware of the geopolitical consequences of ceding El Salvador to “communist subversion in the hemisphere” (pg 40). Also, the growing presence of the Soviets and Cuba in Nicaragua escalated the cold war and in order to “draw the line,” the Reagan administration “doubled economic aid for El Salvador to a hundred and forty four million dollars” (pg 40).

According to Danner, “the priorities of American Policy in El Salvador had become unmistakable” (pg 41). Second, The American government was “opposed to dispatching American combat forces to Central America” (pg 22) and in order to prevent another Nicaragua, Congress agreed to “reform” the Salvadoran Army by financing, training and arming its troops to fight the FMLN. As Danner notes, “the Americans had stepped forward to fund the war, but were “unwilling to fight it”. Third, the Monterrosa led Atlacatl led batallion through American funding descended in El Mozote with “the latest M-16’s, M-60 machines guns, 90 millimeter recoilless rifles, and 60- and 81 millimeter mortars”(pg 39) which are common weaponry used by the United States and most notably the U.S Marines and with a list of names massacred an entire village because “communism was cancer”(pg 49). The U.S. government was clearly responsible for the Massacre at El Mozote because without the funding, supporting, and training of El Salvador troops the war would have been tilted in the guerrillas favor as they had managed to hold the disorganized army in certain areas.

In contrast to neighboring departments El Mozote and its inhabitants of born-again Christians did not fit in as guerrilla sympathizers. In fact, the training at American hands is questionable because the manner in which the massacre is carried with soldiers tying ropes on trees, using machetes, slitting throats of innocent villagers is not a tactic of warfare I believe America utilizes. The Cold War was about ideology and the El Salvador Army believed it was “killing Salvadorans who were sympathetic to the insurgents” (pg 53). The El Salvador military with the support of American resources violated the rules of war in killing an entire village “without trial or investigation, simply because of the political sympathies of some of their number” (pg 53). The killings carried out by the Atlacatl Batallion in El Mozote were not justice but a devalue of Human Rights.The massacre was reported by Washington Post and the New York times as told to them by Rufina Amaya Marquez, a witness of what had occurred at El Mozote. The response by the American government to news of the massacre was first denial and then portrayal of those reports as “Propaganda” by “journalist advocates” sympathetic to the guerillas cause. As the author notes, the geopolitical stakes in Central America and ensuing debate in congress did not leave the White House many options albeit cable reports and first witness accounts of the massacre in El Mozote .

According to Howard Lane, the Public Affairs Officer in the Embassy, the American Embassy was well informed as to who was orchestrating the killings especially after the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero as he said Mass (pg 28). The first reports from radio Venceremos estimated Atlacatl as having “massacred a thousand peasants and various hamlets and villages”(pg 87) but according to Danner , he commandates believed “that many hundreds had died”(pg 87). The U.S government clearly shares responsibility for the Massacre at El Mozote because as the author notes ‘it was congress that voted the money that paid for the American guns and helicopters and military advisers” (pg 90) with the false pretense of putting an end “torture and murder of Salvadoran Citizens” (pg 90) with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

I believe the American response to news of the Massacre as inadequate because of the massive cover-up by both Deane Hinton, The United States Ambassador to El Salvador and White House. Deane Hinton had recently taken up the post and “Credibility at the embassy was a special concern” (pg 116) and according to Greentree, Hinton was “the guy who sets the standards” (pg 116). Nonetheless, Greentree as junior officer “provided the reporting that would enable the government to deny” the massacre at El Mozote despite his belief that the Embassy was under immense pressure. The Embassy was aware of the massacre but responded to the news of the massacre by suppressing “what was inconvenient” which was the truth of what had happened. As Greentree states, “the guerillas were trying to make us look as bad as possible” (pg 104). In addition, on his way back from the refugee camp McKay was of the impression something horrendous had transpired and alluding to Morazan stated “the fear was overriding and we sensed it and we could tell that that fear was not instilled by the guerillas” (pg 108) as proof of a killing had taken place. The justifications given for the cover-up of the massacre by the American Government is similar to being in any wrong doing in the Human Right violations of the villagers of El Mozote.

Also, as Danner notes, “the cable supplied…arguments that they might find useful in impeaching the press accounts of El Mozote” (pg 117). The remarks by McKay show the length the U.S. government went to discredit the numbers reported in Washington Times “as pure Marxist propaganda devoid of foundation” (pg 126).

The American government could deny any Human Right violations had occurred in the hands of American trained Atlacatl as long as “the overwhelming number of deaths is never legally accounted for by clear or coherent evidence” (pg 125). In the end, the Human Right organizations, Americas Watch, and Amnesty International reports were attacked, smeared and painted as fabrications “without historical reference”(pg 124). I am of the believe that Congress and White House under the leadership of President Ronald Reagan did not want to be seen as losing the Cold War with Russia’s recent attack into Afghanistan. As a result Congress did not scrutinize the Certification the President sent them to show that El Salvador was complying with “internationally recognized Human Rights” and Congress rather than side with the truth shirked its responsibility even when the choice was clear a massacre had occurred at El Mozote.

  The El Mozote massacre was a heavily unjustified attack on the villagers of the area. Many people died in brutal ways with more than 800 civilians being killed. This one of many massacres that have occurred with the blood of the civilians on the U.S’s hands. An example would be the My Lai Massacre which was committed by the Unites States Army in 1968 during the Vietnam War.

Although the attack on Mazote wasn’t physically carried out by the United States, the funding and weapons and training given to the Atlacatl by the U.S created a factor that gave into this terrible attack on men, woman and children


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