The SHARE Blog

Salvadoran Military Officers May Face Justice for the 1989 Massacre of the UCA Jesuits

August 24, 2011

“The murder of the Jesuit Priests and their employees is one of the most abominable and unfortunate crimes of this era, that joins a long list of murders and violent massacres making the armed conflict one of the darkest periods in our country… Truth is the essential prelude to national reconciliation.” Excerpt from a press release made in the name of dozens of civil society organizations, including families of the disappeared, after former Salvadoran military officers sought refuge in a military base to avoid extradition to Spain.

In the early hours of 16 November 1989, US-trained members of the Salvadoran armed forces entered the University of Central America and the Jesuit residence there, brutally murdering the six Jesuit Priests and two women.

It is for this crime that 20 former members of the Salvadoran Armed Forces have been indicted by a Spanish court. While the international press has reported that nine of the twenty named in the Interpol Red Alert have “turned themselves in,” there is no such clarity as to their legal status in El Salvador. While President Funes argues that they are in custody, the police have reported the contrary to Interpol, and the Defense Minister has preferred silence. It is now up to the Supreme Court to decide whether the nine men are, in fact, in custody, and if so, what to do with them next.

Detained, or Under Protection?
According to an El Faro report, the nine former military men sought refuge at the military base on Sunday August 7th at the same time that the police were dispatched to detain them:  “The order for their capture had reached the hands of the Salvadoran police on Thursday the 4th. No one in the government, not even Funes, has been able to explain why they took so long to carry out the detentions.” 

This detention would be the first step in a chain of events leading to an extradition to Spain.  Once in detention, the formal extradition process begins under an agreement made between El Salvador and Spain in 1998.  Once the accused are in official custody, the Salvadoran Supreme Court must then name Judge to oversee the extradition process to Spain.

However, the Salvadoran Supreme Court has now met on three consecutive days and has been unable to make a decision regarding the case.

Two of the twenty people identified in the Interpol Red Alert have been identified as living in the United States; one is currently in federal custody for unrelated charges.

Demanding Justice

Facing this situation, families of the disappeared, church leaders and members of civil society gathered this morning, August 24th, in front of the former National Guard base, where it is widely believed these nine war criminals remain. Amongst chants of “They took them alive, We want them alive!” and “Neither forgive nor forget, Justice for the Guilty!” people came to demand justice. Watch a thirty-second clip of the sit-in here.

Mothers of the disappeared held posters with the faces and names of their children and others held photos of the six slain Jesuits and two women. This is the second in what may become ongoing sit-ins; last week, people gathered in front of the Supreme Court to demand the extradition of those responsible for these horrendous crimes. The next target may be President Funes himself; as commander-in-chief, he has the power to order the military to hand over the nine men to the police.

Related Articles:
Accused in Killing of Jesuits Arrested in US
Remembering the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador, by Dean Brackley

Accused in Killing of Jesuits Arrested in US

According to the Boston Globe, federal agents arrested former Salvadoran military colonel Inocente Orlando Montano on unrelated charges this week. He is one of the twenty former military members accused of the murder of the six UCA Jesuits and two women in 1989. Now in custody, Spanish officials can request his extradition to Spain to face trial. He has been living in the US for 10 years.

From the Globe:
He was discovered in Massachusetts by the Center for Justice and Accountability, a San Francisco-based human rights organization that in 2008 filed suit against the 20 defendants in Spain, leading to the new indictments in May.

“We are pleased that US authorities finally acted and arrested Montano, even though the action was only related to immigration fraud,’’ Almudena Bernabeu, a lawyer for the center, said in a statement. “This arrest gives Spanish authorities an opportunity to formally request Montano’s extradition, which, if the US observes, would once and for all result in a trial and justice for this terrible crime.’’

Read the complete article here.

Read more about the Jesuits and the case against their killers.

Remembering Saul Solorzano, legendary community leader

August 20, 2011

SHARE announces the loss of our dear brother and compañero Saul Solorzano, President of CARECEN DC. Saul has been part of SHARE’s work for many years. In the 1980’s Saul worked with SHARE in the GOING HOME Campaign accompanying refugees to repatriate from Mesa Grande Refugee Camp in Honduras. Saul was a champion in defending the refugees from El Salvador and Central America during the years of the war as well as the current immigration reform. Saul and CARECEN have also partnered with SHARE in responding to natural disasters in El Salvador. He was a great community leader who dedicated his life to justice for his community. 

Please join Saul’s memorial Facebook page SaulSolorzano Presente. SHARE is gathering information to honor the memory, life and work of Saul for his wife, young daughter and the future generations to ensure his many contributions are not forgotten. Any pictures, stories, condolences, etc would be greatly appreciated as we collect information to honor Saul Solorzano.

CARECEN DC’s statement on the loss of Saul

Washington Post Obituary


Sphere Project Launches Disaster Response Guidelines

August 3, 2011

Last week the Sphere Project, a SHARE partner, took the exciting step of launching its new manual related to respecting human rights while responding to disasters. The manual establishes minimum standards to be upheld during the response to natural disasters or armed conflict.

The manual was unveiled on Wednesday, July 27 at a crowded event in San Salvador. Over 115 invited participants attended and they represented a wide range of both pubic and private institutions. Attending groups included the Ministry of Health, the police force, both international and domestic NGOs, human rights attorneys, and members of the Salvadoran legislature.

The program included word of welcome from Isabel Hernández, who is both the Director of SHARE’s Field Office in El Salvador and a member of Sphere’s Coordinating Committee. Read More »

Remembering Anastasio Aquino, the revolutionary grandfather

July 25, 2011

Yesterday, July 24 marks 128 years since the death of Anastasio Aquino, the indigenous leader that led an insurrection of the Nonualco peoples against fuedal landowners in 1833.  Aquino injected rebellious genes into the blood of the Salvdoran people, who are still today fighting for their liberation.

The period in which Aquino lived (1)

Anastasio Aquino was born on April 16, 1792, in Santiago Nonualco, in the department of La Paz. Nonualcos was the name of the indigenous communities that had settlements between the Lempa and Jiboa rivers and between the Chinchontepec volcano and the Pacific Ocean.  According to some historians, Nonualco means “the place of beautiful speech.” Read More »

Delegate Reflection: Remembering Romero’s Legacy

July 19, 2011

This reflection was written by Kathy Werly, a member of the recently returned delegation from Good Shepherd Parish in Shawnee, Kansas, after they visited the Divina Providencia.

Reading and hearing about Archbishop Oscar Romero is one thing.  Standing where he stood and imagining his last minutes is quite another.  The Good Shepherd delegation’s visit to Divina Providencia gave us an opportunity to do just that, and it had a powerful impact on us all.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Sister Marceline.  She guided us into the chapel and spoke to us as we sat in the pews.  She asked us to individually think of a word that we would use to describe Archbishop Romero.  After sharing our words, she described the day of his death and extended an invitation to each of us to stand at the altar.  Read More »

A Message from the Organized Women of Chalatenango Facing the Food Crisis

July 14, 2011

At a recent Forum on Food Justice sponsored by Oxfam, Sonía Alemán, representing hundreds of organized women in Chalatenango, read the following message about food security in Chalatenango.  The message was collectively written by twenty women leaders of SHARE counterpart the CCR.  SHARE is currently working with the CCR on a project called Women’s Empowerment through Food Security and Microfinance.

A translation of Sonía’s message:

As organized rural women, we recognize ourselves as protagonists of life in this country. We bring food to our families.

I, Sonia Alemán, rural woman and preserver of life, wish to share reflections that, with other rural women from Chalatenango, we have in relation to the serious food crisis we face.

Despite our own efforts and those of our families, dedicated to farming life, organized women believe that in our rural communities, we are unable to ensure healthy food for our families.

In our communities, we are able to produce at least corn and beans.  But we understand that a complete diet is more than that—we need food in both quantity and quality to nourish our bodies, so that our sons and daughters can grow healthy and strong.

Currently, women face many difficulties to provide food for our homes.

In the first place, we do not have secure access to land to grow.  In addition, it is impoverished land, sick and polluted.  This effects especially women, as the majority of fertile land owners are right, and it is almost always men that enjoy the right to property, although it is us women who work the land.

Read More »

In El Salvador, Cooperatives are the Seed for a New Model of Rural Development

July 13, 2011

The following is a press release by SHARE counterpart CONFRAS, the Confederation of Federations of the Salvadoran Agrarian Reform.  It is titled: During the International Month of Cooperativism: In El Salvador, Cooperatives are the Seed of a New Model of Development. SHARE is currently working with CONFRAS to promote organization in the eastern part of El Salvador in order to motivate cooperatives to participate in national advocacy efforts for sustainable agricultural policies.


Press Release:

Cooperativism begins alongside, and as an alternative to, the exploitative capitalist system.  In the month of July, cooperatives around the world celebrate 167 years of life. We remember that in 1844, one of the first cooperative business was founded in Rochdale, England.  Today, a sixth of the world population, or some one billion people, are organized in cooperatives. This is why the United Nations has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.   Read More »

SHARE hiring in Berkeley

July 12, 2011

As SHARE celebrates thirty years of solidarity with the people of El Salvador, we are expanding our mission.  The Outreach Coordinator will be working with the Salvadoran community in the United States in an effort to strengthen developing relationships and partnerships with this community.  The Outreach Coordinator will work closely with the Executive Director in the US and the Director of SHARE’s field office in El Salvador to advance SHARE’s mission to “strengthen solidarity with and among the Salvadoran people in El Salvador and the United States in the struggle for economic sustainability, justice, and human and civil rights.” This is an exciting position that will help to do research, become a clearinghouse for information important to this community, support advocacy efforts, and strengthen capacity building of the Salvadoran community. As SHARE develops this new program area, the Outreach Coordinator will be instrumental in defining our goals and strategies. This position is based in our Berkeley, CA office.

Read the complete job listing

Body of Young Anti-Mining Activist Exhumed from Common Grave

July 11, 2011

The body of murdered fourth-year university student and active member of the environmental movement in the area of Ilobasco, Cabanas, Juan Francisco Duran Ayala, has finally been returned to his family in San Salvador. On June 24, 2011, the family gathered together with members of civil society and representatives from government agencies to exhume his body from a common grave in the Bermeja Cemetery, where he had been buried by the National Civilian Police. Juan Francisco, who lived in Ilobasco, left his home at 9 a.m. on June 3 to attend his classes in San Salvador and never arrived. His body was found on the same day by the police, next to a basketball court in the community of Amatepec in metropolitan San Salvador, with two gunshot wounds to the head.

Local environmental activists call on the National Civilian Police and the Attorney General of the Republic to conduct exhaustive investigations of the string of violent crimes in the department of Cabanas. They cite corruption and illicit trades within three local mayoral offices—facts they claim to be well-known to the local population, and which they list in today’s press release—as well as ties between the aforementioned authorities and the mining company Pacific Rim, as possible motives for the violence. As Francisco Pineda, President of the CAC and recent recipient of the internationally recognized Goldman Environmental Prize, asserts, “We can make a good guess about who are the intellectual authors of this crime given our lived experiences here, but that’s not our responsibility. The attorney general and the police have the obligation to investigate and determine the guilty parties.”

Continue reading this article, written by former SHARE team member Danielle Mackey, here!

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