Justice and the Romero Coalition

“Let it be known that no one can kill the voice of justice now.”  Monseñor Romero.

Nearly thirty years after the assassination of Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a symbol of El Salvador’s social justice movement, members of civil society came together to form The Romero Coalition.  This broad network of social organizations, inspired by Romero’s life and message, has organized to educate the Salvadoran people about the need to end impunity and to seek justice in the Romero case.  Through human and financial resources, SHARE has been a key member of this coalition since its inception.

Women from the Maria Madre de los Pobres Parish at a Romero Coalition march

The Romero Coalition bases its work for justice in the Romero case on the recommendations made to the Salvadoran State by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) of the Organization of American States. In 2000, the IAHCR declared the Salvadoran state culpable for the assassination of Monseñor Romero and made the following recommendations:

  • Undertake expeditiously a complete, impartial, and effective judicial investigation to identify, try and punish all the direct perpetrators and planners of the violations established in this report, notwithstanding the amnesty that has been decreed.
  • Make reparations for all the consequences of the violations set forth, including the payment of just compensation.
  • Adapt its internal legislation to the American Convention with a view to nullifying the General Amnesty Law.

In August of 2009, the Coalition launched a campaign called Monseñor Romero: Truth, Justice, and Hope, focusing advocacy efforts on the Executive branch of the Salvadoran government to fulfill the second recommendation: reparations. This would include an official apology, a public plaza dedicated to Romero, the creation of a documentary about Romero’s life and legacy, and the inclusion of Romero’s teachings in the public school curriculum.  While President Funes asked for forgiveness for the state’s role in the assassination of Monseñor Romero on March 24th, 2010, the Romero Coalition sees this as only a first step towards justice.

"Saint Romero of the Americas"

The Romero Coalition continues its work to educate the Salvadoran people about Romero’s commitment to social justice, the facts of the Romero case, the role of the Salvadoran state is his killing, and the recommendations made by the IAHCR. From March-July 2011, the Romero Coalition is hosting a certificate program on the Romero case and ongoing impunity, in conjunction with the National University.  In addition to educational efforts, the coalition continues to advocate for a full investigation of the Romero case and to declare the Amnesty Law unconstitutional to end past and ongoing impunity in El Salvador, while demanding that full reparations be made.

On March 5th, 2010 the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly declared March 24th National Monseñor Romero Day, and the United Nations has declared March 24th the “International Day for the Right to Truth in relation to Serious Violations of Human Rights and the Dignity of Victims” in Romero’s honor.

Read about ongoing impunity in the Romero case and its effects on justice in El Salvador today: Echos of Impunity: From Monseñor Romero to Radio Victoria.

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