Victims of the El Mozote Massacre Demand Transparency and Respect for Public Works Carried Out in the Community

By alejandra sandoval

San Salvador, March 8, 2022. Reconstruction by public works which had not been consulted with the community began on March 4.  Representatives of the victims and survivors of the massacre of El Mozote and surrounding sites ask the Government for information, transparency, and respect for the historical memory of the place, where more than a thousand people were killed during the armed conflict.

Representatives of the Asociación Promotora de Derechos Humanos de El Mozote (APDHEM) offered a press conference in which they expressed their regret of the intervention of public works in the central square and memorial areas of the village. According to the community human rights association, this reconstruction is not in accordance with the sentence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) and is disrespectful the sites that are held sacred by the families.

“El Mozote is a memorial site, and it has been built on the struggle and effort of the entire population. The central square that is there was not made by any government, it was made by the struggle and is the achievement of the victims of El Mozote and the communities of the northern zone of Morazán,” said Leonel Claros, president of APDHEM.

He added that in the area around the monument alone there are some 300 people buried and this action offends the historical memory of the community. “We are not opposed, nor are we against the president. We oppose this [because it] is sacred. There is blood spilled there. There are many people who were killed there, and we are going to defend it. That is why we are going to ask the State to respect that section, because it is a place that cannot be trampled”, said José Cruz Vigil, vice-president of APDHEM.

David Morales, head of Transitional Justice in Cristosal, stated that the current government has denied that it is going to touch the monuments; however, there are renderings and digital evidence that shows considerable modifications and intervention in those areas.

“It is a site that represents identity, pain, reconstruction, and the struggle for justice. To touch that without consulting the communities, without a process of community assemblies, ignoring the association that represents the victims, is an instrumentalization using government propaganda,” he stated.

Likewise, Ovidio Mauricio González, coordinator of Tutela Legal and plaintiff in the Mozote case, has reported that a notification that the IACHR has been notified because the victims have felt it to be an affront to begin these public works without having been consulted and feel that elements of their identity are destroyed. “We [showing the Commission] that the purpose of the monument is to be a place of mourning for the victims, and it is a place of historical memory,” Gonzalez said.

For the moment, the works are in the first phase, they assured, but they hope that the decisions will be made working closely with the community and their needs. “For me, it is a mockery to the victims. By not consulting us, by not telling us anything, they want to erase our historical memory and we cannot allow that,” concluded Fidel Pérez, member of the board of directors and survivor of the massacre in Yancolo, Morazán.

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