The Remains of 16 Victims of the El Mozote Massacre are Finally Laid to Rest

by alejandra sandoval

Forensic authorities handed over the remains of 16 victims of the massacre at El Mozote, perpetrated by the army in 1981 during El Salvador’s civil war (1980-1992),on Wednesday to their families for burial.

“This is important for us as relatives and victims that we are, because now we can finally say goodbye and lay them to rest,” said Cruz Vigil, vice president of the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights of El Mozote (APDHEM).

The skeletal remains were taken from the exhumations carried out in 2016 in the communities of Cerro Pando, La Joya and Toriles, near El Mozote, confirming the survivors’ testimonies about the murders of their relatives.

“After so much waiting, they are now with us. Today we can place flowers on their graves, they way it should be done,” said Maria Ascencio Pereira.

On Wednesday night, a wake was held with the remains of the 16 victims present, including those of a pregnant woman. On Thursday the funerals of 10 victims took place at the monument to the victims in the community of La Joya, four in the cemetery of Meanguera and two in Arambala, all towns in the department of Morazán, northeast of San Salvador.

“For Cristosal and for the victims, this is a very meaningful event because it is a form of reparation. It is an act that reaffirms a historical truth”. Antonio Aguilar, lawyer for Cristosal’s transitional justice team.

In 1981, soldiers of the Army’s now outlawed Atlacatl Battalion executed 986 people, including 558 children, in El Mozote and surrounding communities on suspicion of collaborating with the guerrillas. 

The civil war ended on January 16, 1992 and left more than 75,000 dead and disappeared. In 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in Costa Rica, condemned the Salvadoran State for the El Mozote massacre, the most serious of the Salvadoran civil war, and ordered reparation measures.