Book Reveals New Details in Murder Plot of El Salvador’s Archbishop Romero

Forthcoming book “Assassination of a Saint” details how Salvadoran elites threatened by Romero’s commitment to social justice plotted to kill the archbishop.

New facts revealed in the book “Assassination of a Saint” detail political elites’ sinister plot in El Salvador to assassinate Archbishop Oscar Romero and the complicity of authorities and politicians who refused to stand up to the country’s elites.

In the book set to be published on Jan. 24, Matt Eisenbrandt is the first to craft a detailed narrative of the plan to murder Romero and ensuing efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. Romero, a champion of social justice and liberation theology, was murdered while giving mass at a church in San Salvador in March 1980.

In the years leading up to his death, the archbishop frequently spoke out in favor of poor and marginalized Salvadorans and against right-wing death squads as his country grappled with deep-seated inequality and social unrest.

His murder was the catalyzing event that plummeted El Salvador into a brutal 12-year civil war that left an estimated 80,000 dead.

Through interviews with lawyers, human rights activists, witnesses and accomplices, Eisenbrandt exposes the implicit and explicit role of Salvadoran political, military and economic elites in the murder of the outspoken archbishop.

“There are clear (evidential) threads on who gave the original order and who paid for the murder that any concerted investigation in El Salvador would absolutely be able to gather enough evidence to prosecute those involved,” author Matt Eisenbrandt told The Guardian.

Eisenbrandt was part of a team of lawyers who brought a case against one of the perpetrators of the murder for a court case held in Fresno, California, in 2004.

The case found former Air Force captain Alvaro Saravia partly responsible for the murder. The case also officially named Roberto D’Aubuisson, a military officer and founder of right-wing party Nationalist Republican Alliance, or ARENA, as the mastermind behind the assassination plot, which new information in the book reveals to have cost only $200.

The book also reveals more previously unknown details about D’Aubuisson and who funded his right-wing death squads.

To this day, Saravia is the only person to be sentenced for his involvement in the murder, highlighting the still deeply entrenched power of military and political elites in the Central American nation.

This month, El Salvador marked the 25th anniversary since the signing of a peace accords that ended the bloody civil war.

In July, 2016, the Salvadoran Supreme Court overturned an amnesty law that protected military officers, death squad operatives and other armed actors from facing justice for human rights abuses during the civil war.

A truth commission published in 1993 found the state responsible for 85 percent of human rights abuses during the conflict between the military and leftist rebels. During the war, right-wing death squads terrorized El Salvador with support from the U.S. government.

Violence, social inequality and impunity still plague the Central American nation, home to one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Social activists and human rights leaders believe the current problems in El Salvador have roots in the same social struggles that fueled the civil war in the 1980s.

Romero was beatified in May 2015, the final step in the process to become a saint.

— source


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