WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman James P. McGovern (D-MA), Chairman of the House Rules Committee and Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, issued this statement in response to the public designation by the United States Department of State of thirteen former Salvadoran military officials due to involvement in gross violations of human rights.The list includes all the high command officers named in the 1993 United Nations Truth Commission Report as responsible for ordering the killings of the Jesuits, except for Col. Ponce, who is deceased:
“Distance and time do not erase America’s obligation to pursue justice and human rights. Today’s decision to sanction 13 former Salvadoran military officers who planned and executed the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests and two women at the University of Central America in San Salvador is the right thing to do and puts us on a path toward the right side of history.
“Thirty years after these murders took place, today’s designation recognizes that the search for justice in this case and others continues in El Salvador. It recognizes that these heinous crimes are not forgotten and remain high priorities for the people of El Salvador and the United States.
“These designations are especially important because there is movement inside El Salvador to pursue justice in the case of those who ordered, planned and attempted to cover-up these murders. It is also timely as another historic case, the 1981 El Mozote Massacre, where upwards of 1,000 men, women and children were murdered by the Salvadoran military, is currently being tried in El Salvador.
“The Jesuit murder and the El Mozote massacre cases, along with other unresolved historic cases, are important not only because they symbolize progress toward justice, but also because they demonstrate to the Salvadoran people that the Salvadoran judicial system is capable of pursuing truth, even when it involves the powerful and well-connected. Further progress on these cases will strengthen the rule of law and help both victims and survivors’ in their pursuit of truth and closure.”