McGovern Statement on Guilty Verdict in 1989 Massacre at the University of Central America in El Salvador

McGovern Helped Expose Brutal Murders Were Carried Out by U.S.-Backed Military Units; Verdict Marks Turning Point in Decades-Long Struggle for Justice

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman James P. McGovern, Chairman of the House Rules Committee and Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, released this statement following a guilty verdict in the case of Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano, who was extradited from the United States and tried in Spain for his role in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter. Montano, who was Vice-Minister for Public Security at the time, was sentenced to over 133 years in prison:

“Today’s historic verdict by the Spanish National Court is a true turning point in the fight against injustice and impunity in El Salvador. For the victims of these terrible human rights crimes, justice cannot be denied. I’m grateful to the many lawyers and experts who presented the facts surrounding this heinous crime and made clear to the presiding judge that the members of the Salvadoran High Command are the intellectual authors of this unforgivable act. Then-Colonel Montano hardly acted alone, even though today’s guilty verdict means he will bear the brunt of the punishment.

“It’s now El Salvador’s turn to provide full truth and justice in this case and so many others, such as the 1981 El Mozote massacre trial.  In both the 1989 murders at the University of Central America and the 1981 massacre at El Mozote, the United States helped train and equip the military units that carried out these murders.  The U.S. government – including the Pentagon and our intelligence agencies –  must make all documents and related materials available to Salvadoran and international authorities investigating these crimes. America must do its part to make sure that justice is no longer deferred or denied.

“Finally, my thoughts today are with the families, friends, and colleagues of the six Jesuit priests and two women who were murdered on November 16, 1989 at the University of Central America in San Salvador. They were my friends and mentors. I will never forget them.”


McGovern has been a longtime advocate for human rights in El Salvador, visiting the country several times with human rights organization and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last year in an effort to encourage peace, reconciliation and justice after years of disastrous U.S. military intervention helped to fuel the flames of a brutal civil war that left thousands of Salvadorans dead.