Home > Society > Ex-Salvadoran Soldier Convicted in Priest Massacre Found in U.S.

Ex-Salvadoran Soldier Convicted in Priest Massacre Found in U.S.

Thursday, 26 October 2006 Leave a comment Go to comments

Some of you are aware of my leanings to Liberation Theology.  I have read numous theology books that have highlighted the massacres in El Salvador.  Friends and colleagues of Romero [and other Salvadoran clergy].  This article reminds me of the loss of great pusuits and heroes of social justice in Central America, and also reminds me of the work we still have to do for peace.

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES: A former army officer from El Salvador who was convicted of taking part in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests and two other people during that country’s civil war was arrested in the United States and faces deportation, authorities said Wednesday.

Former Salvadoran army officer Gonzalo Guevara CerritosFederal agents acting on a tip arrested Gonzalo Guevara Cerritos, 43, on Oct. 18 at a motel near the University of California, Los Angeles. He illegally entered the country in January 2005, according to a statement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

He was being held at a detention facility in Lancaster, California, pending a deportation hearing next month, said Lori Haley, a spokeswoman for the agency.

She did not know where Guevara Cerritos had been or what he was doing in the United States.

“We will not allow the United States to be a place of refuge for aliens seeking to escape a violent criminal past,” Robert Schoch, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Los Angeles, said in a statement. “Removing human rights violators and other persecutors from the United States is one of ICE’s top enforcement priorities.”

The 12-year civil war in El Salvador, which cost the lives of some 75,000 people, ended in 1992.

Guevara Cerritos was a sub-lieutenant with the Salvadoran army’s counterinsurgency Atlacatl Battalion during that country’s bloody war against the FMLN, a leftist guerrilla group.

He and eight other officers and soldiers were convicted of involvement in the 1989 killing of six priests, their cook and her teenage daughter at a university in the capital city of El Salvador. Jesuits had called for a peaceful, negotiated end to the war and some in the army considered them to be subversives, along with union and human rights activists.

The killings sparked international outrage and tarnished the image of U.S. anti-Communism efforts in the region after it was found that some of the soldiers involved had received training at the former School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.

In 1991, Guevara was convicted in El Salvador of instigation and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

He spent nearly two years under house arrest before he was pardoned by the government under a 1993 general amnesty, ICE said.

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