Monday, September 26, 2005

Another Salvador Option

Much of the recent talk about "the Salvador option" in Iraq is misleading. But this trial, if and when it takes place, should shed some light on the history of what actually did happen in Central America two decades ago:

From the Center for Justice and Accountability:

El Salvador: Col. Nicolas Carranza
News & Commentary
Legal Documents
BackgroundThe 1979-1981 period in El Salvador was marked by rampant human rights abuses, forced disappearances, arbitrary detention and murder. The Security Forces, with assistance from "death squads," carried out widespread atrocities against suspected political “subversives,” including opposition political figures, members of labor unions, and people who provided care and education to the public, such as teachers, doctors, rescue workers and priests. Experts estimate that 10,000 to 12,000 unarmed civilians were killed in 1980 alone, including revered Salvadoran Archbishop Romero. CJA filed a separate case against one of the conspirators in the Romero assassination in September 2003.

Chavez v. Carranza
On December 10th, 2003, CJA filed a suit on behalf of several Salvadorans against former Salvadoran military commander Nicolas Carranza for the torture they endured and for the murder of their family members. The complaint was amended in February 2004 to add the claims of John Doe. On September 30, 2004, Judge Jon McCalla of the Western District of Tennessee denied Carranza’s motion to dismiss the case. The trial is scheduled for October 2005.Carranza, now a U.S. citizen living in Memphis, was Vice-Minister of Defense of El Salvador during the 1979-1981 period. In that position, he exercised command and control over the three units of the security forces – the National Guard, National Police and Treasury Police – responsible for most of the attacks on civilians. Despite being removed from his position as Vice-Minister due to U.S. pressure over his horrible human rights record, Carranza was later brought back in 1983 as head of the notorious Treasury Police, where he exercised command and control over the members of that group. The lawsuit also alleges that Carranza conspired with, or aided and abetted, subordinates in the security forces who carried out these abuses....

It will be especially interesting to see what, if anything, the trial brings out about Carranza's relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency, including allegations in the 1980s that Carranza was "on the payroll." --CD

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