Slaughter of the Jesuits: fourteen years on?

The night of 16 November 1989: soldiers burst into the University of Central America and kill six Jesuits and two women who work there. They died because they had worked for social justice and because they had criticised human rights violations during the years of civil war. To commemorate that day, a series of conferences was held on social and political violence and the meaning of martyrdom. Exhibitions, concerts, and documentaries highlighted the lives and deaths of other martyrs. A video of the last interview taken a month before the massacre with three of the Jesuits who died on that fateful day, Fr Ignacio Ellacuria SJ, Fr Martin Baro SJ and Fr Segundo Montes SJ, was screened. A procession of several hundred persons through the streets of San Salvador and the University ended in a prayer vigil. The Archbishop of the city, Bishop Fernando Sáenz Lacalle, recalled the massacre ?as one of the most terrifying events of the whole sad time of the war? from 1980 to 1992. The crime still goes unpunished. Nine soldiers were tried for the crime but seven were absolved in 1991, and Colonel G.A. Benavídes and L. Y. Mendoza who were found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison were released through the amnesty law approved in 1993. Did those Jesuits die in vain? What does their idealism say to us today? In a world given over increasingly to consumerism, their determination to live for the poor, indeed to die for them, sends out a ray of hope that men and women still lead lives in the imitation of Christ. Voices that will not be silenced in times of danger bear witness to the fact that their work is carried on, that what they stood for is not forgotten. [HL31109]