In December 1981 almost a thousand people were murdered in the hamlet of El Mozote in northern El Salvador by a U.S.-trained military battalion. Over half of the victims were children. The massacre was part of a scorched-earth military policy. After the war ended, a case against the officers involved was opened, but an amnesty law precluded prosecutions until 2016. Since then, survivors and forensic anthropologists have testified in El Salvador, and experts will testify this spring, all in an effort to finally get justice for the survivors and dent the impunity for large-scale violence that continues to this day. It is that violence, more than anything else, that drives people to flee elsewhere, including to the US border.
David Morales, director of Strategic Litigation at Cristosal, is the lawyer for the victims in the El Mozote case. He opened the original case in 1991, and has worked with the victims since then. He is also the former Human Rights Ombudsman of El Salvador. He will talk about the current state of the case, and the links between past atrocity and current violence.
Naomi Roht-Arriaza will comment on some of the legal issues involved, and on the role of the U.S. She is the Albert Abramson ’54 Distinguished Professor of Law at UC Hastings.
Professor Terry Karl, the Gildred Professor Emeritus of Latin American Studies and El mozote expert witness, will moderate.