El Salvador: Authorities must investigate massacre 30 years on

El Salvador’s authorities must take urgent steps to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of more than 200 people in the northern San Vicente region during a military operation in 1982, said Amnesty International on the 30th anniversary of the massacre.

More than 200 men, women and children were killed in what is today known as the “El Calabozo” massacre, which took place on 22 August 1982 by the river Amatitán.

It is difficult to confirm precisely how many people died that day. The soldiers, from the US-trained Atlacatl Battalion, reportedly threw acid on some of the bodies, and the river swept many of the dead away.

In 1992, some of the survivors filed a case with the authorities, asking them to investigate the crimes and bring those responsible to justice.

No action has yet been taken.

In a feature published today, Amnesty International highlights the voices of some of the survivors of the massacre.

“The survivors and relatives of those killed at El Calabozo re-live the pain of that day over and over, as if it was yesterday,” said Esther Major, Amnesty International’s researcher on El Salvador.

“The Salvadoran authorities have compounded their grief and trauma by failing to bring to justice any of those who ordered or carried out the massacre. After 30 years it is time to end this travesty by finally providing reparation to survivors and relatives, and prosecuting those responsible for this terrible crime.”