Archbishop Romero, Assassinated by US-Backed Terrorists During Mass, Beatified

romeroThe Telesur news outlet is currently featuring an interactive piece covering the life, murder, legacy, and now beatification of Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero.

(Beatification: a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person’s entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name.)

Why did they kill him?  Salvadorans called Romero the “Voice of the Voiceless”.  He spoke out against the El Salvador dictatorship’s human rights violations, he opened the doors of the church to victims fleeing repression, and he repeatedly criticized the help the United States was providing the Salvadoran dictatorship.  As a result, president Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) asked the Vatican to sanction Romero.”

Due to US complicity in his assassination, a leading US dissident intellectual, Dr. Noam Chomsky, has made it a goal to inform the largely unaware US public about Romero’s assassination and the general repression in US satellites in Latin America, a continuation of the repression and exploitation begun in Latin America by Europeans, the Spanish, in the late 1400s:

“In a Russian satellite, Stalinist satellite, say Czechoslovakia in the ’80s, critics, we call them dissidents, like Vaclav Havel, could be jailed. In an American satellite at the very same time, they just had their heads blown off.

It’s a radical difference.  And that in fact is far more general, and it’s known to scholarship.  So, if you take a look at the recent Cambridge History of the Cold War, there’s an article by John Coatsworth on Latin America, a well-known Latin Americanist.  He points out that from the early sixties to the Soviet collapse in 1990, I’m quoting him now, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, executions of non-violent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those in the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites.  That included many religious martyrs, and also mass slaughter – which didn’t occur in the Soviet satellites – consistently supported, often initiated in Washington, generally supported by the responsible intellectuals … generally out of history.

It really is out of history.  There happens to be a graphic illustration of it in my office…  About fifteen years ago I was given a rather evocative painting by a Jesuit priest.  The painting shows the angel of death, graphically presented, [and] Archbishop Romero – he’s called ‘The Voice of the People’, ‘The Voice of the Voiceless’- who was assassinated in 1980 while reading mass.  Incidentally, [this was] shortly after he had sent a letter to president Carter, pleading with him not to send military aid to the junta because it would just be used to crush people struggling for their elementary human rights.

So, he’s at one end of the picture, and down below are six leading Latin American intellectuals, Jesuit priests, whose brains were blown out in November, 1989, a couple days after the fall of the Berlin Wall, by an elite Salvadoran battalion which already had killed thousands or tens of thousands of people, fresh from their- had just returned from the United States.  They had just had renewed training at the John F. Kennedy school of special warfare in North Carolina.

They were acting under the specific command of the high command.  That was published two years ago in the Spanish press.  Yet to be published here.  The high command was very close to the American embassy.  Inconceivable they didn’t know.

Also in the same portrait there’s a picture of their housekeeper and her daughter.  They had to be murdered, too, on orders of the high command, so there wouldn’t be any witnesses.

That’s the portrait.  I keep it there kind of to remind myself of the real world, but it’s served another function.  A lot of people come through the office, some of them look at it.  I’ve noticed over the years that people from the United States, almost nobody has a clue what it is.  From Latin America, almost everybody knows what it is.  From Europe, it’s maybe ten percent.

If anything like that had happened in Czechoslovakia … everybody would know about the utter barbarism of the Stalinist monsters.  Well, that’s not untypical, unfortunately … it’s pretty normal.

Take 9/11, obviously a horrendous atrocity, enormous historical significance.  A standard cliche about it is it changed the world.  … It was pretty awful.  It could’ve been worse.  In fact, it’s kind of useful to try a thought experiment.  …A plane was downed in Pennsylvania by the passengers.  Suppose it hadn’t been downed.  Suppose it continued.  It was apparently aiming at the White House.  Suppose it had hit the White House, had killed the president, put into operation a plan, already established, to impose a military dictatorship in the country.  Did that.  Military dictatorship took over, dismantled the entire parliamentary system, very quickly killed some three to six thousand people, went on to torture about thirty thousand, established a major terrorist center in the United States, which was carrying out assassinations all over the world, overthrowing governments, helping install similar dictatorships …, brought in a group of economists who took over the economy and very quickly drove the American economy into one of the worst crises of its history.

Well, that would’ve been a lot worse than 9/11.  And it happened, and you should all know that it happened, on 9/11.  That’s what’s called, in Latin America, the first 9/11.  9/11/1973.  That’s the coup in Chile which installed a grotesque dictatorship.  Well, that’s considered of no significance.  In fact, Henry Kissinger, one of the people directly responsible, informed his boss, Richard Nixon, right afterwards that it’s “of no historical significance.”  It didn’t change the world.  Nobody says that.  It just changed reality.”



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  • I am glad to see in this article the mention of the Chilean Coup made in the U.S.A. Mr. Barsocchini few ever mention that date or even know of the event.

    Here is more on the Catholic Church.

    Mar 19, 2013 Pope Francis and the Dirty War – Michel Chossudovsky on GRTV

    Last week over a billion Catholics around the world watched as the Vatican conclave elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the next Pope. But now, as researchers like Professor Michel Chossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalization are pointing out, Bergoglio’s past points to his likely involvement in crimes against humanity.

    Here is a rally in remembrance of that very date that takes place annually.

    Sep 24, 2013 40th anniversary of the fascist coup in —Made in the USA 11 September 2013

    Today is the fortieth anniversary of the fascist coup in Chile on 11 September 1973, when the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup that was planned, organised and directed from Washington. The fascist coup resulted in more than 3,000 dead, 30,000 tortured, tens of thousands held in concentration camps, thousands driven into exile around the world, and political parties and trade unions banned. Chile became an experimental ground for neo-liberal economic polices imposed by the “Chicago Boys,” led by Milton Friedman—economic polices that have subsequently been imposed throughout Latin America.

  • ClubToTheHead

    Ronald Reagan used Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” for his election campaign, and referred to the Soviet Union, with references to Star Wars, as the Evil Empire, when clearly both were references to USA war crimes and politics.

    And so democracy was not overthrown, but given away.

    Americans are not a people ready for democracy.

    • Robert Barsocchini

      “Americans are not a people ready for democracy.”

      And they don’t have it and never have. System was not designed to be a democracy, but a plutocracy, explicitly. Elites certainly prefer that, and many non-elites even prefer having no say in their own lives. Probably largely due to conditioning.

      • ClubToTheHead

        True. But I repeat the Empire’s justification for its overthrow of other lesser nation’s governments.

        There have been US policies such as Social Security, labor laws legalizing unions, and others that favored the interests of common people that might be said to simulate democracy in their support of capitalism.

        The reactionary 22nd Amendment was put in place by elites to reduce the risk that popular support of a president might never again hinder projects of the elite to the same extent ever again.

        • Robert Barsocchini

          Those policies cited came about during what Gilens and Paige cite, the “progressive era”; they and others note these changes came about due to vast, powerful popular movements, as opposed to popular opinion expressed through voting, which is dominated by finance. Popular opinion without a militant movement behind it, G and P show, has zero influence on policy.

          They recommend a return to mass popular movements, since force seems to be the only way to cause the type of government we have, plutocracy, to respect the wishes of the majority of the population when they do not happen to coincide with elite wishes, which is often.

          Good point about the 22nd.