This sample of an academic paper on The Massacre At El Mozote reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.
The Massacre at El Mozote as told by Mark Danner takes place El Salvador. El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. It shares borders with Guatemala and Honduras. El Salvador is divided into 14 departments and El Mozote is a village in one of the Departments called Morazan. According to the author, the Salvadoran Civil War 1979-1992 was a conflict waged by the Military led Government of El Salvador and coalition of left-leaning militias or guerillas called the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).
The FMLN was supported by peasants and indigenous Indian people. The United States supported the El Salvador Military government. The tensions between the classes, the halves and the halve-nots are therefore represented by the two warring factions. The harrowing events in Mark Danner’s Massacre at El Mozote investigates and questions three central issues; the Massacre, the role of American Policies in the region during the Cold War and the executive cover-up of the events as Propaganda.
One of the concerns is what responsibility (if any) did the U.
S. government have for the massacre at El Mozote? El Mozote was “uniquely” different from most villages because it had resisted the Liberation Theology taught by left-leaning Catholic Priests and according to the author was “as as stronghold of the Protestant evangelical movement” (pg 19) . The villagers of El Mozote had their own chapel and referred themselves as born-again Christians and as Danner states were known for “their anti-communism” (pg 19).
The villagers of El Mozote did not support the guerillas.
According to Danner the Massacre at El Mozote takes place when American trained Salvadoran Armed forces called the Atlacatl Batallion arrived at the village and began systematically killing men, women and children by various means such as torturing, hangings, decapitation, and shooting. The U. S government was responsible for the massacre at El Mozote for a plethora of reasons. First, The Reagan administration was well aware of the geopolitical consequences of ceding El Salvador to “communist subversion in the hemisphere” (pg 40).
Also, the growing presence of the Soviets and Cuba in Nicaragua escalated the cold war and in order to ‘draw the line” the Reagan administration “doubled economic aid for El Salvador to a hundred and forty four million dollars” (pg 40). According to Danner, “the priorities of American Policy in El Salvador had become unmistakable” (pg 41). Second, The American government was “opposed to dispatching American combat forces to Central America” (pg 22) and in order to prevent another
Nicaragua, Congress agreed to “reform” the Salvadoran Army by financing, training and arming its troops to fight the FMLN. As Danner notes, “the Americans had stepped forward to fund the war, but were unwilling to fight it”. Third, the Monterrosa led Atlacatl led batallion through American funding descended in El Mozote with “the latest M-16’s, M-60 machines guns, 90 millimeter recoilless rifles, and 60- and 81 millimeter mortars”(pg 39) and with a list of names massacred an entire village because “communism was cancer”(pg 49).
The U. S. government was clearly responsible for the Massacre at El Mozote because without the funding, supporting, and training of El Salvador troops the war would have been tilted in the guerillas favor as they had managed to hold the disorganized army in certain areas. In contrast to neighboring departments El Mozote and its inhabitants of born-again Christians did not fit in as guerilla sympathizers.
In fact, the training at American hands is questionable because the manner in which the massacre is carried with soldiers tying ropes on trees, using machetes, slitting throats of innocent villagers is not a tactic of warfare I believe America utilizes. The Cold War was about ideology and the El Salvador Army believed it was “killing Salvadorans who were sympathetic to the insurgents” (pg 53). The El Salvador Army with the support of American resources violated the rules of war in killing an entire village “without trial or investigation, simply because of the political sympathies of some of their number” (pg 53).
The killings carried out by the Atlacatl Batallion in El Mozote were not justice but a contravention of Human Rights. The massacre was reported by Washington Post and the New York times as told to them by Rufina Amaya Marquez, a witness of what had occurred at El Mozote. The response by the American government to news of the massacre was first denial and then portrayal of those reports as “Propaganda” by “journalist advocates” sympathetic to the guerillas cause.
As the author notes, the geopolitical stakes in Central America and ensuing debate in congress did not leave the White House many options albeit cable reports and first witness accounts of the massacre in El Mozote and La Joya. According to Howard Lane, the Public Affairs Officer in the Embassy, the American Embassy was well informed as to who was orchestrating the killings especially after the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero as he said Mass (pg 28). The first reports from radio Venceremos estimated Atlacatl as having “massacred a thousand peasants and various amlets and villages”(pg 87) but according to Danner the commandates believed “that many hundreds had died”(pg 87). The U. S government clearly shares responsibility for the Massacre at El Mozote because as the author notes ‘it was congress that voted the money that paid for the American guns and helicopters and military advisers” (pg 90) with the false pretense of putting an end “torture and murder of Salvadoran Citizens” (pg 90) with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
I believe the American response to news of the Massacre as inadequate because of the massive cover-up by both Deane Hinton, The United States Ambassador to El Salvador and White House. Deane Hinton had recently taken up the post and “Credibility at the embassy was a special concern” (pg 116) and according to Greentree, Hinton was “the guy who sets the standards” (pg 116). Nonetheless, Greentree as junior officer “provided the reporting that would enable the government to deny” the massacre at El Mozote despite his belief that the Embassy was under immense pressure.
The Embassy was aware of the massacre but responded to the news of the massacre by suppressing “what was inconvenient” which was the truth of what had happened. As Greentree states, “the guerillas were trying to make us look as bad as possible” (pg 104). Moreover, on his way back from the refugee camp McKay was of the impression something horrendous had transpired and alluding to Morazan stated “the fear was overriding and we sensed it and we could tell that that fear was not instilled by the guerillas” (pg 108) as proof of a killing had taken place.
The justifications given for the cover-up of the massacre by the American Government is akin to being a complicit in the Human Right violations of the villagers of El Mozote. Also, as Danner notes, “the cable supplied…arguments that they might find useful in impeaching the press accounts of El Mozote” (pg 117). The remarks by McKay show the length the U. S. government went to discredit the numbers reported in Washington Times “as pure Marxist propaganda devoid of foundation” (pg 126).
The American government could deny any Human Right violations had occurred in the hands of American trained Atlacatl as long as “the overwhelming number of deaths is never legally accounted for by clear or coherent evidence” (pg 125). In the end, the Human Right organizations, Americas Watch, and Amnesty International reports were attacked, smeared and painted as fabrications “without historical reference”(pg 124).
I am of the believe that Congress and White House under the leadership of President Ronald Reagan did not want to be seen as losing the Cold War with Russia’s recent foray into Afghanistan. As a result Congress did not scrutinize the Certification the President sent them to show that El Salvador was complying with “internationally recognized Human Rights” and Congress rather than side with the truth shirked its responsibility even when the choice was clear a massacre had occurred at El Mozote.