Day 3 - El Mozote Massacre
Today we traveled approximately 100 miles to the northeast to visit the village of El Mozote, where 1,070 men, women and children were massacred on Dec 11, 1981. The Salvadoran armed forces had been trained by the U.S. military. It was considered to be one of the worst atrocities in modern Latin American history. The purpose was to eliminate the rebel presence in the area, where there was a guerilla camp and training center. There was one lone survivor of the massacre. A member of the current community told the detailed story to us and Kathy interpreted. Blanca and Cecelia of the pastoral team lead a very moving memorial ceremony, as we gathered around the site where the children and babies were killed, now called the Garden of the Innocents.
From there, we traveled to Perquin to visit the war museum and leftover bunkers, bomb craters and recovered aircraft from this area that had broad popular support of the guerilla presence. The rugged landscape was thick with trees that provided cover from the military patrols. We also visited an actual guerilla encampment down the road. Many of our group went through one of the tunnels that is still there and crossed a suspension bridge, one by one. It was a very full, intense day, but so very important to learn more of the history of El Salvador and the events leading up to the Civil War and the peace agreement that was signed in 1992. We had a late lunch en route back to Berlin.
We again ended our day with a lively reflection time and devotions.