Full Text of the 1980 Letter of Archbishop Romero to
Shortly after this letter was sent, Romero was murdered while celebrating mass.
In these last days there has appeared in the national press a report that troubles me deeply. According to it, your government is studying the possibility of supporting and aiding economically and militarily the government junta [of El Salvador].
Because you are a Christian and because you manifested that you wish to defend human rights, I dare to expose my pastoral point of view regarding this news and make a concrete petition to you.
I am deeply troubled by the news that the government of the United States should be studying the way to favor the militarist path of El Salvador by sending military equipment and advisors to "train three Salvadoran battalions in logistics, communications and intelligence." In the event that this journalistic information is true, your government's contribution, rather than favoring greater justice and peace in El Salvador will make injustice and repression against the organization of the people, who have been struggling for the respect of their most fundamental rights, even more acute.
The current ruling Junta, and above all the armed forces and security forces, have unfortunately not demonstrated their capacity to resolve the grave national problems through political practice and structural means. In general, they have only resorted to repressive violence, producing a volume of dead and wounded that is greater than that of recent military regimes whose systematic violation of human rights was condemned by the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights.
The brutal way in which the security forces recently evicted and assassinated the occupants of the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Party despite that the Junta and the government (it would appear) did not authorize that operation is evidence that the Junta and the Christian Democrats do not govern the country, but rather, the political power is in the hands of military men without scruples, who only know how to oppress the people and favor the interests of the Salvadoran oligarchy.
If it is true that this past November, "a group of six Americans spent time in El Salvador supplying two hundred thousand dollars worth of gas masks and bullet proof vests and instructing on their use against demonstrators, you yourself must know that clearly since then the security forces, acting with greater personal protection and effectiveness, have repressed the people even more violently, using deadly weapons.
As such, given the fact that as a Salvadoran, and as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, I have the obligation to watch so that faith and justice reign in my country, I ask that if you truly want to defend human rights:
- You prohibit this military aid to the Salvadoran government.
- You guarantee that your government not intervene directly or indirectly with military, economic and diplomatic pressure.
At this time, we are living through a grave economic and political crisis in our country, but it is doubtless that each time the people have increased their conscience and their organization and have empowered themselves to become the driving force which is responsible for the future of El Salvador, and the only one capable of overcoming this crisis.
It would be unjust and deplorable that by the interference of foreign powers the Salvadoran people were frustrated, they were repressed, and impeded in deciding with autonomy over the economic and political trajectory that our country should follow.
It would suppose violating a right that the Latin American bishops gathered in Puebla publicly acknowledged when we said: "The legitimate self-determination of our countries that permits them to organize according to their own disposition and history, and to cooperate in a new international order..." (Puebla Synod, 505.)
I hope that your religious convictions and your sensibilities in pro defense of human rights will compel you to accept my petition, avoiding with it a major spilling of blood in my long-suffered country.
+ Oscar A. Romero (Archbishop)
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