Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Leonel Gómez, Salvadoran human rights activist, dies -

There is an interesting obituary in Tuesday's Washington Post about Leonel Gómez, Salvadoran human rights activist.  Gomez was born in 1940 in Santa Ana, El Salvador to a coffee growing family.  He was later involved in the land reform program of the late 1970s that the US and the moderates pushed in hopes of heading off revolution.  Both the oligarchy and the FMLN saw land reform as a threat, but it was members of the National Guard that killed Gomez' boss at the Institute for Agrarian Transformation, Roldofo Viera, and two American advisers, Michael Hammer and David Pearlman, in 1981.  Fortunately, Gomez was late to the meeting at which the three others were killed.

Gomez lived in exile in the US for most of the 1980s and appeared before Congress several times.  During one piece of testimony early in the war, he made it clear to Congress who they were supporting in El Salvador's civil war.
"In conclusion, I ask you: Is this the kind of government you want to support?" he told the Senate subcommittee on inter-American affairs on March 11, 1981. "I ask you to think about the corruption, the bloodshed, the killings that have been perpetuated by the Salvadoran army time after time. This is the same army that once tried to sell 10,000 machine guns to the American mafia. This is the same army that raped and killed four American missionaries. What more do you need to know? How long will you have to wait until the American people rise up and tell you what everyone already knows?"

Gomez later went on to assist the Moakley Commission as well as investigations into death squads, organized crime, and Gilberto Soto in the postwar period.  Rest in Peace.

Please take a look at the entire obituary, it's less than two pages.

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