Sunday, March 04, 2007

Oscar Romero- Martyr



Excerpt:
On March 24, 1980 Oscar Romero was in church finishing up his homily when Oscar was shot. Some of his nuns ran up to the altar, but many stayed down in the church too shocked to even move. It was said that he was "gasping for breath and choking on his own blood" . One of the last things Oscar said was this prayer; "God’s reign is already present on our earth in mystery. When the Lord comes, it will be brought to perfection. That is the hope that inspires Christians. We know that every effort to better society, especially when injustice and sin are so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us."

SOURCE:
http://www.ccds.charlotte.nc.us/History/Americas/04/ball/ball.htm

I have written before some things about the war in El Salvador, the war against Christian liberation theology and the U.S. "covert" participation in it during the 1980s. The last article I posted on this topic was a bit touchy because it bespoke of John Paul's participation. This article is an excellent one about Father Romero. He is one of my heroes. Ironically he has been canonized. This month will mark the 27th anniversary since his murder. I truly admire a man like Romero who will die, unafraid, for his beliefs. Oscar Romero has my highest respect. Those that killed him and those who armed and backed the killers have none.

See more: http://geotheology.blogspot.com/2006/12/flashback-war-against-christian.html

Hear About Reagan and the Death Squads HERE

18 comments:

Scott Starr said...

For another outstanding article about Romero, martyrdom and the eucharist, entitled;
"Dying for the eucharist or being killed by it? Romero's challenge to first-world Christians"... click HERE

Scott Starr said...

Here is an excerpt from the article linked just above:

"Discerning the body must mean being able to identify truthfully where the body is not whole, where divisions exist. One of the limitations we North Americans tend to labor under is the illusion that we are not limited, that we can sympathize and identify with anyone, anywhere. As the nightly news beams images of suffering people into our living rooms from around the globe, we assume that we can identify with and often fix their problems. When my classes read Rigoberta Menchu's autobiography, we all identify with her and the Indian people of Guatemala, and we become righteously indignant at their treatment at the hands of the ladinos, or upper-class people of European extraction. This is good insofar as it comes from a deep impulse of compassion, but it can also give us permission to ignore the fact that-for most of us in the class-we are the ladinos! The bullet that shattered in Oscar Romero's chest was made in the USA, as was the rifle that shot it. Both were paid for with our tax dollars. We also paid to train two of the three officers responsible for the assassination at the U.S. Army School of the Americas in Fort Benning, GA. When I watch the movie Romero, I want desperately for Romero and the Salvadoran poor to be "us." The truth is, however, that I am "them" as much as I am "us." The first step in discerning the body is recognizing the reality of these divisions."

...and another:
"Fortunately, our eucharistic communion gives us hope that this is not the final word. Besides shining a light on the divisions that exist, discerning the body includes an exercise in dissolving those divisions, blurring the lines between "them" and "us." In the body of Christ, Paul continues to tell the Corinthians, people are distinguished from each other, not by class or race or nationality, but by charisms given them by the Holy Spirit. Each has a different role to play in the service of the whole, and the weakest members are the most indispensable, to be treated with the greatest honor. Therefore, "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it" (1 Cor 12:26). The eucharist gives us hope by helping us to discern the deep reality that all people are members or potential members of the body of Christ. The body of Christ transgresses artificial national borders that separate the United States from El Salvador or Iraq. By the estimate of the United Nations, 500,000 Iraqi children have died as a result of the U.S.-imposed economic sanctions against Iraq; Christ invites us to experience that suffering as our suffering, suffering that takes place in our very body. What a difference that would make in the tolerance we have for the outrages done in our name."

Scott Starr said...

...and yet another excerpt...this is a truly awesome article:

"Of course, the voluntary assumption of suffering is not terribly popular in the culture in which we find ourselves. The growing pressure to normalize euthanasia and the widespread sympathy for Dr. Kevorkian indicate that increasingly the preferred way to deal with suffering is to eliminate the sufferer. This is perhaps one society-wide symptom of the sickness that Paul describes; our fear of suffering may be killing us from within. To take on the suffering of others may be central to Christianity, as the martyrs attest, but it is becoming increasingly marginal in this society. Sacrifice of the self is identified with a kind of morbid masochism that denies the goodness of creation.

In Christian thought, however, nothing could be farther from the truth. Suffering is not a good in itself; it is simply something that must be encountered if one is to speak the truth about the re-creation of the world through Jesus Christ. If one speaks truthfully of the in-breaking kingdom of light in a world of darkness, the powers of darkness are going to resist. But the suffering that will be thus encountered is not only not a good, it is not anything at all. It does not ultimately have any reality, and it is passing away. In the meantime, suffering is simply a consequence of discerning the body and speaking the truth. If we do not meet with resistance, then we must not be speaking the truth. We must find ways, even small ways, to put ourselves in the line of fire. This is good news, because we are made able by Christ in the eucharist to overcome our fear, our fear of death, our fear of each other. The cross is an invitation to liberating joy. This is why Jesus can say, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:10). "

Scott Starr said...

"Good societies have cultivated fearlessness and hope among their citizens. Good politics has always been about real courage, real fearlessness...not by inspiration and control through the manipulation of fear. Take Ghandi whose ultimate weapon was fearlessness- against one of the worst empires of our times- and the very notion of not co-operating with that empire was based on fearlessness. When Martin Luther King walked in the Ghandian tradition he walked in fearlessness. Every leader worth their name- promotes fearlessness... including Jesus Christ" - Vandana Shiva & Scott Starr

Scott Starr said...

A Timeline of CIA Meddling in Latin America -- 1954 to 1993

SOURCE

compiled by Steve Kangas

1954

Guatemala - CIA overthrows the democratically elected Jacob Arbenz in a military coup. Arbenz has threatened to nationalize the Rockefeller-owned United Fruit Company, in which CIA Director Allen Dulles also owns stock. Arbenz is replaced with a series of right-wing dictators whose bloodthirsty policies will kill over 100,000 Guatemalans in the next 40 years.

1959

Haiti - The U.S. military helps "Papa Doc" Duvalier become dictator of Haiti. He creates his own private police force, the "Tonton Macoutes," who terrorize the population with machetes. They will kill over 100,000 during the Duvalier family reign. The U.S. does not protest their dismal human rights record.

1961

The Bay of Pigs - The CIA sends 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Castro's Cuba. But "Operation Mongoose" fails, due to poor planning, security and backing. The planners had imagined that the invasion will spark a popular uprising against Castro -- which never happens. A promised American air strike also never occurs. This is the CIA's first public setback, causing President Kennedy to fire CIA Director Allen Dulles.

["Before January 1959, Cuba's economy was dominated by US interests, which owned 40% of the sugar production, including seven of the ten largest estates, 90% of the telephone and electricity utilities, the oil refineries, most of the mining industry, and some of the banks." --Oxfam America, Cuba: Going Against the Grain]

["In February 1955, Vice President Richard Nixon traveled to Havana to embrace [General Fulgencio] Batista at the despot's lavish private palace, praise 'the competence and stability' of his regime, award him a medal of honor, and compare him with Abraham Lincoln. Nixon hailed Batista's Cuba as a land that 'shares with us the same democratic ideals of peace, freedom and the dignity of man.'

"When he returned to Washington, the vice president reported to the cabinet that Batista was 'a very remarkable man ... older and wiser ... desirous of doing a good job for Cuba rather than Batista ... concerned about social progress...' And Nixon reported that Batista had vowed to 'deal with the Commies.'

"What Nixon omitted from his report was ... the rampant government corruption under Batista -- and the extreme poverty of most Cubans. The American vice president also ignored Batista's suspension of constitutional guarantees, his dissolution of the country's political parties, and his use of the police and army to murder political opponents. Twenty thousand Cubans reportedly died at the hands of Batista's thugs." --Don Folsum, The Mob's President: Richard Nixon's Secret Ties to the Mafia]

Dominican Republic - The CIA assassinates Rafael Trujillo, a murderous dictator Washington has supported since 1930. Trujillo's business interests have grown so large (about 60 percent of the economy) that they have begun competing with American business interests.

Ecuador - The CIA-backed military forces the democratically elected President Jose Velasco to resign. Vice President Carlos Arosemana replaces him; the CIA fills the now vacant vice presidency with its own man.

1963

Dominican Republic - The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Juan Bosch in a military coup. The CIA installs a repressive, right-wing junta.

Ecuador - A CIA-backed military coup overthrows President Arosemana, whose independent (not socialist) policies have become unacceptable to Washington. A military junta assumes command, cancels the 1964 elections, and begins abusing human rights.

1964

Brazil - A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the democratically elected government of Joao Goulart. The junta that replaces it will, in the next two decades, become one of the most bloodthirsty in history. General Castelo Branco will create Latin America's first death squads, or bands of secret police who hunt down "communists" for torture, interrogation and murder. Often these "communists" are no more than Branco's political opponents. Later it is revealed that the CIA trains the death squads.

1965

Dominican Republic - A popular rebellion breaks out, promising to reinstall Juan Bosch as the country's elected leader. The revolution is crushed when U.S. Marines land to uphold the military regime by force. The CIA directs everything behind the scenes.

1968

Bolivia - A CIA-organized military operation captures legendary guerilla Che Guevara. The CIA wants to keep him alive for interrogation, but the Bolivian government executes him to prevent worldwide calls for clemency.

1969

Uruguay - The notorious CIA torturer Dan Mitrione arrives in Uruguay, a country torn with political strife. Whereas right-wing forces previously used torture only as a last resort, Mitrione convinces them to use it as a routine, widespread practice. "The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect," is his motto. The torture techniques he teaches to the death squads rival the Nazis'. He eventually becomes so feared that revolutionaries will kidnap and murder him a year later.

1971

Bolivia - After half a decade of CIA-inspired political turmoil, a CIA-backed military coup overthrows the leftist President Juan Torres. In the next two years, dictator Hugo Banzer will have over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, then tortured, raped and executed.

Haiti - "Papa Doc" Duvalier dies, leaving his 19-year old son "Baby Doc" Duvalier the dictator of Haiti. His son continues his bloody reign with full knowledge of the CIA.

1973

Chile - The CIA overthrows and assassinates Salvador Allende, Latin America's first democratically elected socialist leader. The problems begin when Allende nationalizes American-owned firms in Chile. ITT offers the CIA $1 million for a coup (reportedly refused). The CIA replaces Allende with General Augusto Pinochet, who will torture and murder thousands of his own countrymen in a crackdown on labor leaders and the political left.

1979

El Salvador - An idealistic group of young military officers, repulsed by the massacre of the poor, overthrows the right-wing government. However, the U.S. compels the inexperienced officers to include many of the old guard in key positions in their new government. Soon, things are back to "normal" - the military government is repressing and killing poor civilian protesters. Many of the young military and civilian reformers, finding themselves powerless, resign in disgust.

Nicaragua - Anastasios Samoza II, the CIA-backed dictator, falls. The Marxist Sandinistas take over government, and they are initially popular because of their commitment to land and anti-poverty reform. Samoza had a murderous and hated personal army called the National Guard. Remnants of the Guard will become the Contras, who fight a CIA-backed guerilla war against the Sandinista government throughout the 1980s.

1980

El Salvador - The Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, pleads with President Carter "Christian to Christian" to stop aiding the military government slaughtering his people. Carter refuses. Shortly afterwards, right-wing leader Roberto D'Aubuisson has Romero shot through the heart while saying Mass. The country soon dissolves into civil war, with the peasants in the hills fighting against the military government. The CIA and U.S. Armed Forces supply the government with overwhelming military and intelligence superiority. CIA-trained death squads roam the countryside, committing atrocities like that of El Mazote in 1982, where they massacre between 700 and 1000 men, women and children. By 1992, some 63,000 Salvadorans will be killed.

1981

Iran/Contra Begins - The CIA begins selling arms to Iran at high prices, using the profits to arm the Contras fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. President Reagan vows that the Sandinistas will be "pressured" until "they say 'uncle.'" The CIA's Freedom Fighter's Manual disbursed to the Contras includes instruction on economic sabotage, propaganda, extortion, bribery, blackmail, interrogation, torture, murder and political assassination.

1983

Honduras - The CIA gives Honduran military officers the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual - 1983, which teaches how to torture people. Honduras' notorious "Battalion 316" then uses these techniques, with the CIA's full knowledge, on thousands of leftist dissidents. At least 184 are murdered.

1984

The Boland Amendment - The last of a series of Boland Amendments is passed. These amendments have reduced CIA aid to the Contras; the last one cuts it off completely. However, CIA Director William Casey is already prepared to "hand off" the operation to Colonel Oliver North, who illegally continues supplying the Contras through the CIA's informal, secret, and self-financing network. This includes "humanitarian aid" donated by Adolph Coors and William Simon, and military aid funded by Iranian arms sales.

1986

Eugene Hasenfus - Nicaragua shoots down a C-123 transport plane carrying military supplies to the Contras. The lone survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, turns out to be a CIA employee, as are the two dead pilots. The airplane belongs to Southern Air Transport, a CIA front. The incident makes a mockery of President Reagan's claims that the CIA is not illegally arming the Contras.

Iran/Contra Scandal - Although the details have long been known, the Iran/Contra scandal finally captures the media's attention in 1986. Congress holds hearings, and several key figures (like Oliver North) lie under oath to protect the intelligence community. CIA Director William Casey dies of brain cancer before Congress can question him. All reforms enacted by Congress after the scandal are purely cosmetic.

Haiti - Rising popular revolt in Haiti means that "Baby Doc" Duvalier will remain "President for Life" only if he has a short one. The U.S., which hates instability in a puppet country, flies the despotic Duvalier to the South of France for a comfortable retirement. The CIA then rigs the upcoming elections in favor of another right-wing military strongman. However, violence keeps the country in political turmoil for another four years. The CIA tries to strengthen the military by creating the National Intelligence Service (SIN), which suppresses popular revolt through torture and assassination.

1989

Panama - The U.S. invades Panama to overthrow a dictator of its own making, General Manuel Noriega. Noriega has been on the CIA's payroll since 1966, and has been transporting drugs with the CIA's knowledge since 1972. By the late 80s, Noriega's growing independence and intransigence have angered Washington... so out he goes.

1990

Haiti - Competing against 10 comparatively wealthy candidates, leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide captures 68 percent of the vote. After only eight months in power, however, the CIA-backed military deposes him. More military dictators brutalize the country, as thousands of Haitian refugees escape the turmoil in barely seaworthy boats. As popular opinion calls for Aristide's return, the CIA begins a disinformation campaign painting the courageous priest as mentally unstable.

1993

Haiti - The chaos in Haiti grows so bad that President Clinton has no choice but to remove the Haitian military dictator, Raoul Cedras, on threat of U.S. invasion. The U.S. occupiers do not arrest Haiti's military leaders for crimes against humanity, but instead ensure their safety and rich retirements. Aristide is returned to power only after being forced to accept an agenda favorable to the country's ruling class.

Scott Starr said...

Killing Hope- U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II
by William Blum
published by Common Courage Press in 1995

Scott Starr said...

Archbishop Oscar Romero

The Last Sermon (1980)

Let no one be offended because we use the divine words read at our mass to shed light on the social, political and economic situation of our people. Not to do so would be unchristian. Christ desires to unite himself with humanity, so that the light he brings from God might become life for nations and individuals.

I know many are shocked by this preaching and want to accuse us of forsaking the gospel for politics. But I reject this accusation. I am trying to bring to life the message of the Second Vatican Council and the meetings at Medellin and Puebla. The documents from these meetings should not just be studied theoretically. They should be brought to life and translated into the real struggle to preach the gospel as it should be for our people. Each week I go about the country listening to the cries of the people, their pain from so much crime, and the ignominy of so much violence. Each week I ask the Lord to give me the right words to console, to denounce, to call for repentance. And even though I may be a voice crying in the desert, I know that the church is making the effort to fulfill its mission....

Every country lives its own "exodus"; today El Salvador is living its own exodus. Today we are passing to our liberation through a desert strewn with bodies and where anguish and pain are devastating us. Many suffer the temptation of those who walked with Moses and wanted to turn back and did not work together. It is the same old story. God, however, wants to save the people by making a new history....

History will not fail; God sustains it. That is why I say that insofar as historical projects attempt to reflect the eternal plan of God, to that extent they reflect the kingdom of God. This attempt is the work of the church. Because of this, the church, the people of God in history, is not attached to any one social system, to any political organization, to any party. The church does not identify herself with any of those forces because she is the eternal pilgrim of history and is indicating at every historical moment what reflects the kingdom of God and what does not reflect the kingdom of God. She is the servant of the Kingdom of God.

The great task of Christians must be to absorb the spirit of God's kingdom and, with souls filled with the kingdom of God, to work on the projects of history. It's fine to be organized in popular groups; it's all right to form political parties; it's all right to take part in the government. It's fine as long as you are a christian who carries the reflection of the kingdom of God and tries to establish it where you are working, and as long as you are not being used to further worldly ambitions. This is the great duty of the people of today. My dear Christians, I have always told you, and I will repeat, that the true liberators of our people must come from us Christians, from the people of God. Any historical plan that's not based on what we spoke of in the first point-the dignity of the human being, the love of God, the kingdom of Christ among people-will be a fleeting project. Your project, however, will grow in stability the more it reflects the eternal design of God. It will be a solution of the common good of the people every time, if it meets the needs of the people.... Now I invite you to look at things through the eyes of the church, which is trying to be the kingdom of God on earth and so often must illuminate the realities of our national situation.

We have lived through a tremendously tragic week. I could not give you the facts before, but a week ago last Saturday, on 15 March, one of the largest and most distressing military operations was carried out in the countryside. The villages affected were La Laguna, Plan de Ocotes and El Rosario. The operation brought tragedy: a lot of ranches were burned, there was looting, and-inevitably-people were killed. In La Laguna, the attackers killed a married couple, Ernesto Navas and Audelia Mejia de Navas, their little children, Martin and Hilda, thirteen and seven years old, and eleven more peasants.

Other deaths have been reported, but we do not know the names of the dead. In Plan de Ocotes, two children and four peasants were killed, including two women. In El Rosario, three more peasants were killed. That was last Saturday.

Last Sunday, the following were assassinated in Arcatao by four members of ORDEN: peasants Marcelino Serrano, Vincente Ayala, twenty-four years old, and his son, Freddy. That same day, Fernando Hernandez Navarro, a peasant, was assassinated in Galera de Jutiapa, when he fled from the military.

Last Monday, 17 March, was a tremendously violent day. Bombs exploded in the capital as well as in the interior of the country. The damage was very substantial at the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture. The campus of the national university was under armed siege from dawn until 7 P.M. Throughout the day, constant bursts of machine-gun fire were heard in the university area. The archbishop's office intervened to protect people who found themselves caught inside.

On the Hacienda Colima, eighteen persons died, at least fifteen of whom were peasants. The administrator and the grocer of the ranch also died. The armed forces confirmed that there was a confrontation. A film of the events appeared on TV, and many analyzed interesting aspects of the situation.

At least fifty people died in serious incidents that day: in the capital, seven persons died in events at the Colonia Santa Lucia; on the outskirts of Tecnillantas, five people died; and in the area of the rubbish dump, after the evacuation of the site by the military, were found the bodies of four workers who had been captured in that action.

Sixteen peasants died in the village of Montepeque, thirty-eight kilometers along the road to Suchitoto. That same day, two students at the University of Central America were captured in Tecnillantas: Mario Nelson and Miguel Alberto Rodriguez Velado, who were brothers. The first one, after four days of illegal detention, was handed over to the courts. Not so his brother, who was wounded and is still held in illegal detention. Legal Aid is intervening on his behalf.

Amnesty International issued a press release in which it described the repression of the peasants, especially in the area of Chalatenango. The week's events confirm this report in spite of the fact the government denies it. As I entered the church, I was given a cable that says, "Amnesty International confirmed today [that was yesterday] that in El Salvador human rights are violated to extremes that have not been seen in other countries." That is what Patricio Fuentes (spokesman for the urgent action section for Central America in Swedish Amnesty International) said at a press conference in Managua, Nicaragua.

Fuentes confirmed that, during two weeks of investigations he carried out in El Salvador, he was able to establish that there had been eighty-three political assassinations between 10 and 14 March. He pointed out that Amnesty International recently condemned the government of El Salvador, alleging that it was responsible for six hundred political assassinations. The Salvadorean government defended itself against the charges, arguing that Amnesty International based its condemnation on unproved assumptions.

Fuentes said that Amnesty had established that in El Salvador human rights are violated to a worse degree than the repression in Chile after the coupe d'etat. The Salvadorean government also said that the six hundred dead were the result of armed confrontations between army troops and guerrillas. Fuentes said that during his stay u l El Salvador, he could see that the victims had been tortured before their deaths and mutilated afterward.

The spokesman of Amnesty International said that the victims' bodies characteristically appeared with the thumbs tied behind their backs. Corrosive liquids had been applied to the corpses to prevent identification of the victims by their relatives and to prevent international condemnation, the spokesman added. Nevertheless, the bodies were exhumed and the dead have been identified. Fuentes said that the repression carried out by the Salvadorean army was aimed at breaking the popular organizations through the assassination of their leaders in both town and country.

According to the spokesman of Amnesty International, at least three thousand five hundred peasants have fled from their homes to the capital to escape persecution. "We have complete lists in London and Sweden of young children and women who have been assassinated for being organized," Fuentes stated....

I would like to make a special appeal to the men of the army, and specifically to the ranks of the National Guard, the police and the military. Brothers, you come from our own people. You are killing your own brother peasants when any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God which says, "Thou shalt not kill." No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you recovered your consciences and obeyed your consciences rather than a sinful order. The church, the defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, of the person, cannot remain silent before such an abomination. We want the government to face the fact that reforms are valueless if they are to be carried out at the cost of so much blood. In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression.

The church preaches your liberation just as we have studied it in just as we have studied it in the holy Bible today. It is a liberation that has, above all else, respect for the dignity of the person, hope for humanity's common good, and the transcendence that looks before all to God and only from God derives its hope and its strength.



From The Church and Human Liberation, March 14, 1980.

Weiwen Ng said...

Thanks for your reflection on Oscar! Minor correction: he was shot as he was holding the chalice up for veneration at Eucharist.

Scott Starr said...

OOps, thanks sir, I knew that. Sorry for the slip.

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