SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — El Salvador’s recently inaugurated president on Tuesday promised to comply with reparations ordered by an international court for relatives of the victims of the El Mozote massacre, one of the bloodiest chapters of the country’s 1980-1992 civil war.
Some 978 residents of the village of El Mozote, including 477 children, were killed in 1981 by soldiers who entered the area looking for guerrillas but who killed civilians instead, officials say.
In 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned the Salvadoran state for the massacre and ordered reparations. But victims’ relatives say the reparations have been only half fulfilled or not fulfilled at all.
President Nayib Bukele, who took office on June 1, promised to carry out the reparations and make El Mozote “an example of development for the rest of the country.”
“We will invest in the community as has not been done in a long time and we will show the country and world that reparations can be made in such cases,” Bukele told relatives of massacre victims he received in the presidential palace. “It must be done with urgency.”
On assuming the presidency, Bukele ordered the country’s armed forces to remove the name of Col. Domingo Monterrosa, then-commander of the U.S.-trained Atlacatl battalion, from an army barracks. A U.N. truth commission identified Monterrosa as one of those responsible for the massacre.
The El Mozote case was reopened in 2016 when El Salvador’s Supreme Court overturned a 1993 amnesty for civil war crimes.