|Sumpul River massacre|
|Part of the Salvadoran Civil War|
|Location||Sumpul River near Las Aradas, Chalatenango, El Salvador|
|Date||May 14, 1980|
|Shooting, mass murder|
The Sumpul River massacre (Spanish : masacre del Sumpul ) took place in Chalatenango, El Salvador on May 13, 1980 during the Salvadoran Civil War. Salvadoran Armed Forces and pro-government paramilitaries launched an offensive to disrupt the activities of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). The offensive created many refugees who were attacked the next day by the Salvadoran forces. The Honduran military prevented them from fleeing into Honduras, and between 300 and 600 refugees died. Both El Salvador and Honduras denied responsibility for the incident. In 1993, the United Nations Truth Commission described the incident as a serious violation of international law.
Following the 1969 Football War between El Salvador and Honduras, the Organization of American States (OAS) negotiated a ceasefire that established an OAS-monitored demilitarized zone (DMZ) three kilometers wide on each side of the border. When the Salvadoran Civil War began, many villages, including the hamlet Las Aradas, were abandoned and camps were formed within the DMZ on the Honduran side of the border to avoid harassment from the military, as well as the National Guard and paramilitary Organización Democrática Nacionalista (ORDEN), which did not cross the border.
The Honduran government became concerned with Salvadoran refugees residing in Honduras, one of the causes of the Football War. The Salvadoran government believed these camps were being used by FMLN guerrillas, partly based on the membership of many peasants within the DMZ in the Federación de Trabajadores del Campo, a political organization promoting agrarian reform and seen by the Salvadoran government as supporting the guerillas.In early 1980, FMLN guerrillas organized several small Salvadoran border villages and provided rudimentary military training. In early May, they began farming nearby fallow land.
In the last two weeks of March 1980, the Honduran government pressured refugees to return to El Salvador; a group returned to Las Aradas. Following their return, twice National Guard and ORDEN troops advanced on Las Aradas, and twice the refugees fled across the river. On May 5, Honduran and Salvadoran military leaders met on the border to discuss how to prevent Salvadoran guerillas from entering Honduras. A few days later, the Honduran government pressured refugees to return to Las Aradas, and some did.
On May 13, Salvadoran forces consisting of Military Detachment No. 1, the National Guard and ORDEN commenced an anti-guerilla operation.From several points, including the nearby village of Las Vueltas, they converged on Las Aradas, clashing with guerillas many times. Also on May 13, 150 Honduran soldiers belonging to the 12th Battalion, based in Santa Rosa de Copán, arrived in Santa Lucía, Honduras, and San José, Honduras, near the Sumpul River and prevented the refugees from crossing the border.
On May 14, 1980, Salvadoran soldiers ordered the refugees to return from Sumpul River. They threatened to throw children into the river. The refugees did not return. am, the soldiers fired "fistfuls" of bullets penetrating walls and killing many people and cattle. They gathered and killed many refugees, shooting them with machine guns, bludgeoning them with rifle butts or goring them with machetes and military knives. ORDEN members threw babies and young children into the air and cleaved or decapitated them with machetes.At 10:00
The refugees attempted to cross the Sumpul river into Honduras,but Honduran soldiers prevented them, possibly by shooting. Salvadoran soldiers shot many refugees attempting to cross the river, while many others, especially children, drowned. Helicopters strafed the refugees hiding along stone fences.
The massacre lasted sixto nine hours, leaving at least 300 dead. Many sources place the death toll at 600.
Villages abandoned by the refugees during the attack remained deserted.The National Guard prevented refugees from returning; the Salvadoran and Honduran armies both departed the next day.
The massacre received widespread media attention in Honduras. On May 21, the Costa Rican morning news program Radio Noticias del Continente transmitted the first news report.Salvadoran priests and rescue workers attempting to visit the site of the massacre a few days later were turned away, but a Honduran priest reported that "there were so many vultures picking at the bodies in the water that it looked like a black carpet." Two foreign journalists visited the site from Honduras and conducted interviews of survivors, publishing their findings in a leaflet. A few days after the massacre, the newspaper Tiempo published an interview with Father Roberto Yalaga, a priest in the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, who confirmed that at least 325 Salvadorians had been killed and that a Honduran military detachment had cordoned off the bank of the Sumpul river.
Cases of typhoid in other villages along the river appeared within a week and were attributed to the large quantity of decomposing corpses in the river.The bodies were not buried, and piles of bones from the massacre could still be seen a year later.
On June 19, the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán filed a formal complaint, signed by its 38 pastoral workers. The complaint accused the government and armed forces of Honduras of complicity in the massacre and in the subsequent cover-up. It also accused the OAS of complicity in the cover-up. The Archdiocese of San Salvador endorsed and associated itself with the complaint by the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán in a communiqué published on June 29, and the Honduran Conference of Bishops, headed by the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Monsignor Héctor E. Santos, endorsed the accusations in a July 1 press release.
Salvadoran Defense Minister José Guillermo García denied the massacre, stating, "There have been dead in that area, but not in such 'industrial' quantities."The U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa also denied the massacre. In an official statement, Honduras described the accusations as libelous and irresponsible. Honduran President Policarpo Paz denied the claims in a nationally broadcast radio speech. Honduran Minister of Government Cristóbal Díaz García told the press that no one doubted that a massacre had occurred, but claimed that the Honduran military had not been involved and that government would not set up a commission to investigate. Alfonso Rodríguez Rincón, Chief of the OAS observers, dismissed the accusation by the Honduran Church as the product of an overactive imagination, stating that the OAS knew nothing about the incident. He noted that there were numerous operations on the Salvadorian side and it was conceivable that many guerrillas had been killed, speculating that the incident was being confused with another one.
In October 1980, President José Napoleón Duarte, in an interview with United Church Observer , acknowledged that a military operation had taken place in the Sumpul river area and said that some 300 people, all of them "communist guerrillas", had died.The UN Truth Commission later determined OAS observers reported a major clash between Salvadoran forces and the FMLN took place May 14–16, resulting in 200 deaths that included civilians, but the report included no evidence of a massacre.
The U.S. embassy eventually said "something happened."A Salvadoran official visiting Washington, D.C., in April 1981 said 135 people had died but disputed most other details of the incident. A year after the massacre, García said a number of people had died in a clash on May 14, 1980, at the Sumpul river, but the number had been greatly exaggerated.
On October 26, 1992, survivors of the Sumpul river massacre filed a judicial complaint with the Chalatenango Court of First Instance, which was admitted under the title "on verifying the murder of 600 people".
On April 1, 1993, the United Nations published its "Report of the UN Truth Commission on El Salvador", finding that there was "substantial evidence" that Salvadoran forces "massacred no less than 300 unarmed civilians" and that "the massacre was made possible by the cooperation of the Honduran armed forces." It noted that "Salvadorian military authorities were guilty of a cover-up of the incident", and described the massacre as "a serious violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law".
On May 14, 2012, the 32nd anniversary of the massacre, the Salvadoran Ministry of Culture declared Las Aradas "Protected Cultural Property".
In July 2016, when the Salvadoran Supreme Court struck down an amnesty law protecting participants in the civil war, enabling their prosecution, the case regarding the massacre remained open.
Association of Survivors of the Sumpul Massacre and Other Massacres of Chalatenango
The Chalatenango Massacres: Documentary Project
Surviving Memory in Postwar El Salvador: The Surviving Memory in Postwar El Salvador collaborative research initiative is an international partnership of survivors, scholars, artists, lawyers, museums, architects, community organizers, municipal governments, civil society organizations and mental health professionals who are committed to documenting the history of the Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992) and preventing future violence.
El Salvador, officially the Republic of El Salvador, is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. It is bordered on the northeast by Honduras, on the northwest by Guatemala, and on the south by the Pacific Ocean. El Salvador's capital and largest city is San Salvador. As of 2018, the country had a population of approximately 6.42 million, mostly consisting of European and Native American descent.
The Armed Forces of El Salvador are the official governmental military forces of El Salvador. The Forces have three branches: the Salvadoran Army, the Air Force of El Salvador and the Navy of El Salvador. The Forces were founded in 1840 at the time of the dissolution of the United Provinces of Central America. Between 1978 and 1992, the Salvadoran armed forces fought a civil war against the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN). The military is accused of committing massacres, killings, torture and abuses of human rights during this time.
The Football War was a brief war fought between El Salvador and Honduras in 1969. Existing tensions between the two countries coincided with rioting during a 1970 FIFA World Cup qualifier. The war began on 14 July 1969, when the Salvadoran military launched an attack against Honduras. The Organization of American States (OAS) negotiated a cease-fire on the night of 18 July, which took full effect on 20 July. Salvadoran troops were withdrawn in early August.
The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front is one of the two major political parties in El Salvador.
The El Mozote Massacre took place in and around the village of el Mozote, in Morazán Department, El Salvador, on December 11, 1981 when the Salvadoran Army killed more than 800 civilians during the Salvadoran Civil War. The el Mozote massacre was preceded by La Matanza or the massacre of Pipil peasants in 1932, the Student massacre of 1975, and the Óscar Romero funeral and Sumpul River massacres of 1980. It was followed by the el Calabozo massacre in 1982, the Tenango-Guadalupe and Tenancingo-Copapayo massacres in 1983, and the Guaslinga-Los Llanitos massacre in 1984.
San Ignacio is a municipality of El Salvador.
Las Vueltas is a municipality in the Chalatenango Department in the north of El Salvador. The municipality is bordered to the north by Ojos de Agua, to the east by Las Flores, to the south by Chalatenango, and to the northeast by Concepción Quezaltepeque. The territory covers 36.83 km² and the population was, as of 2005, of 2,101 inhabitants. For its administration, the municipality is divided into six cantones and 35 caseríos.
The Salvadoran Civil War was a civil war in El Salvador fought between the military-led junta government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) from 15 October 1979 to 16 January 1992. A coup on October 15, 1979, was followed by killings of anti-coup protesters by the government and of anti-disorder protesters by the guerrillas, and is widely seen as the start of civil war.
San José Las Flores is a municipality and city in Chalatenango Department, El Salvador. It played an important and strategic role during the Salvadoran Civil War. The town was one of the first settlements to be repopulated by refugees who had been driven away by government bombing during the early 1980s. In 1986, in defiance of the military, the civilian population returned to reconstruct the village. This was part of a campaign of a number of towns throughout northern El Salvador, with the assistance of humanitarian groups in North America and Europe, to resist the militarization of the area and prevent continued bombing during the war. For this reason, a number of U.S. cities became sister cities with Salvadoran towns to demonstrate support for the civilians during the war. Nearby towns that were also in this movement include Arcatao and Guarjila, which were repopulated in 1987.
The Salvadoran Army is the land branch and largest of the Armed Forces of El Salvador. In 2006 the government of El Salvador approached the Israeli ambassador to El Salvador seeking assistance in modernising its army.
San Jose Ojos de Agua is a municipality is located in the department of Chalatenango in the North of El Salvador
El Carrizal is a municipality located in the department of Chalatenango in the North of El Salvador.
Rufina Amaya was the sole survivor of the El Mozote massacre on December 11 and December 12, 1981, in the Salvadoran department of Morazán during the Salvadoran Civil War. Her testimony of the attacks, reported shortly afterward by two American reporters but called into question by the U.S. journalism community as well as by the U.S. and Salvadoran governments, was instrumental in the eventual investigation by the United Nations Commission on the Truth for El Salvador after the end of the war. The investigation led to the November 1992 exhumation of bodies buried at the site and the commission's conclusion that Amaya's testimony had accurately represented the events.
The Sumpul is a river in north-western El Salvador on the border of Honduras. It flows through the Chalatenango Department.
ORDEN or Organización Democrática Nacionalista was a Salvadoran paramilitary organization founded under the military rule of Julio Adalberto Rivera, headed by José Alberto Medrano. ORDEN helped control the 1972 elections, in which reform-minded José Napoleón Duarte lost to Arturo Armando Molina due to fraud.
Lieutenant Colonel Domingo Monterrosa Barrios was a military commander of the Armed Forces of El Salvador during the Salvadoran Civil War.
During the Salvadoran Civil War, on 16 November 1989, Salvadoran Army soldiers killed six Jesuits and two others at their residence on the campus of José Simeón Cañas Central American University in San Salvador, El Salvador. The Jesuits were advocates of a negotiated settlement between the government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), the guerilla organization that had fought the government for a decade. The murders attracted international attention to the Jesuits' efforts and increased international pressure for a cease-fire, representing one of the key turning points that led toward a negotiated settlement to the war.
The People's Revolutionary Army was one of five leftist guerrilla organizations that comprised the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). Formed on October 10, 1980, the FMLN was one of the main participants in the Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992).
The El Calabozo massacre was an incident during the Salvadoran Civil War on 21–22 August 1982, in which more than two hundred people, including children and elderly, were reportedly killed at El Calabozo by the Atlacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran Army.
The Truth Commission for El Salvador was a restorative justice truth commission approved by the United Nations to investigate the grave wrongdoings that occurred throughout the country's twelve year civil war. It is estimated that 1.4 percent of the Salvadoran population was killed during the war. The commission operated from July 1992 until March 1993, when its findings were published in the final report, From Madness to Hope. The eight-month period heard from over 2,000 witness testimonies and compiled information from an additional 20,000 witness statements.