The following is from After El Salvador by Jacinda Woodhead,
But more than that, I wondered what had changed about us, the audience, that we could sit there listening to these descriptions of torture, laughing in all the right places. We used to be outraged by the CIA’s training of death squads, by its trail of destruction in Central America, South America, Africa, by the Phoenix Program in Vietnam.
By El Salvador, where close to 100 000 people were killed or disappeared in the 70s and early 80s.
At noon, the men were blindfolded and killed in the town’s centre. Among them was Amaya’s husband, who was nearly blind. In the early afternoon the young women were taken to the hills nearby, where they were raped, then killed and burned. The old women were taken next and shot. … From her hiding place, Amaya heard soldiers discuss choking the children to death; subsequently she heard the children calling for help, but no shots. Among the children murdered were three of Amaya’s, all under ten years of age …
Later in Salvador, Joan Didion writes that the perpetrators of the Mozote Massacre (above) were ‘trained by American advisers’.
Journalist Allan Nairn revealed that the CIA trained the Salvadoran death squads in the use of interrogation and torture, and supplied security forces with various forms of surveillance for thousands of dissidents who went on to be murdered.
Often, they brought them to the headquarters of the treasury police, the national guard, the army and they tortured for them days. One former member of the Salvadoran treasury police, Rene Hurtado, described a course that was given at army general staff headquarters where American officers gave instruction in techniques including electroshock torture. Hurtado himself said he conducted such torture. He said, these are his words: ‘You put wires on the prisoner’s vital parts. You place the wires between the prisoner’s teeth, on the penis, on the vagina. The prisoners feel it more so the feet are in the water, and they are seated on iron so the blow is stronger… When it’s over, you just throw him in the alleys with a sign saying, Mano Blanco, ESA (Secret Anticommunist Army), or Maximiliano Hernandez Brigade.’
Seven years ago, the US announced they were establishing assassination squads in Iraq to target Sunni rebels; it’s appellation: ‘The Salvador Option.’ Nairn observed that on the one hand it was a perverse joke, but on the other, at least the US was finally admitting its involvement.
Read the rest here.