Christine Armario, Associated Press- The government’s key witness in a deportation proceeding against a former Central American general testified Monday that Jose Guillermo Garcia failed to investigate or discipline soldiers accused of atrocious human rights abuses during El Salvador’s brutal civil war.
Garcia told the U.S. ambassador in El Salvador there had not been a massacre in El Mozote in 1981, said Terry Karl, a political scientist at Stanford University. The diplomat initially believed him but later wrote in a document that Garcia called the killings “a novela.”
“When he called this a novela or fabrication, could it be his intelligence told him this had not occurred, or not occurred by the military?” Garcia’s attorney, Alina Cruz, asked during an extensive cross-examination of Karl.
“Whatever General Garcia believed at the time, he had the capacity since he commandeered a helicopter to see if there was any truth of that,” Karl said. “I know it was in his capacity to find out if there had been a massacre or not.”
The massacre in El Mozote left about 1,000 people dead. In all, 75,000 people died and thousands more were left missing during the civil war between 1979 and 1992. Karl said she expects the final number of deaths to climb as high as 100,000.
“My own statistical work is starting to show there are far more dead in El Salvador than we ever knew,” Karl said.