A mural of Monseñor by Juana Alicia in San Francisco, painted in 1996.
Latin America: Week in Review

El Salvador Marks the Thirtieth Anniversary of Óscar Romero’s Assassination

March 25, 2010 By Staff
A mural of Monseñor by Juana Alicia in San Francisco, painted in 1996.

A mural of Monseñor Óscar Romero by Juana Alicia in San Francisco, painted in 1996.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Wednesday marked the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador for the Roman Catholic Church. This anniversary was remembered all over El Salvador as the passing of el Santo de America, as some call Romero.

Congregations of Catholics and evangelicals filled hundreds of churches across the country to honor Romero.  “He was a national leader.  A leader for all the people, and now is a symbol for everyone, not just Catholics but also for evangelicals― all Christians because he was someone who fought for the poor,” said a Salvadoran congregant observing the anniversary.

Others marched through the streets of San Salvador in remembrance of Romero and many smaller cities held festivals to honor him, including making large sand paintings in Ciudad Barrios, Romero’s birthplace.

While Romero did not affiliate himself directly with the guerilla movement Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), he has been adopted as a symbol of the left because of his embrace of liberation theology, which applies the teachings of Christ for the betterment of the poor.

Romero’s shift to the left after his appointment as archbishop made him a target of the conservative forces that eventually killed him. Romero was shot after giving the homily during a Mass in San Salvador. No one has ever been charged for the murder and a 1993 law enacted as part of the peace process grants amnesty to anyone involved in killings in the lead-up to and during the civil war.

The day before his assassination, Romero gave a Mass during which he said, “before completing an order to kill any man, the law of God must prevail that says: ‘thou shall not kill.’  No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God.  No one has to obey an immoral law.”

There is a movement in El Salvador and elsewhere to officially canonize Romero as a Catholic Saint. The canonization of Mother Teresa for working for the poor of Kolkata is often cited as an example of why Romero also deserves sainthood.

Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes asked forgiveness in the name of the Salvadoran people for the assassination of the Archbishop, and said “we remember his death, but we honor his life.”

Funes is the first leftist President every to be elected in El Salvador and his party, the FMLN, evolved from the guerilla movement during the civil war.

The online Salvadoran newspaper El Faro recently published an exclusive interview with Capt. Rafael Saravia, who participated in the assassination, that reveals new details about the Romero’s killing. The article overloaded El Faro’s Web site, with 200,000 visitors on the first day it was released, according to Nicaragua’s El Confidential (cited by U.T. Knight Center for the Americas).

Just published at the Latin America News Dispatch

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • The United States Treasury Department issued sanctions Wednesday on 54 alleged members of Mexico’s Gulf cartel and Los Zetas, both organizations involved in drug trafficking and violence near the U.S-Mexico border.
  • Mexico’s state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos awarded the Fluor corporation engineering, procurement and construction contracts for two low-sulfur gasoline projects worth $622 million.


  • The Obama administration asked Congress to approve a $2.8 billion aid package to Haiti.
  • Gloria Estefan announced she would spearhead a march in solidarity with Cuba’s “Ladies in White,” a group of women relatives of 73 dissidents who the Cuban government arrested in 2003 for allegedly conspiring with Washington against the state.
  • Telecommunications company Trilogy urged earthquake-devastated Haiti to abandon its compromised landline telephone system and instead go 100 percent mobile.

Central America

  • A United Nations human rights expert warned Wednesday that murders, kidnapping and sexual assaults against women and girls in El Salvador is still very pervasive.
  • Private security contractors killed a Somali pirate in a shootout after he attempted to take over a Panama-flagged cargo ship.
  • Fitch ratings upgraded Panama’s credit rating to a BBB-minus rating Tuesday, becoming the first agency to give the country the prized grade status.


Southern Cone

Image: Franco Folini @ Flickr.

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Dave says:

Romero and Christ live

resurrected in the people

thank you Archbishop Romero for being the voice of the voiceless!

rita ros-planas says:

The Liberation Theology movement of which Arzobispo Romero was a shining beacon is about Christlike compassion for all, particularly the poor and disfranchised–it has nothing to do with so-called leftists movements who stand for imposing their political agenda by taking human lives–“Che” style–and who in the final analysis are no different than the conservative right wing assassins of this , maybe not a saint, but certainly a true socialist humanist.

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