EL SALVADOR ISSUES OFFICIAL APOLOGY FOR CIVIL WAR ABUSES

COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 18 Jan 2010

Agence France-Presse - Inquirer

SAN SALVADOR–El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes on Saturday [Jan 16 2010] officially apologized as head of state for widespread rights violations carried out by government forces during the country’s 1980-1992 civil war.

Funes, speaking on the anniversary of the 1992 peace agreement that ended the war between leftist guerrillas and government forces, apologized for the "grave" human rights violations carried out by government forces against "defenseless civilians" in the Central American nation.

Funes, a member of the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) — a party that includes former guerrillas from the demobilized rebel group of the same name — was elected president in June 2009, ending decades of rule by right-wing parties.

"I acknowledge that agents, at the time belonging to government branches including the armed forces and public security … committed grave human rights violations and abuses of power," said Funes, speaking in an address to the nation.

Those abuses included massacres, extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances, Funes said.

"For all of the previously mentioned, in the name of the Salvadoran state I ask for forgiveness," Funes said.

Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a former guerrilla commander, earlier asked Salvadorans to forgive the former guerrillas for any excesses committed during the civil war.

The FMLN campaigned heavily on forgiveness during the 2009 presidential election.

Some 75,000 people died and more than 7,000 went missing in the civil war. The United Nations estimated losses of $1.6 billion.

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