No one escapes
At “In All Things,” the America magazine blog, Jim Keane notes the passing this week of another notorious figure:
Reporting from San Salvador and Mexico City— Rene Emilio Ponce, the once-powerful army general blamed for one of the most egregious atrocities in El Salvador’s civil war, the killing of six Roman Catholic priests, has died. He was 64.
Ponce died Monday at the Military Hospital in San Salvador, the capital, after being admitted last week in critical condition with heart trouble, El Salvador’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Ponce served as defense minister and army chief of staff in the last half of the Cold War-era conflict that ended in 1992, becoming one of the U.S.-backed government’s most important military strategists.
A United Nations truth commission after the war determined that Ponce had ordered the assassination of the country’s leading Jesuit priest, Ignacio Ellacuria, rector of the Jesuit-run University of Central America. Ellacuria, suspected by the army of supporting leftist guerrillas, was slain on Nov. 16, 1989, along with five other priests, their housekeeper and her teenage daughter because the orders instructed that no witnesses be left behind, the commission said.
The LA Times obit notes that “For most of the bitter, 12-year war, in which more than 75,000 people were killed in Central America’s smallest country, Ponce enjoyed the support of the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations even though — declassified diplomatic cables later revealed — U.S. officials were aware of his abysmal human rights record.”
This too, should not be passed over in silence.