Today should have been an easy day to die without notice, considering the geopolitical enormity of the killing of Osama Bin Laden. But the obituaries report the death of another notorious figure:
From the LA Times:
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.
Amnesty laws passed in the aftermath of the Salvadoran war (and vigorously supported by Ponce) meant that neither he nor any other senior Salvadoran official was ever brought to justice for the murders. The U.N. Truth Commission report that determined that Ponce had ordered the murders of Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin Baro, Juan Ramon Moreno, Amando Lopez, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, Elba Ramos, Celina Ramos, and Ignacio Ellacuria can be found here.