The National Catholic Review

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:

Rene Emilio Ponce, blamed for slaying of priests, dies at 64

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.

Comments

david power | 5/3/2011 - 6:50pm
Oscar Romero  
 is the figure that hovers over all of this.He was spiritually directed by the Jesuits but had a great affiniation with Opus Dei.
The years that passed from his death to those  of the Jesuits is remarkable.Once the Jesuits lost favour with the Vatican they were easy targets. I am confused by it all.At the beginning I thought that the Jesuits were merely Marxists with a collar but as time goes by I have seen a greater depth to them.
Either way ,history will judge them with greater truth and God with absolute truth.
    If it had been communists sqeezing th trigger we would already have new martyrs.
The Jesuits and the nuns who died here all deserve a great book. One that shows the depth of their experience and one that is critical. Why is it that we make so many films for a beatified who died in his bed but none for those who died in the vinyard of the Lord??    
Bill Collier | 5/3/2011 - 3:09pm
Read the Truth Commission report, and the extensive fact-based, impartial reporting on the premeditated murders, and it will then be clear that it was preposterous for Ponce to have said that "the Jesuits were victims of circumstances." They were non-combatants in the civil war, and they and the two women were dragged out in the middle of the night and gunned down in cold blood. Ponce was trying to salve his conscience. That may have worked with some in El Salvador, but he can't hide from the truth and its consequences any longer.  
ed gleason | 5/3/2011 - 2:07pm
" That's another way of saying that they were caught in the crossfire.'
The cross fire BS was also used by Alexander Haig about the killing of the 4 American religious women killed in ES too. e.g. Evidence that GOP talking points have a half life of a hundred years.