Archived: El Salvador: Assassin says US Financed Death Squad

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Rich Winkel

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Apr 6, 1995, 3:00:00 AM4/6/95
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``Ignacio Ellacuria and Martin-Baro are now dead...We will
continue killing Communists. We are the First Brigade''

--"Threat issued through a bullhorn from a car driving past the
offices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese [the day following the murder
of the Jesuits, cook, and her daughter]" --New York Times

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Blood Money -- Assassin says he slit throats while U.S. wrote checks
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[In These Times, Nov 15-21,'89;info on 1st Brigade dating to 11/1/89]
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Outraged by the October 31 bombing of a union
office that killed 10 people, Salvadoran labor leaders and the leftist
Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) immediately blamed
the armed forces and the right-wing government of President Alfredo
Cristiani.

Those allegations were bolstered the next day in Washington by a
Salvadoran army deserter who told journalists that the San Carlos army
barracks in San Salvador housed a special unit of military hit men.

Cesar Vielman Joya Martinez, 28, says he was a member of the First
Infantry Brigade's intelligence unit. He was initially in charge of
capturing suspected leftist subversives and gathering information from
informants. Later he was promoted to a special hit squad within the
intelligence unit that executed prisoners after they had been
interrogated. He says his job was to kill prisoners, mask the army's
involvement in the murders and then dispose of the bodies.

"My job was only to kill," he says, claiming that the murders were
conducted on the written order of the First Infantry Brigade
commander, Col. Francisco Elena Fuentes.

Joya Martinez says he participated in eight of the more than 70
death-squad executions that the First Brigade conducted during the
first seven months in 1989. He usually strangled his victims, slit
their throats, or injected them with poison. The hit squad was under
strict orders not to kill with fire-arms, because the bullets might be
traced back to the military.

`Have you rever seen the look on the face of someone as you cut their
throat?' he asks. `I know I cannot bring back the dead, but I can stop
[the death squads] from continuing to operate the same way.'

Joya Martinez claims he was forced to flee El Salvador after a failed
operation publicly linked the First Brigade to the death squads. His
superiors were, he says, setting him up to be the fall guy so they
could murder him and provide deniability for the bungled operation.

He also says the hit squad operated with the tacit support of two U.S.
military officers who helped finance the group's activities, and
worked in the intelligence unit's headquarters. He says the U.S.
officers helped finance the group's activities by writing checks for
its operating expenses.

Although the U.S. officers were briefed on the unit's activities, they
were not given reports on the executions, Joya Martinez says, adding
that the Americans appeared unwilling to know about the operations
they were funding.

`We provided them with copies of all the reports from our agents on
clandestine captures, interrogations, the results of interrogations,
other operations, but we did not provide them with reports on the
executions. They did not want to hear of the actual killings.'

According to Joya Martinez, when the death squad's civilian vehicles
began to draw attention inside the intelligence unit's restricted
compound, the U.S. officers agreed to rent a safe house for the
assassination unit. But, he adds, the U.S. advisors did not want to
know how it would be used. `I do not believe the American advisers
could not have known what we were doing,' he says. `They funded
everything we did.' [...]

[From In These Times, Nov. 15-21, p.4, by David Bates]

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Amnesty International report: So-called "death squads" actually run by
Salvadoran army/gov't; target civilians; students, human rights
workers, trade unionists, church members, etc.

--> [Use GET command (see top of this file for format) with ]
--> [AI_REPT ELSALV ; see also: JOYA MARTINEZ for a followup ]
[article; U.S. tries to deport Martinez back to El Salvador. ]

Other files of interest include:

GRNBERET TORTURE Two accounts of US 'aid' to El Salvador
DEATHSQD ES_US ES Death Squads: a pattern of US complicity
BEHIND DEATHSQD Behind The Death Squads in ES
HRCOMM ELSALV A. Cockburn on the Salv. Hum. Rights Commission
BRENDA HUBBARD police terrorize COMADRES(mthrs of pol prisoners)

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