On Mark Danner's "The Massacre at El Mozote"

Essay by fleazUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, December 2004

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In December of 1981, an event transpired which would go down in history as not only one of the biggest massacres in El Salvador's history, but in that of the rest of Latin America as well. In the tiny hamlet of El Mozote--snuggled deep in the northern Morazan region known as the 'red zone'--over 500 of the town's neutral and unsuspecting inhabitants found themselves at the mercy of the ruthless, poorly focused, and American trained/funded Atlacatl Battalion. Though for the most part, the facts surrounding the events wouldn't become available to most of the world until quite some time later, there still remains the question; why?

In The Massacre at El Mozote, Mark Danner does a wonderful job of transcribing the events of (and that lead to) that fateful day. In the midst of a civil war and at the approaching peak of American military funding, government forces waged a war on insurgent forces, lead by the renowned Colonel Monterrosa. Yet while a countless number of people were massacred in the sake of this operations progress, there still remains a bigger picture to address. The fact that reports of the massacre had largely gone ignored or discredited points to a much more serious problem in US foreign policy. To dismiss or discredit the flow of reports coming from the El Mozote region is a primary example of how US based priorities took a seat over the promotion of basic human rights abroad. This is one of the primary issues which Danner wishes to contend with in his work. In the height of the Cold War, why was more justified to deter a supposed communist victory instead of suspending military aid to El Salvador (in light of the allegations)? This issue also transcends time to find itself being of...