Once again it is the anniversary of the deaths of 6 professors, their housekeeper and her child at the University of Central America in El Salvador This year the protest is at the border ( U.S./Mexico) and Women priests will be well represented I mourn my absence-and take solace in sharing this story
Reflections of a Mourner
November 23, 2014
Today I am Rufina Amaya. This 25th anniversary of the death of 6 professors and their housekeeper and her daughter is being commemorated at the School of Americas at Ft. Benning, Ga. Early today a young girl from India painted my face in mourning, white, white, so the red of the tears cascading down my cheeks would show the deepest sorrow. It was a sharing of who she and I were in this moment in time, in a pageant that would soon unfold. A black shroud covers my body. It matches the black shroud covering the coffins carried before us in this long procession of remembrance. Presente! We cry out - “You are with us today”. This act of faith, this act of defiance against the Powers that allow the ongoing training of Latin American military who then return to their country and commit some of the worst crimes against their own people echoes in the hills that surround the School of Americas.
Today I am Rufina. Some ten years ago I stood in the village of El Mozote before the crude adobe brick memorial naming those who once lived in this peaceful village. Rufina, this brave woman was the sole survivor of this village massacre on December 11 and 12, 1981.
She recounts for us, a delegation of Witness for Peace, her story.”Mama, they’re killing me. They’ve killed my sister. They’re gong to kill me,,” cried her 9 year old son Cristino and her daughters Maria Delores, Maria, Lilian, Maria Isabel ages 5, 3, and the 8 months old baby were also to die this day.
Rufina was returning to the village on this tragic day and heard the screams of many of the villagers - identifying, as only a mother could, those of her children. She watched in horror as her parents, sisters, brothers, husband, and children were herded into the schoolhouse, the building then riddled with bullets and set afire. This after the rape of the women witnessed by their loved ones. Her husband Domingo who dared to protest was decapitated as she watched in horror!
She distanced herself from the scene, overcome with grief, knowing any effort by her would be futile, she dug a hole in the ground and put her face in and sobbed - this by her own account as we stood in this village of El Mozote and wept with her
Today I am Rufina as I walk in the echoing hills in procession, seeing others overcome by sorrow as they place their crosses on the gates of this notorious enclosure! Today we are all victims of a government that refuses to acknowledge its role in these massacres
and in so many others.
Rufina’s testimony of these attacks, reported shortly after by two American journalists, was called into question by the U.S. and Salvadorian governments. It was not until the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador in November 1992 when the bodies buried at the site were exhumed and the commission’s published conclusion proved Amaya’s testimony had ‘accurately represented the events.”
Today I am Rufina Amaya as thousands stand before the gates of Ft. Benning, challenging our governments disbelief of the crimes committed by graduates of this notorious school.
Today I weep, I mourn, and I honor the memory of this courageous woman Rufina Amaya, sole survivor of the El Mozote massacre, who spoke truth to power!
Rita Lucey, wife, mother, grandmother is an 80 year old activist, a member of Amnesty International, ACLU, Pax Christi, and the United Nations Association. In 1998 Rita was sentenced to six months in Federal Prison for protesting at the School of Americas, aka Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSC) She will be ordained a Roman Catholic woman priest (arcwp.org)January 2015 in Orlando, Fl.