Él Regresa

Gibbs stepped out of the Zenith onto the cracked cement of El Ronco airfield.

A slender man in black BDUs and sunglasses climbed out of the Humvee idling a hundred feet away, his sidearm bumping as he walked over with arms outstretched.

“El Bergón!” he cried and he threw his arms around Gibbs. “Mi compañero. It’s been a long time. Let me look at you.”

Gibbs stared into the familiar face of  Roberto D’Aubuisson, the man he considered to be the savior of El Salvador. He grinned. “I enjoyed your obituary in the New York Times.

Roberto returned the smile. “A necessary fiction once your country turned its back on freedom.”

“It’s a new day, my friend. I have it on the highest authority we will be able to operate with no constraints whatsoever.”

“And the budget?”

“No constraints, my friend. Including financial.” He laughed.  “As I said, a new day.”

What Pegman Saw: El Salvador


Note:  In the 1980s,  El Salvador’s bloody civil war pitted leftist revolutionaries against the alliance of countries, oligarchs, and generals that had ruled the country for decades—with U.S. support—keeping peasants illiterate and impoverished. 

More than 75,000 Salvadorans were killed in the fighting, most of them victims of the military and its death squads. Peasants were shot en masse, often while trying to flee. Student and union leaders had their thumbs tied behind their backs before being shot in the head, their bodies left on roadsides as a warning to others.

A character in this vignette is based on a real person, Roberto D’Aubuisson, the infamous leader of the death squads who ordered the assassination of  Archbishop Óscar Romero. The real D’Buisson died in 1992, but with monsters such as he, one can never be sure.

After two decades of relative non-interference, the United States quietly began funding and equipping elite paramilitary police units in El Salvador accused of extrajudicially murdering suspected gang members.

Since George W Bush’s term in office, successive US administrations have provided tens of millions of dollars in aid for Salvadoran military and police in support of the government’s “Mano Dura” (“Firm Hand”) security program.



Add Yours
  1. Joy Pixley

    Even the euphemism “firm hand” makes me shiver. It’s hard for me to even imagine living under conditions like this — which makes it easy to imagine why so many people would risk so much for the hope of living where I do.

  2. pennygadd51

    A good story, exposing the iniquitous foreign policy of the western powers towards the world’s poorest. Even before George W Bush, though, US military aid was diverted into repression of the poor. Archbishop Oscar Romero – not exactly a left-wing firebrand – wrote to Jimmy Carter saying as much in February 1980.

Don't just stand there.