“His to ry ” by Er ic Av ery VireitWriirnaliffaitirMSIVEgilMgeanlirt i r 111111111111111111triiii1iiiiiIRONINIIIIIIIIIII1 SIOrr:41.1 11111111111.111111111111111eiiiiiiiiiiikiiiinalirillail \(i n 11111111111 infillik\\p 111111111111111/1112111111111g211011116=11111111111111?:411111111111111 111111.11111111101111 finial. amiligPoiaa saw le, , ,..1 w ouimila -=’. ,,, r `4, arol -riiir: a aura -loan , .,,..’, ;,,ga,’4;_”” ,—-1 v, iga alalt 4114″ Dallas THE SMALL dark woman in the severe black dress, flat shoes and white lace kerchief didn’t look much like a terrorist. She was barely taller than the podium at which she stood, talking about the night the men came to rape her, beat her husband, and attack her 12-year-old daughter, “biting her all over her body like mad dogs.” But Alicia de Garcia and her fellow members of the Committee of Mothers and Relatives of Political Prisoners, Disappeared and Murdered in El Salvador are truly terrifying people. They inspired so much terror in the U.S. Department of State that four of them were denied visas to the United States after they had been invited to accept the first Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in Washington, D.C. Speaking in Dallas, Dec. 12, de Garcia said only she was able to get a visa because she lives in exile in Mexico and was at a conference in Argentina when she was asked to accept the $30,000 award. The story told by the 42-year-old nurse may explain why thousands of Salvadoran refugees have flocked here and to other Texas cities, where most live and work illegally. Volunteers who work with Salvadoran refugees here say her story is not unusual: “Each of us has a very personal reason for being a member of the Committee of Mothers,” de Garcia said. “In 1978 they took my 14-year-old son. I was able to get my son freed alive, but there are many mothers who have no idea what happened to their children. “In .1980, my oldest daughter was captured. She disappeared for eight days and she came back alive, but they had pulled out her fingernails and her toenails and had broken her teeth. In 1981, my two brothers, aged 17 and 19, were disappeared [an active verb in Latin America]. One was killed and we still don’t know what happened to the other one. I also was a victim of torture, Former Observer staffer Mary Lenz writes for the Dallas Times-Herald. 6 JANUARY 11, 1985 wounds and violation. On October 9, 1981, 20 men came to my house from the Death Squad.” That was the night Alicia de Garcia was raped in front of her children. The rifle butt shoved inside her caused so much internal damage she is in danger of losing a kidney, according to Father Patrick Rice, executive secretary of the Latin American Federation of Families of the Detained and Disappeared, who accompanied her to Dallas. “We were saddened that the State Department decreed those women were a threat to the national security of the United States,” said Father Rice. But, he added, victims of violence “are a threat to any nation in the world which thinks it can solve its problem through bullets and through bombs.” “I want you to understand,” de Garcia said, “that this is what the men of [right-wing leader] Roberto D’Aubuisson do. This is not an isolated incident. It happens to many families and in the end they are usually machinegunned. All segments of our society students, teachers, the Christian community, doctors have been victims of repression, assassination and disappearance.” De Garcia finds it ironic that members of the Committee of Mothers were denied visas, while D’Aubuisson, believed by many people to be an active Death Squad leader, was welcomed to the United States in early December. She said one of the women was probably denied a visa because she had torture scars to prove what she said was true. Meanwhile, publicity in El Salvador over the State Department allegations has put their lives in danger. “We have been concerned about that all along,” said Sue Vogelsinger, a spokesperson for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in Washington, D.C. “The State Department has chosen to make public allegations they seem to be unable to prove. I would certainly think that might encourage whomever [to think] that the women should perhaps be done away with.” Vogelsinger said the State Department has presented no evidence to back their claims that the women are terrorists. “They are what they claim to be, a group of women who had been working for the cause of human rights in that country,” she said. De Garcia said representatives of the 500 member Committee of Mothers gather each week on the steps of San Salvador’s main Cathedral to read the latest list of victims of the violence, which has claimed 49,000 lives in the past five years. They distribute food to families of victims and try to care for orphans.’ The Committee was founded in 1977 under the guidance of Archbishop Oscar Romero, assassinated in 1981. It sides neither with the left nor the right. But Alicia de Garcia says that U.S. military aid to the Salvadoran government is only making the situation worse. Since the election of President Jose Napoleon Duarte, “it is said that there is a change. I would say there is a change in the way people are being killed,” De Garcia said. “Before, when people were taken away, it was by men in military uniform. Now it’s being done by Death Squads in civilian clothes.” Salvadoran Violence Terrorism and Motherhood By Mary Lenz
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