The Last Days of Argentina’s “Dirty War”

On December 22, 1981, the last military dictators took power in Argentina’s Dirty War against its own citizens, as General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri Castelli assumed the Presidency.  Galtieri attended classes at the infamous US Army School of the Americas in 1949, when the School operated in the Panama Canal Zone, and spent six months studying with the US military at Fort Belvoir, Virginia in 1960. During the Dirty War, one of the death squad battalions reported directly to him.  Galtieri thought that the US would continue to support him, but in 1982 he seriously miscalculated his invasion of the Falkland Islands, as the US sided with the British.  As the domestic war ended, the civilian Argentine government and human rights activists made numerous attempts to prosecute him.  Galtieri was finally indicted in 1999.

El Mozote Massacre 1981

The screams of terror and the flow of tears continued throughout the day and night as the people of El Mozote, El Salvador, were massacred by the battalion known as the “Angels of Hell”.  The villagers were raped, tortured, bayoneted and shot at point blank range.  When the last of their blood had soaked into the earth and the last of the dead stared open eyed at the sky, over 800 civilian men, women, and children had been brutally murdered. The massacre occurred during the El Salvadoran Civil War, when much Central America was embroiled in conflict, often with US intervention. The “Angels of Hell” of the Salvadoran Atlacatl Battalion were trained at the US Army School of the Americas, which was then operating in Panama.  In 1992, formal exhumations of the bodies began, and a United Nations-sponsored Truth Commission uncovered the horrifying sequence of events.