By Linda Cooper and James Hodge, from NCR

President Obama’s visit to the gravesite of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero Tuesday has been described as “one of the most symbolic stops” and “the most dramatic gesture” of his five-day Latin American trip.

Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, who lit candles with Obama at the tomb inside the San Salvador Cathedral, praised his American counterpart for honoring Romero, whose public denunciations of the Salvadoran military resulted in his assassination on March 24, 1980.

The mainstream U.S. media almost universally characterized the visit as a tribute to the prelate, while current Salvadoran Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar, who accompanied Obama at the request of the U.S. Embassy, called it “a global event,” not a political stunt.

But for Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the visit was at best a missed opportunity. His organization, SOA Watch, revealed that Romero’s killers were trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas, now named the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).

“I and many other human rights activists were hopeful,” he said, that Obama would acknowledge “that Romero and thousands of others were killed, tortured and disappeared by graduates of this school.”

2 thoughts on “LATIN AMERICA: Obama at Romero’s grave is a “missed opportunity”

  1. March 23, 2011
    Hudson Reporter
    President Obama has just visited El Salvador where he paid homage to the bravery of Archbishop Oscar Romero, famous for supporting the cause of the indigenous population during the terrible civil war in the eighties. In his last regular Sunday sermon broadcast throughout the country, Archbishop Romero implored the soldiers to lay down their arms and stop killing their countrymen. Days later, on March 24, 1980 he was murdered while celebrating mass. This atrocity was committed by Salvadorian military trained in the School of the Americas, SOA, now euphemistically called WHINSEC the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security and Cooperation and more truthfully called School of Assassins, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. To our shame this facility is still in operation. President Obama must acknowledge the U.S.’s roll in this tragedy and close this facility.

    James T. Dette
    22 Duer Place
    Weehawken, NJ 07086

  2. I am pleased that one of our President’s actions showed his respect and reverence for this saintly man, Archbishop Romero. Let’s continue our mission to close this facility-maybe by reaching out for President Obama’s assistance?

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