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.”