Arts & Entertainment

Art work in El Salvador commemorates anniversary of Romero assassination

San Salvador, Mar 21 (EFE).- A work of art being exhibited at a public square in this capital commemorates the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, an outspoken critic of El Salvador’s then-military regime who was shot and killed by a right-wing death squad while celebrating Mass.

The piece now under construction – a representation of a red Volkswagen Passat sedan, the model of vehicle used in the March 24, 1980, attack – is made out of red thread and wood and is currently on display at San Salvador’s Francisco Morazan Plaza.

“We’ve recovered the aspect of the car … the automobile in which the assassins arrived to kill Monsignor (Romero), because I think it’s a vehicle that transmits something to us,” the artist, Jose David Herrera, told Efe.

“This vehicle remains a phantom car, which is what we want now to recreate … to simulate that this car is still moving about on the highway of our history,” he said.

“There’s a totally fictitious possibility, yet one that exists among the (current population of) 6 million Salvadorans, that someone may know where that car is,” the artist said.

Titled “Rojo” (Red), the piece is a collective art project that consists of running thread around a wooden, car-shaped frame to create a 3-D representation of the body of a Volkswagen Passat.

Herrera said the idea behind this art work – part of the Spanish Cultural Center in El Salvador’s “Memoria” (Memory) program – “is for people to put (something), even just a single thread … to know that they’re doing and contributing a little bit.”

The work will be finalized on March 24 at Francisco Morazan Plaza and then a closing ceremony will be held at that same site. The piece will later be transferred to the main entrance of the San Salvador Cathedral, which houses Romero’s tomb.

A 1993 UN Truth Commission Report on El Salvador found that a professional assassin fired a single .22-caliber bullet that struck Romero in the heart while he was celebrating Mass inside a chapel of the church-run Divine Providence Hospital in San Salvador.

Romero, who served as San Salvador’s archbishop from 1977 until his death at age 62 and earned the enmity of the right with his outspoken defense of the poor and criticism of human rights violations, was killed at the start of El Salvador’s 1980-1992 civil war.

That report determined that army Maj. Roberto D’Aubuisson (1943-1992), co-founder of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party and its 1984 presidential candidate, had given the order to assassinate Romero, who was canonized as a Catholic saint in 2018.

It also found that Alvaro Saravia, the lone defendant in the latest round of criminal proceedings and the subject of an arrest warrant; Capt. Eduardo Avila; Fernando Sagrera; and Mario Molina were involved in planning and perpetrating the assassination.

A court in San Salvador ordered the reopening of that murder case in May 2017 and in October 2018 instructed the country’s Attorney General’s Office to conduct a new investigation.

That probe, however, has thus far led to no progress in bringing the material and intellectual authors of the crime to justice. EFE


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