The Massacre at El Mozote

The Massacre at El Mozote

by Mark Danner


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In December 1981 soldiers of the Salvadoran Army's select, American-trained Atlacatl Battalion entered the village of El Mozote, where they murdered hundreds of men, women, and children, often by decapitation. Although reports of the massacre — and photographs of its victims — appeared in the United States, the Reagan administration quickly dismissed them as propaganda. In the end, El Mozote was forgotten. The war in El Salvador continued, with American funding.

When Mark Danner's reconstruction of these events first appeared in The New Yorker, it sent shock waves through the news media and the American foreign-policy establishment. Now Danner has expanded his report into a brilliant book, adding new material as well as sources. He has produced a masterpiece of scrupulous investigative journalism that is also a testament to the forgotten victims of a neglected theater of the cold war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679755258
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/1994
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 144,105
Product dimensions: 5.14(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.62(d)

About the Author

A former staff writer for the New Yorker, Mark Danner contributes frequently to the New York Review of Books and the New York Times Magazine. The recipient of a National Magazine Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, he teaches at Berkeley and Bard College.

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The Massacre at el Mozote 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
plappen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book looks at a forgotten bit of the Cold War in 1980s Central America. In December, 1981, a US-trained battalion of the army of El Salvador entered the town of El Mozote, and surrounding hamlets, and systematically murdered everyone; over 700 people were killed.In the 1970s and 1980s, the Salvadoran army was in bad shape. There were numerous examples of guerrillas joining the army to get some military training, then intentionally deserting to join the rebels. The army was poorly-trained and poorly-led, except the US-trained Atlacatl battalion. In late 1981, an army operation was planned in Morazan province (where El Mozote was located) to squeeze the rebels out of the area, once and for all.El Mozote, a town of evangelicals, barely tolerated the rebels. The townspeople were willing to sell corn or chickens to the rebels, but, when it came to joining the rebels, the people of El Mozote were not interested. When the rebels got word that the army was coming, they urged the people to head into the jungle until the army left. One of El Mozote's leading citizens said that he was assured, by the army, that the people were safe. The army was interested only in the rebels.That day, several helicopters full of Atlacatl soldiers landed at El Mozote. The soldiers went from house to house, dragging everyone into the town square, and forcing them to lay flat on the ground. After a couple of hours of interrogation, accompanied by kicks and rifle butts, regarding rebel membership among the townspeople, the men were taken to the local church, and women and children were taken to one of the houses. The men were taken out of the church, a few at a time, into the nearby jungle, where they were all shot or decapitated. After all the men were dead, the soldiers came for the women and children. The younger women were taken into the jungle and gang-raped, by the soldiers, before being murdered. The small children were thrown into the air, and impaled on bayonets. When it was over, everyone was dead.When word got out about what had happened, helped by front page stories in the Washington Post and New York Times, the reaction of the Salvadoran army and Reagan Administration was to dismiss the reports as nothing more than enemy propaganda. Congress was in the middle of debating further aid for the Salvadoran government, so the timing of the articles was hardly convenient for the Reagan Administration. A pair of officials from the US Embassy in San Salvador tried to go there to investigate, and got within a mile or two of El Mozote, before being turned back by the army (supposedly, guerrillas were in the area). They couldn't confirm reports of several hundred dead (the people from the area were hardly willing to talk), but it was pretty obvious to them that something huge had happened at El Mozote. The Reagan Administration used inconsistencies in the death toll, and the fact that it was first reported by Radio Venceremos, the rebel's radio station, as "proof" that it was not as bad as reported. The army said that there was a major gun battle with the rebels in El Mozote (untrue), so some townspeople got killed, but nowhere the reported number of several hundred. Was this massacre big enough to get the US Congress to reduce, or eliminate, funding for the Salvadoran military to continue their war against the people? No one in Washington wanted to "lose" El Salvador the same way that China was "lost" after World War II.This is a first rate piece of investigative journalism. It contains nearly 100 pages of US Government documents about what happened to El Mozote. This may seem like an "old" book, but to bring a forgotten bit of the Cold War back into the collective memory, it is very much recommended.
ivy7496 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Danner's writing quickly draws you in to the world of the oppressed, making it impossible not to empathize with them. As a journalist he knows how to get the facts to the reader - frequently providing us with both sides to the story - while also creating a fascinating tale. This book also serves to get the word out on an important event in U.S. and Central American history that didn't get much coverage at the time it happened.
jcvogan1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An accounting of a peasant massacre in El Salvador's civil war during the ealy 1980's.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
My parents survived, the massacre at EL MOZOTE, and i believe until this day those who committed and were involved in this, never were convicted. i want to say thanks to the writer of this book that have courage to write about and behalf of those who lost their lives that day