El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele appealed to national security on Thursday to say he will not allow a judge to search military files for evidence related to the killing of nearly 1,000 people in 1981, in defiance of a Supreme Court decision.
The judge of San Francisco Gotera (northeast) Jorge Guzmán has failed on four occasions in his attempt to access the files in four military barracks to search for documents related to the El Mozote massacre, the worst that occurred in the country during the civil war ( 1980-1992).
“Look, gentlemen, there [in military barracks] there are no El Mozote papers, and you will wonder why we are not letting them in, because they are military bases with secret, sensitive military documents,” the president assured in a press conference.
Bukele, who is also the general commander of the Armed Forces, insisted that if the judge has not been allowed access to the files, it is because “there are no” documents related to the massacre at the military bases.
The president also considered Guzmán’s attempts to enter the military installations as “a show” despite the fact that he has not been allowed access.
“One of two, or they want to do the show, or they want to expose the Armed Forces and neither of the two things I am going to allow,” said Bukele.
The judge has yet to try to access the files in two other military barracks in the eastern part of the country, but it is foreseeable from the president’s words that he will not be allowed to enter them either.
The judge was blocked despite the fact that the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court declared inadmissible an appeal by the Ministry of Defense to stop the inspections in the military archives.
The court determined that “it is not noticed” how the exhibition of files related to the massacre puts the security of the State at risk, as argued by the Defense Ministry.
Between December 10 and 13, 1981, soldiers from the now outlawed Atlacatl Army Battalion executed 986 people, including 558 children, in El Mozote and adjacent communities on suspicion of collaborating with the then leftist guerrilla.