El Mozote

In the early 1990s the peace process in El Salvador was initiated and part of that required the investigation of some of the crimes and atrocities that occurred on both sides. The Argentine team had developed an international reputation and they were called to help in the investigation of one particular massacre that had shocked the world. The massacre at El Mozote occurred in 1981 when a very elite counter-insurgency battalion of the El Salvadoran army, which was US-trained and equipped, rounded up all of the people in five small villages that composed the hamlet that's called "El Mozote." And all the people with the exception of some survivors were executed. I think that they separated the adult men, the adult women and the children and they took all of the children and took them to a little stone house next to the church and herded them in there. Along towards evening, the soldiers came up to the casita and simply sprayed inside the doorway and one window—this shows the little place, these are meters, and you can see it's a very tiny place. These were children ranging from babes in arms up to 11 or 12. And here you see the commingled skeletal remains that had lain there for many years. And you can see what a technical challenge that the team members were faced with in trying to meticulously sort out these thousands of bones to make sure that we have a skeleton of each individual. In these communities, by returning their dead to them, they can see some actual justice, real justice, being done. That it helps them to heal and makes it less likely that their unhappiness will turn to hatred and vengeance.