WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
14 Nov 2014 | News

U.S. Institutions Donate $134,000 for Programs at the University of Central America in El Salvador

Press Release

San Salvador, El Salvador—On November 15, 2014, members of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) and the John Joseph Moakley Charitable Foundation will present gifts totaling $134,000 in support of programs at the University of Central America (Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas,” UCA)

The gifts will be presented the day before the 25th anniversary of the murder of 6 Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter by members of the Salvadoran military during El Salvador’s civil war. The six Jesuit priests included the rector of the UCA and members of the UCA faculty. Salvadoran military leaders ordered their killings during a rebel offensive in San Salvador, fearing their support for a negotiated settlement between the government and the leftist guerrilla coalition, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional, FMLN).

“Since the tragic events of November 16, 1989, Jesuit colleges and universities have engaged in service and outreach to our Salvadoran brothers and sisters at the UCA,” said Father Michael Sheeran, S.J., President of the AJCU. “We are pleased to continue in this tradition by providing financial support to academic programs at the UCA that will help so many students to become future leaders grounded in faith, service and justice.” The AJCU’s 28 member colleges and universities donated $34,000 in general support to the UCA, and delegations from most of the institutions will be in San Salvador this weekend to take part in commemoration ceremonies to honor the memory of the six UCA Jesuits.

Following the tragic murder of the Jesuits, the U.S. Congress formed a commission to investigate the case. The Commission was headed by the late Congressman Joe Moakley from Massachusetts and coordinated by Moakley staffer James McGovern. Congressman Moakley was one of Congress’ strongest critics of U.S. military aid to El Salvador and was a major proponent of the 1992 Peace Accords that ended the 12-year civil war. McGovern is today a Member of Congress himself and is attending the 25th anniversary events along with the ACJU, the Moakley Foundation, and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). The Moakley Commission found that the Jesuit murders had been ordered by high-level officials in the Salvadoran military. The $100,000 gift from the Moakley Foundation will set up exchange programs between the UCA and Suffolk University in Massachusetts to help train the next generation of Salvadoran civic leaders.

“Congressman Moakley was deeply committed to the people of El Salvador,” said Bill Shaevel, a member of the board of the Moakley Foundation. “This gift will ensure that his dream of fostering peace and social justice in El Salvador lives on.”

The Moakley Foundation’s gift to the UCA was arranged with the assistance of WOLA, a human rights organization that has followed the situation in El Salvador for decades. “These gifts commemorate Joe Moakley and the vision of the Salvadoran Jesuits. They also reflect a commitment to the future of El Salvador,” said Geoff Thale, WOLA’s Program Director. “Today, El Salvador faces challenges in providing jobs and hope for its young people, in controlling crime and insecurity, and in making its criminal justice system work, not only for the victims of past abuses, but for citizens today. These gifts will help support the leaders of tomorrow who can help address those challenges and move El Salvador toward the vision of justice and peace that both Joe Moakley and the Jesuits envisioned.”

Representatives from the UCA, the AJCU, and the Moakley Foundation will discuss the gifts and the 25th anniversary events at a press conference on Saturday, November 15 at 1:30 p.m. in room ICAS-11 at the UCA.

Ana Sorrentino
WOLA Program Officer
[email protected]