Identified 13 former Salvadoran military officials involved in 1989 murder of Jesuits

Some of the Jesuits who were killed at the American University of El Salvador in 1989

The United States government has several tools available in instances of violations and abuses of human rights.  A law provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that current or former officials of foreign governments have been involved, directly or indirectly, in a gross violation of human rights or significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States. 

The applies only to current or former government officials.  It does not apply to the conduct of individuals who are not current or former government officials, although such individuals may be subject to other visa restrictions under U.S. law.

Extrajudicial killings

At the end of January the United States Department of State, designated 13 individuals under the said law.  This designation is due to their involvement in gross violations of human rights in El Salvador related to the planning and execution of the extrajudicial killings of six Jesuit priests and two others on November 16, 1989, on the campus of Central American University in El Salvador. 

The United States condemns all human rights abuses that took place on both sides of the brutal civil war in El Salvador, including those committed by governmental and non-governmental parties.

The Department has credible information that the following persons have been involved in gross violations of human rights: Juan Rafael Bustillo, Juan Orlando Zepeda, Inocente Orlando Montano Morales, Francisco Elena Fuentes, Guillermo Alfredo Benavides Moreno, Yusshy René Mendoza Vallecillos, José Ricardo Espinoza Guerra, Gonzalo Guevara Cerritos, Carlos Camilo Hernández Barahona, Oscar Mariano Amaya Grimaldi, Antonio Ramiro Avalos Vargas, Angel Pérez Vásquez, and José Alberto Sierra Ascencio.

Planning and execution

 These 13 former Salvadoran military personnel, ranging in rank from general to private, were involved in the planning and execution of the extrajudicial killings.

The United States supports the ongoing accountability, reconciliation, and peace efforts in El Salvador.  We value our ongoing working relationship with the Salvadoran Armed Forces but will continue to use all available tools and authorities, as appropriate, to address human rights violations and abuses around the world no matter when they occurred or who perpetrated them.  Today’s actions underscore our support for human rights and our commitment to promoting accountability for perpetrators and encouraging reconciliation and a just and lasting peace.