Portraits of Amatitán
By Carlo Acenas, in partnership with the USC Caruso Center
In 1980, violent civil war erupted in El Salvador between the military government and rebel groups. When the military assassinated human rights activist Óscar Romero, rebel organization Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) vowed to end the "oligarchy of the rich." However, the government had a strong ally in the United States, which sent economic and military support. Government forces combed the country with a direct order to kill, and to leave no witnesses.
In 1982, the soldiers reached the tiny village of Amatitán, where they killed over 200 civilians—men, women, and children.
The few that survived fled, with little time to plan or prepare. It was not until a decade later, after the conclusion of the civil war, that Salvadorans returned to the village, to begin rebuilding their homes and burying the bodies.
30 years after the massacre, Amatitán has a new generation facing new challenges as it rebuilds. Today, Amatitán stands more than 200 Salvadorans strong.