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Reagan's reputation 30 years after the El Mozote massacre

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When you hear some Republican waxing lyrical about Reagan the fearless champion of democracy, tell them about the El Mozote massacre which took place 30 years ago today. 733 civilians were mudered in cold blood by an army unit trained and supported by the US government. The Reagan administration bears as much blame for the attrocity as the soldiers who comitted it.

El Mazote was only one of many massacres perpetrated during the civil war in El Salvador. It is the most well known because there was a survivor, Rufina Amaya, whose eyewitness account describes a massacre organized in the same manner of the NAZI holocaust massacres.

The men were separated from the women and taken for torture, interrogation and execution. Then the women were raped, then executed using machine guns. Finaly the children were murdered.

The death squad that carried out the massacre were units from the army's Atlacatl Battalion, a rapid reaction force trained in counter terrorism by the US. Reagan supported the Salvadorean government with arms and weapons, apparently indifferent to the numerous attrocities that the army was perpetrating.

The story broke in the Washington Post and New York Times on January 27 1982. Almost immediately the Reagan administration and the conservative press began a campaign to smear and discredit the accusers. The full range of Fox News techniques were used to supress discussion of the massacre and discredit those telling the truth about it.

Reagan had the power to act. The Salvadorean government was supported by weapons and supplies provided by the US. There would have been no need to supply the government if it had not already been on the brink of collapse.

El Mozote then is the true legacy of the 'great communicator'. He is not the hero who stood for freedom. He is the willing accomplice of a mini holocaust. He was the Pope Pius XII of the attrocities: he had the power to act but found it inconvenient to do so.

Ronald Reagan was an evil man and we should never forget that.

[typos fixed]

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