‘Of Memory and Testimony - The Importance of Paying Tribute to Those Who Were Emancipatory’ Address by President Higgins
La Universidad Centroamericana, San Salvador, El Salvador, 24th October 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am profoundly moved to be present here today at the Universidad Centroamericana. It means so much to me and to my wife Sabina to have the opportunity of remembering and bearing witness to those who died and suffered in El Salvador during the years 1980 to 1991 as they stood up for the defence of human rights. Theirs was a struggle for greater social justice that included emancipation from poverty, access to land, and the basic means of livelihood for the poorest Salvadorans.
This is my third visit to El Salvador. When I first came to your country, in January 1982, the atmosphere was very different from the one which now happily offers such opportunity and hope. El Salvador was then a place where people were being tortured, raped, killed and disappeared everyday; a place where countless others were being displaced and forced to become refugees. Families were broken up. The country’s social fabric was being torn apart as a result of the widespread violence exerted by the state on the insurgent forces and the non-combatant population alike, but also because of the social harm caused by the reckless impunity which accompanied that violence.
Indeed it was under the protection of state bodies, but outside the law, that crimes of the gravest sort were being committed daily. Opposition political leaders, trade unionists, churchmen, human rights activists, educators, cooperative leaders and beneficiaries of the agrarian reform – that is, all those who were perceived and defined as ‘subversives’ by certain elements of the privileged establishment and their supporters within the government and army – became the target of systematic acts of terror.
In an effort to deprive the guerillas of their means of survival, entire communities too were destroyed by members of the armed forces and their paramilitary adjuncts during their counter-insurgency operations. This was notably the case in rural areas, where violence was indiscriminate in the extreme.
Violence breeds violence, and human rights were also being violated by members of the guerrilla forces, particularly through the forcible recruitment of combatants, hostage-taking and the murder of mayors, government officials, judges, and those designated as traitors or ‘orejas’ [informers]. 5% of the complaints registered in the early 1990s by the UN ‘Commission for the Truth in El Salvador’ thus concern the FMLN.
With the end of the war and the signature of the Chapultetec Peace Agreement, on 16th January 1992, Salvadorans embarked on the difficult task of confronting the causes and results of such devastating violence, as well as – to quote the words of the UN Truth Commission – “the issue of the widespread, institutionalized impunity which had struck at its very heart.”
So let me express my admiration for the Salvadoran people, for the courage they have shown throughout the terrible ordeal of the conflict, for the outstanding spirit which they have generously demonstrated in the peace process, and for the ways in which they are now tackling the memory of the dark times.
Memory, indeed, constitutes one of the greatest sources of interrogation bequeathed to us by the twentieth century, with its cortege of mass crimes and fateful experimentations with totalitarianism. How and what are we to remember? How are individual and collective memory articulated? What must never become the subject of amoral amnesia? In what ways does the ‘duty of memory’ summon us to do justice to the dead? To what extent are we to allow ourselves to be changed as we listen to the narrative of the other? What is the relationship between memory and history?
These are first order moral questions. They are central to the work of important thinkers such as Maurice Halbwachs, Hannah Arendt, or Paul Ricoeur – work that I find myself returning to again and again as I attempt an answer to such questions, not only in the case of El Salvador but in so many spaces of conflict, including Northern Ireland.
According to Argentine human rights activist, Juan E. Méndez, while it is the case that each society coming out of a war attempts to confront its past in the way it deems most appropriate to its specific situation, the role of ‘truth’ in building durable peace must be recognised; its pursuit is essential. As he puts it:
“the question of how to address a legacy of human rights violations occupies a central place in most transition processes to democracy because it says something of the quality of the nascent regime.”
It is therefore encouraging to acknowledge, in the wider Latin American region, the important cathartic role played by institutions such as the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago de Chile, or the Space for Memory and the Promotion of Human Rights in Buenos Aires, which I had the privilege to visit last year. The creation of such spaces allows those who experienced abuse of human rights and direct personal loss during an armed conflict, to tell their stories and to see the histories of their loved ones reinserted into the communal memory.
The ongoing struggle against impunity is an important one. That struggle is not only endorsed by dedicated institutions, but it is also, we must never forget, made possible by the courage of so many remarkable individuals, who continue to battle against the obscuring of the past, who seek to salvage from the grim oblivion of death and torture the spirit of their loved ones who have been murdered or ‘disappeared.’
Last year in Chile, I met with Joan Turner Jara, the widow of the great singer and songwriter Victor Jara, who was tortured and executed in the early days of the Chilean military dictatorship. In Argentina I was privileged to be asked to speak in remembrance of Patrick Rice, an Irishman and human rights advocate who, as a young priest in the 1970s, had been imprisoned and tortured under the military junta, and who went on to be the driving force behind the UN ‘International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.’
I met Fatima Cabrera, who was seventeen when she was kidnapped, tortured in a cell adjacent to Patrick’s and held for three years in prison, and who, years later, became Patrick’s wife. She was accompanied by one of their daughters. Talking with these women, I could sense the determination that animates the families and friends of those who have suffered at the hands of an iniquitous regime, and their commitment to the cause of human rights everywhere.
Similarly, here, in El Salvador, it is heartening to see the positive role played by institutions such as the Centro Monseñor Romero, hosted by this university, dedicated as it is, not only to sustaining the memory of Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero and numerous others whose lives were cut short by violence, but also – through its pastoral activities – to nurturing the values of social change, and a spirit of hope in the Salvadoran people.
In a context where it is currently difficult for families to access information about the fate of their loved ones, the work performed by this University’s Instituto de Derechos Humanos (IDHUCA), which, for the past few years, has conducted a restorative justice tribunal, is a most valuable one. And so is the project ‘History, Memory and Justice in El Salvador,’ launched in 2011, which has seen the IDHUCA coming together with students and faculty of the University of Washington’s Centre for Human Rights who are working on declassified documents from the CIA, and various US Government Departments, such as the Department of Defense and the Department of State, in order to seek justice for the victims of the Salvadoran war.
I also find deeply inspiring the ongoing project of creating a definitive register of those who died. I am pleased to note that Ireland’s development assistance programme contributes, in some small but highly meaningful way, to this work of remembering through the support granted to the Sisters of Chigwell’s work with the survivors and their families in El Mozote.
‘Why care?’ – some could be tempted to ask; ‘it is a thirty years old conflict.’ But for those who have lost a loved one, it does not matter how many years have passed. The questions and pain are always present, for there is no greater object of sorrow, nothing more upsetting than a human life not being allowed to bloom to its full potential.
The naming of each and every one of those who died or was made to ‘disappear’ is of the utmost importance. This is something I personally feel strongly about, and it is why I opened one of my poems from the 1980s, entitled ‘Memory’, with a line from French philosopher Paul Ricoeur, which simply said that “to be forgotten is to die twice.”
Only through the restoration of the integrity of individual histories, through the work of memory, and through open narratives can solid foundations for a shared, peaceful future take shape. Thus to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of our own peace process in Ireland, marked by the endorsement through referendum, in 1998, of the Good Friday Agreement by the people of both parts of the island, we organised – last April in Dublin – a reading of the names of all those who died in the conflict. It was a very moving ceremony.
The act of naming summons up the person’s singularity. The calling of the name is an antidote against reification. It is a means to rebut the reduction of a loved one, neighbour, or fellow citizen, to the heartless, indifferent category of the ‘subversive,’ the ‘enemy’, and to refuse the subsuming of the loss in the all-encompassing denomination of ‘the war’, ‘the conflict.’
I look forward to visiting, tomorrow, the Memorial to Memory and Truth in Cuscatlan Park, where – thanks to the dedication of the Committee of the Mothers of the Disappeared and Assassinated of El Salvador – the names of 30,000 of those who died in the recent war are inscribed. Among the thousands of names engraved on that wall is that of Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who, in his death as in the later years of his life, found his place among the people of El Salvador.
Of course it is impossible to consider the Salvadoran collective memory without reflecting on the place which Monsignor Romero occupies in it, and it is worthwhile to evoke here the remarkable trajectory of this extraordinary man.
In the chapter they dedicate to him in their book entitled Cultural Memory, Jeanette Rodriguez and Ted Fortier explain how, at the same time as Romero began his Episcopal leadership, the Salvadoran Jesuits “underwent a conversion that led them to publicly side with the poor.” By 1973, the Jesuits had implemented their ‘preferential option for the poor’ by enrolling students from the poorest areas into the Universidad Centroamericana, and developing – in El Salvador as in other Latin American countries – ‘Christian base communities,’ in which people were enabled to discuss the realities of their lives in light of the scriptures, and the various means at their disposal to address the injustices that surrounded them.
Archbishop Romero may have, at the outset, criticised the Jesuits’ “political theology,” as he tried to maintain a ‘neutrality’ in the face of the conflict that was tearing apart El Salvador. Of course such silence and privileged friendship with those in power could be construed as political statements in themselves. According to Fortier and Rodriguez, it was Romero’s friendship with Father Rutilio Grande, a Jesuit priest who was openly in favour of a radical land reform, which “planted the seeds of his later conversion.”
On the 12th March 1977, a few short weeks after Romero had been installed as Archbishop of San Salvador – a safe choice in the eyes of the Salvadoran establishment –, his friend Rutilio Grande was murdered, along with a young boy and an elderly farmer. 100,000 people attended Grande’s funeral, which, according to the same authors, constituted a “church demonstration unprecedented in Salvadoran history.” The sermon that Archbishop Romero preached on that day, in which he defended Grande’s liberating work, his solidarity with the poor and his pleas for justice, stunned everybody.
As Fortier and Rodriguez put it, ever after that funeral mass, “Romero dined with the poor, spoke out against institutional violence and encouraged people to reform their social structures in light of the Gospel.” According to them, the crucial element in the way Romero is remembered by the Salvadorans is that “he is viewed as one who walked with the people, not one who changed the people’s direction.” He was “el Obispo que anda con los pobres.”
Monsignor Romero’s commitment not only as a witness but also as a bearer of a vision of an emancipatory ‘realidad,’ is reflected in the words of an address which he gave at the Catholic University of Louvain, in 1980:
“As in other places in Latin America, after many years and perhaps centuries, the words of Exodus have resounded in our ears: So indeed the cry of the Israelites reached me, and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them. By recognizing that these realities exist and then letting their impact reach us, we have been returned to the world of the poor, and have found it to be our rightful place … In this world we have found the real faces of the poor of which Puebla speaks. There we found peasants without land or steady work, without water or electricity in their poor dwellings, without medical assistance when the women give birth, and without schools when the children begin to grow. There we found workers with no labor rights, workers at the mercy of the economy’s cold calculations. There we found mothers and wives of the ‘disappeared’ and political prisoners. There we met the people who live in hovels where misery exceeds the imagination, a permanent insult of the nearby mansions.”
By using such words, by the example he was giving, the hope he was enabling, Óscar Romero became dangerous for the Salvadoran establishment, because he called into question the entire system of oppression, and the process by which – in his words:
“wealth is made a god, private property is absolutized …, [and] national security is made the highest good by the political powers who institutionalize the insecurity of the individual”.
He denounced what he labeled a “structure of sin” in his country:
“It is sinful,” he said, “because it produces fruits of sin: the death of Salvadorans – the rapid death of repression or the slow death (but no less real) of structural oppression.”
On the 23rd March 1980, at the end of his radio homily, Romero addressed the ordinary soldiers of the army themselves. This episode is related by one of the Irish witnesses of those dark times in Latin America, Luke Waldron, in his book A Dawn Unforeseen. Journey from the West of Ireland to the Barrios of Peru:
“Brothers,” Romero began, “you are from the same people, you kill your fellow peasants … No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God.”
Then his voice grew louder:
“In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people, I ask you, I beg you, I command you, in the name of God, to stop the repression.”
The next day the Archbishop was shot dead by a sniper as he celebrated mass in the Chapel of the Hospital de la Divina Providencia. During the funeral, a bomb went off outside the Cathedral and the panic-stricken mourners were machine-gunned, leaving an estimated 30 to 40 people dead and several hundred wounded.
Monsignor Óscar Romero’s life and death has been an inspiration to a generation of advocates of human rights and social justice all over the world. It is in his name and on the anniversary of his death, on 24th March, that the United Nations now host the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. Just as importantly, the Archbishop’s figure is regularly conjured up in the dances, songs, poems, and theatre performances of the Salvadoran people, and on the murals and posters that cover the walls of their cities. The strength of his words continues to galvanise their faith, and to crystallise their aspirations for a more just society.
Thus Óscar Romero has become an illuminating icon not only for the Church but for the oppressed of the world and those in solidarity with them. We, in Ireland, can recognise these moments as founding events in what would become a widespread interest in, and support for, human rights by the Irish people.
If I may, I would now like to share with you my own brief reflection on my connection with these events that affected your country in the 1980s. What is one to make of one’s involvement with another people’s struggle? This is an issue with which I have engaged f0r some years – a specific problem in relation to historical memory, an interrogation as to what is the appropriate role of the witness, and what is the role of the testimony in the complex passage from experience, to memory, to history.
I wrote in 1991 that, if one has witnessed the bodies of the assassinated, the mutilations, the inscriptions of death and torture, as I have, then not only must the gaze not be averted but the life of the observer must be allowed to change. An obligatory commitment to discourse is called into being.
Through my engagement with the Central American peasant struggles of the 1970s and 1980s, confronted as I found myself to be with the example of Trócaire and other NGOs, of the Irish missionaries, and of Bishop Eamon Casey – who gave evidence not only to us in Ireland, but also to the American bishops – I felt encouraged, compelled even, to testify and bear witness to these violations of human rights by reporting on them and by doing my best to raise my fellow citizens’ awareness of what was going on in Central America and elsewhere.
Many of you in this room are firsthand witnesses, and perhaps even some of you are the survivors of the events to which I make reference. My conviction is that your testimonies constitute “the fundamental transition structure between memory and history.” As Paul Ricoeur put it, your testimonies are where the making of history begins. They matter greatly. I quote Ricoeur:
“We must not forget that everything starts, not from the archives, but from testimony, and that, whatever may be our lack of confidence in principle in such testimony, we have nothing better than testimony, in the final analysis, to assure ourselves that something did happen in the past, which someone attests having witnessed in person.”
Thus, although the historiographical operation is thoroughly interpretative, it is still possible to speak of the truthfulness of the historian’s account. And this operation has its point of departure in testimony, which lies at the root of every historical archive and documentary proof.
“Indeed,” wrote Ricoeur, “it is the force of testimony that presents itself at the very heart of the documentary proof. And I do not see that we can go beyond the witness’s triple declaration: (1) ‘I was there;’ (2) ‘believe me;’ (3) ‘if you don’t believe me, ask someone else.’ Ought we to make fun of the naive realism of testimony? It can be done.” But “we have nothing better than testimony and the critique of testimony to give credibility to the historian’s representation of the past.”
That being said, and all the caveats in place, I would like to recall for you just some of the names of the people I met in El Salvador in the early 1980s, and the circumstances through which I became acquainted with them. I do so as a means of paying tribute to these men and women who maintained hope during dark times. Doing so will also allow me to evoke the longstanding bonds of friendship and solidarity between Ireland and El Salvador.
My first encounter with El Salvador and its people occurred in October 1978, when I met Marianella García Villas. As the President of the Human Rights Commission of El Salvador and the first woman elected to the Salvadoran Parliament, Marianella visited Ireland at the invitation of the Irish NGO Trócaire and met members of the Irish Parliament to discuss the intensifying war in her country and related human rights violations.
I met Marianella again in January 1982, in Mexico city, where she was then living in exile following two arrests by the Salvadoran army. Marianella visited Ireland on a second occasion in 1982, when she was elected vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights. This was a year before her torture and death at the hands of the Salvadoran armed forces in March 1983.
Around the same time as I had met Marianella, I was contacted by a group of Irish Franciscan priests who were based in the city of Gotera in the Salvadoran department of Morazán – an area that suffered tremendously during the war. These priests provided extensive evidence of major human rights violations in their area and also the first information regarding the role of the then US military establishment in arming and training Salvadoran soldiers located in the nearby parishes. In mid-1979 the families of two of these Franciscans, along with staff from Trócaire, set up the ‘Irish El Salvador Support Committee,’ with whom I maintained close contact for over two decades. This contact with the Franciscans was to prove crucial in relation to the 1981 Mozote massacre, to which I will refer later.
In September 1980 I was contacted by Jean Donovan – an American lay missionary who was working in La Libertad in El Salvador. In 1977, Jean had studied for a year in the University of Cork in Ireland, and she was aware from the media of the position I had taken on El Salvador. During our 1980 meeting she described the killings in her area and the number of community leaders assassinated by the infamous ‘death squads,’ who were causing such devastation to the Salvadoran population, inculcating such fear.
Three weeks later Jean Donovan returned to her community. On 2nd December 1980, together with an Ursuline sister named Dorothy Kazel, she drove to the airport in San Salvador to meet two Maryknoll sisters – Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, who were returning from Managua. The four women were last seen alive driving from the airport down the main road and were stopped by the National Police at a roadblock. Two days later, their bodies were discovered in a makeshift grave about fifteen miles away. Jean was twenty-seven years old.
In 1982, I had the privilege to give the keynote address at the Irish launch of the film “Roses in December” documenting Jean’s life and death.
On 26th December 1981, shortly after I had organised an inter-parliamentary hearing on El Salvador in Ireland, I got a telephone call from Salvador Samayoa, a former Minister of Education and Professor of Philosophy at the UCA, who was acting at that time as a member of the political commission of the FMLN. Samayoa described a massacre which had taken place on 11th December in the community of El Mozote, Morazán, leaving several hundred people dead. On 10th December, units of the Atlacatl Battalion had detained all the population in the village. Having locked them up in their homes overnight, the following day they deliberately and systematically executed in groups, first the men, then the women, and, lastly, the children. Salvador Samayoa asked me to try and bring a parliamentary delegation from Ireland to investigate these horrific killings.
Our delegation spent three days in Mexico, where we met with Marianella García Villas and other exiles, before travelling to San Salvador. On arrival at the airport in El Salvador, we were arrested, questioned and deported to Nicaragua on the basis of an exclusion order signed by General García, the Minister of Defence. This expulsion got great publicity in Central America and in Ireland, and four days later President José Napoleón Duarte issued a press release saying that it was a “misunderstanding” and granting us the right to travel freely within El Salvador to assess for ourselves the human rights situation there. We returned a week after our ‘mistaken exclusion.’
The Archdiocese of San Salvador and the Jesuits having offered to provide security for us, we travelled to the war zones in Morazán, Chalatenango and Cabañas, and met with survivors of rural massacres, human rights activists, Members of Parliament, the head of the armed forces, priests and Irish missionaries, notably the Gotera Franciscans and the Poor Clare sisters, who were also working in the Morazán department. We did not manage to get to Mozote, as the road was blocked by the armed forces. But we did meet with Rufina Amaya, one of the few survivors from the massacre, whose husband and four children had been murdered in Mozote.
Upon our return to San Salvador, I was interviewed by Raymond Bonner of the New York Times and Alma Guillermoprieto of the Washington Post, who subsequently visited the area, and whose reports shook international public opinion at the end of January 1982. Irish missionaries had managed to obtain photographs of the murder site, and our delegation was able to take this evidence back to Ireland.
Back home, we set to the task of challenging official reports that were denying that a mass execution had taken place in El Mozote. A conscious, internationally-led campaign to refute our testimonies got under way and attempts were made to rebut the evidence.
Yet years later, and despite these campaigns of denial, the UN Truth Commission found that the Mozote survivors’ accounts were “fully corroborated by the results of the 1992 exhumation of the remains.” And in December 2012 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH) found the Salvadoran State to be responsible for the deliberate and targeted killings of over 800 people, over half of whom were children, and stated that “the killings in and around El Mozote were part of a ‘systematic plan of repression’ by the military during the civil war.”
I was thus, as you can understand, extremely pleased to hear about President Funes’s historic apology on behalf of the Salvadoran state, in January 2012, in which he referred to El Mozote as the worst massacre of civilians in contemporary Latin American history. This was a truly significant moment in the journey towards truth, and it is something all Salvadorans can be very proud of, as can they be of the protection of the village as a Cultural Heritage site, with its deeply poignant monument to the dead and its Garden of the Innocents, where the names of all the children are inscribed. These are moral gestures of immense significance.
I would like, finally, to evoke the memory of the six Jesuits who were brutally murdered on this campus on 16th November 1989 – namely Ignacio ELLACURÍA, Rector of the UCA and an internationally known philosopher and theologian; Segundo MONTES, head of the university’s Sociology Department and Human Rights Institute; Ignacio MARTÍN-BARÓ, a pioneering social psychologist; Juan Ramón MORENO PARDO and Armando LÓPEZ, theology professors; and Joaquín LÓPEZ Y LÓPEZ, founder of the Fe y Alegría network of schools for the poor. Julia Elba RAMOS, a cook and the wife of a caretaker at the UCA, and their sixteen year old daughter, Celina RAMOS, were also killed to ensure that there would be no witnesses.
I had met Ignacio Ellacuría, and Segundo Montes in January 1982 in San Salvador, together with another of their colleagues, Jon SOBRINO, also one of Central America’s best known theologians. The UCA’s monthly reports and statistics on the war were at that time widely recognized as the most credible source of independent information.
The Jesuits had close links with Ireland; they valued deeply Irish support for peace in their country. Father Ellacuría had undertaken his Tertianship in Ireland, and Armando López had studied theology in Miltown Park in Dublin. Both were passionately interested in Irish affairs and had attracted Irish Jesuits to work in El Salvador.
In 1984 and 1986 Ignacio Ellacuría and Jon Sobrino visited Ireland and gave us a detailed account of the human rights and political situation in El Salvador.
I am deeply honoured, today, as President of Ireland, to pay tribute to these six men, their cook and her daughter. I am touched to see how they are so vividly remembered in this University, where they lived and died, and where the Jesuits worked for a more equal and just society. Indeed the UCA Jesuits will be remembered, not only for their tragic deaths, but also and foremost for their deeply felt and passionately argued philosophy which contributed so much to the development of new paradigms for Latin America’s poor.
In doing so, I assure you, they were always at risk. I recall the remarks of a high ranking, but ill-informed, foreign observer who was based in San Salvador in 1981 and who, jabbing at a map in front of us, said:
“With the Jesuits, it begins with literacy, then it’s co-operatives, but we all know it all ends up with Marxism!”
Let me share with you the wiser and more humane words of a poet:
“Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained”
These are the words of my friend, the recently deceased Irish poet and Literature Nobel Prize Laureate, Seamus Heaney. Indeed the long account I have given, of people whose lives were ended in the most brutal manner, would be dispiriting if we did not also acknowledge the transformational power that these lives have had for all of us. The emancipatory promise encapsulated in the lives of the UCA’s Jesuit martyrs, in that of Marianella García, of Jean Donovan, and of so many others who bore the torch of hope at the darkest of times – that emancipatory promise is available, will remain available, for us as an instrument for our present and future.
Today, when we speak of human rights, we must do so in the fullest sense, paying attention not just to the crucial concepts of civil and political rights, of that most fundamental right to life and liberty, but also to the economic, social and cultural rights – in essence, to the right to human flourishing.
As Pope Francis put it in his letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of the G8 meeting convened last June 2013 in Northern Ireland:
“Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one’s own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless.”
Pope Francis is speaking a similar emancipatory language to those who gave their lives for a new reality and of those who continue in solidarity with it.
In Ireland too, despite our recent economic difficulties, the Irish people continue, both to make generous individual contributions to the development NGOs who support the work of communities in Central America, and to strongly endorse the continuance of Ireland’s overseas aid programme.
Working with Salvadoran partners, organizations such as Christian Aid and Trócaire are helping people to find alternative, viable ways of making a living, while also fostering reforestation and other projects which are important for the future. I was delighted to learn that University College Cork and La UCA are to become partners in an important project – AMIDILA – which encourages and supports the mobility of students and scholars between Europe and Latin America, with a special focus on Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. We very much look forward to receiving our first cohort of Salvadoran students at University College Cork.
Let me, to conclude, state once more how happy I am to be back to El Salvador, where peace is being made and sustained; where memory is recognised as a tool for the living and as a sure base for the future.