The Faces of the Murderers of Salvadoran Poet Roque Dalton

Jorge Dalton*

Roque Dalton

HAVANA TIMES — On May 14, my father, the poet Roque Dalton, was born in El Salvador. He was to become one of the great voices of 20th-century Latin American literature.

The murder of Roque Dalton is one of many cases that illustrate the sort of impunity that exists and will continue to exist in El Salvador for many years to come, as in the cases of the massacre of the Jesuit priests, the murder of Monsignor Romero and thousands of others that have not yet come to light or been set right. Both the Left and the Right have connived to keep the truth hidden.

With respect to my father’s case, two consecutive left-wing (FMLN) administrations – first our cowardly and cynical ex-president Mauricio Funes, then our current government, headed by Salvador Sanchez Ceren – have opted to do nothing and to continue to help conceal the facts and prevent the truth from coming to light.

I believe the FMLN Party has joined, or, better, has long been part of the “pact of silence” surrounding my father’s murderers. To add insult to injury, their government repulsively an shamelessly harbors a man like Jorge Melendez, former “JONAS” commander and ex-member of the FMLN, one of the confessed murderers of my father, who perpetrated the crime next to Joaquin Villalobos. They are directly responsible for the murder of poet Roque Dalton, worker Armando Arteaga and many other Salvadorians, gunned down on orders from these two criminal minds.

Jorge Melendez, one of the murderers of poet Roque Dalton, next to the former leader of the first Salvadorian left-wing party, Mauricio Funes.

A few years ago, my brother, the renowned Cuban novelist Eliseo Alberto Diego (popularly known as “Lichi”), wrote the following about the case:

“The coup de grace was aimed directly at Roque Dalton’s forehead, that afternoon at the court of blood-thirsty guerrillas that sentenced him to be executed by young men who, not knowing how to read, had learned his verses by memory.”

Jorge Melendez, one of the murderers of poet Roque Dalton, next to the current president of El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren.

“The slim body of the great Salvadorian poet was buried somewhere in the jungle, under two inches of wet soil. His murderers now acknowledge this was a mistake, that they did not have more time to bury him in the depths of the planet.”

“Wretched are the guerillas who did not die in combat, for the mischievous ghost of Roque Dalton will haunt them to the end of days, until they are withered old men, scorned by their children. Like my father said of those who killed Federico Garcia Lorca: may God forgive them. I can’t.”

Joaquin Villalobos, former FMLN leader and the person most directly responsible for the murder of poet Roque Dalton, next to former Mexican President Raul Salinas de Gortari.

My family has no choice but to continue searching for the truth and for justice. Faced with our government’s refusal to clarify any of the facts, we have taken steps at the international level, before institutions such as the Inter-American Human Rights Court, and we are going to approach other entities, even Pope Francisco himself, if needed.

Here are the faces of those who murdered poet Roque Dalton, for you to help us divulge that they continue to live with impunity, the same way as many former military officers who served the dictatorships that brought death and tragedy to Latin America. They belong to the same species, speak the same language and act in the same fashion. They are part of the impunity afforded many criminals in this world.

(*) Cuban-Salvadoran filmmaker

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