Inocente Orlando Montano faces sentencing for immigration fraud. The Salvadoran immigrant has been exposed as a former colonel of the Salvadoran army who was among a group of army commanders who ordered the execution of six priests in 1989.
In November 1989, guerrillas took over large parts of San Salvador. Under cover of fighting, six Jesuits, their cook and her daughter, were killed by the army. The six were professors at the country’s best university. The cover-up of the killing by the Salvadoran government and the U.S. Embassy led to a collapse of support for U.S. aid to El Salvador’s military.
The US attorney charged that:
Throughout the civil war, Montano held positions of authority within El Salvador’s Armed Forces. While a colonel in El Salvador’s Armed Forces, Montano served, from on or about June 1, 1989, until on or about March 2, 1992, in the military government as the Vice-Minister for Public Security.
…In 1993, the United Nations Commission on the Truth for El Salvador published a report entitled “From Madness to Hope: The 12 Year War in El Salvador” (“U.N. Truth Commission Report”). The U.N. Truth Commission Report found that there was substantial evidence that Montano colluded with other Salvadoran military officers to issue an order to murder a particular Jesuit priest at San Salvador’s Central American University and to leave no witnesses. As described in the U.N. Truth Commission Report, the consequence of that order was the murder, on November 15, 1989, of six Jesuit priests, an employee of the priests, and the employee’s daughter. The Report further found that there was evidence that Montano and others took steps to conceal the truth regarding said murders.
Montano’s defense has been that he was just carrying out the policies of the Reagan and Bush administrations. A similar argument has been used recently and unsuccessfully by other Salvadoran ex-military men.
Authorities say Montano lied on immigration forms by claiming he didn’t have military training while applying for temporary protected status as a foreign national. Montano spent 30 years as an elite member of the El Salvador Armed Forces. He has already pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston to three counts of immigration fraud and three counts of perjury.
The United States was a haven for Latin American war criminals who did the dirty work of our Cold War campaigns. At a time when our country was deporting genuine refugees, we were allowing priest-killers to live here unmolested. Now that they are old men they are finally paying a price.