During the first FMLN government in El Salvador (2009-2014) the military invited the appointed governor of the Department of Morazán to participate in a memorial for a former colonel, at the site dedicated to his death. At first sight this may not warrant special attention, as it is not unusual for government officials to honor the fallen heroes of their country,  but in this case it pushed the bounds of normalcy. The FMLN, the political party that emerged in postwar El Salvador after the demobilization of the guerilla armed forces, had just been elected for the first time into power and the appointed governor of Morazán was no other than Miguel Ventura, a former left leaning priest activist, proponent of liberation theology and active supporter of the guerilla. During the war he was captured and tortured by military forces, because of his activism in organizing peasants to demand social justice. The memorial that he was invited to on the other hand, was held for Col. Domingo Monterossa, a former trainee of the school of the Americas (Gill 2004). As head of the Atlacatl special forces he was directly responsible for several civilian massacres, including the most infamous one at el El Mozote, where on Dec. 11th, 1981 his soldiers killed over 1000 civilians, including elderly and infants as part of scorched earth tactic against the guerilla forces (Danner 1993; Binford, 2016; Gould 2006). Monterossa died in 1984 when the guerilla force planted a bomb in a radio transmitter in the town center of Joateca (Dept. Morazán). Having profiled Monterossa, who had an addicted to war trophies, the rebels left the transmitter, in what looked like a skirmish, behind for him to pick it up. He did, and as his helicopter departed for the military quarters in San Miguel the bomb exploded taking his life and that of other high ranking military officers (Henriquez Consalvi, 2012). This incident became memorialized, and it is this very memorial that the governor of Morazán, Miguel Ventura had been invited to.

Despite ample proof against Monterossa, and the forced dismantling of the Atlacatl special forces, as part of the peace accords, the military headquarters in San Miguel (the biggest city in Eastern El Salvador) still carries his name and the aviation museum in San Salvador dedicates an entire room to him. Yet nowhere is a mentioning of the massacres to be found. Instead, following his death, the mayor of Joateca (Dept. Morazan) had a memorial dedicated to him, with high ranking military, visiting the memorial to pay tribute to this “fallen war hero.”