In the next couple of weeks Salvadoran groups in Southern California plan to commemorate the assassination 30 years ago of Oscar Romero, that country’s Roman Catholic archbishop. His death marked the beginning of a bloody civil war that led to the emigration of hundreds of thousands of refugees to the United States.
A gunman shot and killed Romero in a hospital chapel a day after Romero delivered a dramatic sermon against human rights abuses by El Salvador’s dictatorship.
That country’s consul general in Los Angeles, Walter Duran, hosted as several groups announced their plans to commemorate Romero’s death.
"His message of social justice, attention to the poor, the government's trying to spread that message in the various work it does," Duran said.
That’s a stark contrast to the position of the previous party in power.
For nearly two decades after a 1992 peace treaty, the right leaning government refused to commemorate Romero’s death, in large part because Romero had become a martyr of Marxist rebels.
Salvadoran immigrant activists in L.A. say that reiterating Romero’s message could go a long way toward connecting Salvadorans with their home culture – and, along the way, better integrating them into U.S. society.