The Madeleine Brand Show for March 22, 2011

Obama visit to El Salvador recalls a troubled history

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Picture of a banner with a portrait of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero taken at La Divina Providencia Chapel in San Salvador on March 21, 2011. San Salvador's Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero was murder by a death squad on March 24, 1981 when he was given a mass at the this chapel. US President Barack Obama is to visit the tomb of Romero at the Metropolitan Cathedral during his visit to El Salvador on Tuesday and Wednesday on the final leg of his three-nation Latin America tour. The US president began the trip in Brazil, and is currently in Chile.

Back in the 1980s, El Salvador was embroiled in a bloody civil war. The superpowers got involved, using El Salvador as a proxy to fight the Cold War, with the Soviets supporting the Marxist rebels and the U.S. under President Reagan supporting the conservative government. Now President Obama is visiting the country and will meet with Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes.

He'll also visit the grave of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was allegedly assassinated by right-wing paramilitary forces armed and trained by the U.S.

President Funes also has roots in the leftist rebel movement of a generation ago. We speak to Cynthia Arnson, who heads the Latin America program at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington and Salvadar Sanabria who founded the legal aid group El Rescate in Los Angeles.

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