Alfredo Cristiani ‘wanted’ concerning 1989 massacre

A court in El Salvador on 11 March 2022 ordered the arrest of former president Alfredo Cristiani concerning the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests witnessed by Consuela in A Candle for Consuela.

Alfredo Cristiani Burkard is a Salvadoran politician who served as the President of El Salvador from 1989 to 1994. He was a member of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party.

Prosecutors allege that Cristiani knew of the military’s plan to eliminate the priests and did nothing to stop them.

He has left El Salvador and whist there were rumours he was in Italy it seems he is living in the Unites States. The US does not have an extradition treaty with El Salvador.

Prosecutors in El Salvador have accused former President Cristiani, who governed the Central American country between 1989 and 1994, of first failing to stop, then helping to cover up the murder by soldiers of the priests, their housekeeper and her daughter at the campus of the Central American University in the early hours of November 16, 1989.

Prosecutors stated that they have evidence that former President Alfredo Cristiani was present at a meeting that approved the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests and two others by soldiers of the Atlacatl Battalion.

The victims were the Spanish Ignacio Ellacuría, Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Amando Lopez, and Juan Ramon Moreno; also, Salvadoran Joaquin Lopez, Elba (a UCA worker) and her 16-year-old daughter, Celina Ramos.

“We have witnesses who tell us that President Cristiani was present at the General Staff meeting and was informed of what the military had agreed upon, that is, the operation that consisted, first of all, of the raid on the UCA facilities.” – Salvadoran Prosecutor.

“The whereabouts of ex-president Cristiani are unknown. The former President is one the most influential people in the right-wing political party ARENA. It must be remembered that the former president has been a fugitive from Salvadoran justice for the crime of murder for approximately one year due to his participation in the death of the Jesuit priests and two 2 more employees.” – Attorney General Rodolfo Delgado.

Cristiani has denied the allegations, calling them “baseless” and “politically motivated.” He has said that he will fight the charges in court.

Alfredo Cristiani, nicknamed “Fredy,” was a member of one of El Salvador’s wealthiest families, whose interests included extensive holdings in coffee, cotton, sugar, and pharmaceuticals. Born in San Salvador on November 22, 1947, he enjoyed a privileged childhood. After attending the American School in the Salvadoran capital, Cristiani studied in the United States and graduated in business administration from Georgetown University. As a youth, he excelled at squash, basketball and athletics before moving on to more expensive pursuits, such as motorcycling and aviation. Employed mostly in family enterprises before he became active in politics in the 1980s, Cristiani became known as a spokesperson for business interests. He believed strongly that economic development and social welfare were best left to the private sector.

Cristiani was elected president on June 1 1989 while El Salvador was in the midst of the civil war.

In 2018, Salvadorian prosecutors alleged that Cristiani misappropriated $4.3 million in public funds during his last few months in office. Cristiani said that his government had used the money, drawn from a secret fund “for the negotiation of the peace accords.” In July 2021, during a legislative inquiry, Cristiani denied that he had benefited from the funds. Several members of the Salvadoran legislature requested that prosecutors investigate Cristiani, but the statute of limitations had expired for any charges that might have resulted.

In September 2020, a Spanish court convicted former Salvadoran colonel Inocente Orlando Montano Morales for his participation in the murder of the five Spanish Jesuits. He was sentenced to more than 133 years in prison for planning and ordering the killing of the priests. He had been El Salvador’s vice-minister for public security during the civil war.

The Spanish court said the massacre was “state terrorism carried out by powerful interests, including Cristiani”, who wanted to maintain their positions of privilege within the power structures.”

Sources: / The Guardian / Interviews