COCA Recalls Killings; 75 Attend Widener Vigil

One year after the Salvadoran military allegedly killed six Jesuit priests and two private citizens, 75 people gathered on the steps of Widener Library last night to commemorate the massacre.

The vigil, sponsored by the Harvard Committee on Central America (COCA), was staged against a back-drop of eight white crosses, each representing one of the massacre victims. Earlier, COCA planted the crosses in the grass near Widener and wrote in chalk "74,000 dead in El Salvador" on the pavement in front of the steps.

Vigil participants held candles while the COCA speakers expressed their opinions on the Salvadoran situation and asked those gathered to spread awareness on the issue.

John E. Schrag '92, who began speaking at about 7:30 p.m., called one of the victims, Ignacio Ellacuria, "the international voice--the hope for a peaceful solution" to the El Salvadoran war.

"Who ordered the assasination?" he asked.

Organizer Katherine J. Plummer '91 spoke about the relationship between "us in the U.S. and the community in El Salvador. We are forming a community of sorts."

Plummer and other speakers said that Congress had, after 10 years of protest, approved a 50 percent cut in military aid to El Salvador. But President Bush can still veto that bill, Plummer said.

At the end of the vigil Schrag asked participants to blow out their candles and then began chanting "El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido," which in English means "the people united will never be defeated."

In the coming months, COCA hopes to start an education program and branch out to other Central American countries, Plummer said.

"This raises peoples' consciousness. They want to know more. That's the opening," she said.

"Harvard is part of the liberal establishment. When Harvard says stop aid to El Salvador, people in Washington hear that. Students participate in a broader movement. We're not isolated," said John G. Donaghy '90-'91.