In December 1981, in the midst of the Salvadoran civil war, one of the army's notorious combat battalions, the Atlacatl, killed approximately 1,000 unarmed civilians over the span of two days in and around the hamlet of El Mozote, in northeastern El Salvador. What sets El Mozote apart is not the scale of the atrocity—although it probably is the largest of many such massacres committed by the Salvadoran army—but rather how publicized it was at the time, how effectively the Salvadoran government and the Reagan administration covered it up, and then how it has become, since the war's end, once again a highly publicized and well-known event. The work of journalist Mark Danner, inspired largely by the exhumations performed by an Argentine forensic team in November 1992, reinvigorated the story for international audiences. Soon thereafter, in 1996, the anthropologist Leigh Binford produced...

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