U.S. Allegedly Funded Salvador Death Squads

From Times Wire Services

U.S. military advisers in El Salvador knew of political assassinations carried out by a Salvadoran army unit and helped bankroll the death squad activity, a former Salvadoran army commando was quoted as saying Thursday.

In an interview on the CBS Evening News, the former commando, identified as Cesar Vielman Joya Martinez, said he and others in his unit--the intelligence section of the army’s 1st Brigade--acted under orders as a clandestine death squad as recently as three months ago.

Joya Martinez added that the death sentences he helped carry out were passed down by his commanders and that he reported back up through the chain of command.


He was quoted as saying that two U.S. military advisers attached to the unit were aware of the assassinations but that details of the killings were deliberately left out in reports to them.

He also claimed that the U.S. advisers supplied money to his unit that helped maintain two civilian vehicles used for death-squad operations and a safehouse that served as a secret base of operations.

Joya Martinez has fled El Salvador and is now seeking asylum in the United States, CBS said.

It quoted Col. Francisco Elena Fuentes, commander of the 1st Brigade, as calling Joya Martinez an “assassin, a deserter and a thief” who had acted strictly on his own.

William Walker, the U.S. ambassador in El Salvador, denied in a separate CBS interview that American advisers knew of any assassinations.

The Pentagon, in a statement issued Thursday, called claims of U.S. complicity in death-squad activity “patently absurd.”


“We know of no instances in which U.S. military personnel have been even remotely associated with such morally repugnant activities,” the statement said.