THE O.J. SIMPSON MURDER TRIAL : Still Spotlighted : Lopez, Hounded by Media, Holds Press Conference


If solitude is what Rosa Lopez sought, she came to the wrong place.

Time and again during her testimony in the trial of former American football star O.J. Simpson, the Salvadoran housekeeper said she longed to escape the media madness of Los Angeles for the refuge of her native El Salvador.

On Tuesday, she found herself meeting with journalists for about the fifth time since her arrival home a day earlier. And this time, despite her professed hatred of the press, she invited them, calling a press conference in her hometown of Sensuntepeque.

“I testified to what I saw,” she told a knot of reporters on the patio of a relative’s residence in the eastern Salvadoran town, answering the same questions over and over and defending her often-rocky court appearance.


Although Lopez had said last week that she wanted to get away, El Salvador’s many connections with Los Angeles are well established. Even though the Simpson trial has been a non-event here, Lopez’s arrival this week was covered by a battery of television, radio and print reporters whipping up a frenzy smaller than, but not unlike, the one she faced in Los Angeles.

Most, of course, were feeding a U.S. maw. Although there was some coverage for local consumption, much of the journalistic pack has been responding to Los Angeles television networks and other U.S.-based media that hired reporters here to follow Lopez’s steps.

And follow her they did. Reporters staked out the Salvadoran international airport throughout the weekend, then on Monday traveled two hours to Sensuntepeque, where they mobbed Lopez outside her home. Then they followed her in a convoy as she fled to a farm deep in the Salvadoran countryside.

“Get away from my house!” she yelled in English at one set of reporters Monday. “I’m coming here tired of the courts. I’m coming here tired of so much injustice. Don’t bother me. I don’t want to see you.”

That was followed by a curse uttered in Spanish, a reference to the reporters’ mothers.

But at Tuesday’s press conference Lopez seemed calmer. In contrast to her disheveled appearance on Monday, she was dressed Tuesday in a neat pastel floral dress, her hair tied in an orange band, and she was wearing lipstick and earrings.

“I have worked with much honor, I have cleaned bathrooms, I have cleaned houses . . . but always with honor, and the few cents I have cost me much sweat and many tears,” she said.


One Salvadoran newspaper reported Tuesday that private investigators have begun making inquiries at local banks to detect any transfer of money to Lopez. Such conjecture infuriates the 57-year-old woman.

“I didn’t get a single penny,” she said curtly.

Although as many as half a million Salvadorans left their country for Southern California during the last decade and a half of civil war and economic hardship, for most Salvadorans the interest in Lopez is nothing more than an oddity. The trial has been virtually ignored here. Simpson is not a well-known figure in El Salvador, where few follow American football. And only a wealthy minority of Salvadorans have access to the cable television channels that might bring live coverage of the courtroom proceedings.

In her various, grudging chats with the press, Lopez has talked about her dead son, a Salvadoran Air Force serviceman killed during the civil war, and her decision to immigrate to the United States 26 years ago to better the lives of her children.

In response to a reporter’s question about whether she was a victim of racism in the United States, Lopez said: “You go there and try it. They don’t like us there; they discriminate against us in everything.”

Asked about her plans, she replied: “To eat and sleep.”