That weekend, Klaus met with García, Vides, and Marta in the living room of his home in the posh Bay Point neighborhood of Miami and Klaus explained the basis of the case. He's still not sure if the generals ever really understood. "They seemed dismayed the whole time," he said. Klaus told the men he would bill at his regular rate, $250 an hour. "I figured it's really just a tort case. It's not that complicated."

"I felt as if the tombs of all the dead were opening up and the victims were shouting, 'Justice!' "

On June 24, 2002, one day before García's 79th birthday, the torture suit began in West Palm Beach. Over the next four weeks a team of witnesses and experts, including Ambassador White, testified about the strict command structure of the Salvadoran armed forces and the civilian massacres overseen by García and Vides. The three plaintiffs spent hours describing the gruesome torture they experienced, often bringing the courtroom to tears.

During their testimonies, García, rarely lifting his head, wrote constantly in a small notebook. Vides sat silent and ­stonefaced. Klaus argued the generals were ­defending democracy and simply lacked control over rogue murderers — the same strategy he had used successfully in the churchwomen's suit two years earlier.

General José García (middle), shown on a military helicopter in the 1980s, was El Salvador's minister of defense from 1979 to '83.
© Harry Mattison
General José García (middle), shown on a military helicopter in the 1980s, was El Salvador's minister of defense from 1979 to '83.
Harry Mattison, a Time magazine photographer who now teaches in Maryland, took these photos during the Salvadoran Civil War.
© Harry Mattison
Harry Mattison, a Time magazine photographer who now teaches in Maryland, took these photos during the Salvadoran Civil War.

Klaus maintains the plaintiffs "dramatized" and "embellished" their testimonies. " 'I'm a victim. I'm a victim,' " he said mockingly. "The case was about one thing: money."

On July 23, Judge Daniel Hurley read the jury's decision: García and Vides, as commanders, were indeed liable for the tortures and for the murder of González's baby. The damages: $54.6 million.

"I felt as if the tombs of all the dead were opening up and the victims were shouting, 'Justice!' " says González, now working with women's rights groups in El Salvador.

After the verdict, García approached the plaintiffs to offer his hand. "This hand you have to offer to the people of El Salvador," González told him. "You have to tell the people you were the one responsible for the massacres, for the tortures, for the disappearances."

In 2004, after reports that as many as 1,000 foreign human rights violators were living in the United States, Congress passed an immigration reform measure known as "No Safe Haven." The aim was twofold: to identify human rights abusers — the perpetrators of genocide, extrajudicial killings, torture — before they entered national borders, and also to identify and expel the foreign violators already here. By 2007, the initiative had led to the deportation orders of dozens of human rights criminals, many former Nazis, like Osyp Firischak, a Chicago resident whose Ukrainian police unit had exterminated thousands of Jews in Poland. But the U.S. government had never used the law to go after top foreign commanders, such as García and Vides, who had presided over abuses but weren't accused of actually spilling blood.

At the 2007 hearing, Marcy Forman, a seemingly nervous Homeland Security representative, was on the stand when Senator Durbin, his previously friendly tone now tough, noted that García and Vides had already been found liable for Romagoza's torture.

"Why has the department... not sought to remove these human rights abusers from our country?" he pressed.

Forman stumbled. "I would have to get back to you and get you an answer on that question," she replied.

"I hope you will."

"I will."

Six years later, in February 2013, García had an appointment at a Miami immigration court. A year earlier, Vides had been ordered deported, and García's trial wasn't going well either. Prosecution experts had rattled off a litany of human rights abuses that had occurred under García's watch, and when he took the stand, he finally admitted the obvious: Yes, as minister of defense, he had in fact known about the abuses. "When I say I knew it," García said, "it was public knowledge that cannot be denied."

But the next day, García resolutely maintained he'd had no power to stop the abuse. Michael Horn, a judge with 30 years of experience, pressed him: "You were the minister of defense," he said, his voice loud and firm. "Why didn't you resign? Why did you let it go on, knowing of the atrocities against the civilian population by the military?"

"I cannot evade ­responsibility," García finally responded. "But I consider that different from culpability."

"This court will make that decision," Horn said.

One year later, on February 26, 2014, the court did: García was "subject to removal from the United States." In a scathing 62-page decision, Horn cited 11 human rights atrocities that took place under García's watch. "The magnitude of the killings and torture by the Salvadoran armed forces, coupled with evidence that [García] did not make any genuine effort to end these practices," Horn wrote, led "this court to conclude that these atrocities formed part of [García's] deliberate military policy as minister of defense."


The wall in the northwest corner of San Salvador's sprawling green Parque Cuzcatlán is roughly nine feet tall and nearly 300 feet long. It's made of polished black granite, and etched in its surface, in neat white letters, are more than 30,000 names. On a hot Saturday afternoon in May, 74-year-old Dolores Hernández, her mane of curly silver hair glinting in the sunlight, strode to the wall's eastern edge. She raised her right arm and extended her index finger until it touched a name: Andrés Mira Hernández.

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5 comments
robertrripley
robertrripley

ʟɪᴋᴇ Rᴜssᴇʟʟ ᴀɴsᴡᴇʀᴇᴅ I ᴄᴀɴᴛ ʙᴇʟɪᴇᴠᴇ ᴛʜᴀᴛ sᴏᴍᴇᴏɴᴇ ᴄᴀɴ ᴇᴀʀɴ $8299 ɪɴ ғᴏᴜʀ ᴡᴇᴇᴋs ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ . ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅ ᴛʀʏ ʜᴇʀᴇ 




>>>>>>>>>>>  WWW.Jℴbs75.ℂOM

francesvs
francesvs

can we also deport all the thousands of children flooding our borders  from central america !

arnaux
arnaux

THESE GENERALS CANNOTR BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE TO DELAY DEPORTATION. tHEY SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY RIGHT TO APPEAL AND DELAY MORE THAT 6 MONTHS.

sabrinaformumia
sabrinaformumia

When will the same for is for Luis Posada Carriles who did bombings in Miami and DC 1970s??? He is still here undocumented....TOSS Carrilles out!!

fire.ant
fire.ant topcommenter

Terrific story.


 
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