Film: 5757

Places + Locations | 1980 | Sound | Colour


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Film dedicated to four North American missionaries Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, Maura Clarke and Jean Donovan murdered in El Salvador, Central America 1980's

and the thousands of Salvadorians killed in their struggle for liberty.

A large group of nuns on the steps of a church. Nuns waving. A nun with a boy. Children being taught by a nun. A nun expounding the views of the Mary Knoll Missionary Community. She talks about the inequality in El Salvador. She is Sister Peggy Healy. A woman, girl and boy in front of a wall with political Graffiti on it. Salvadorians - women, one with a baby. A market in El Salvador. Children, one naked, with their mother. Huts in a street in El Salvador. The voice-over talks about the desire for change brought about on missionaries from living amongst the poor. Sister Ita Ford, murdered in 1980 . Sister Maura Clarke , murdered with Ita Ford. Maura Clarke giving a speech. She speaks about her work. She speaks about the danger of being a missionary in El Salvador.
A refugee camp in San Salvador. Voice of Ita Ford. People, mostly women and children, mostly sitting around under trees. Some walking about. Refugees - a woman and a young boy. A woman chopping a vegetable. People standing under trees, cooking under scant shelter. A woman holding a young child, a woman breastfeeding a baby. The voice-over describes the conditions in the camps. It is the refugee camp of the archdiocese of San Jose. A refugee camp worker describes the running of the camp. A woman preparing food. Near her sit two children. A group of refugees. The refugee camp worker praises the help they have had from the North American nuns. He says the displacement of the rural folk was the worst crime the government had committed. A mother with her children explains why they left the countryside to seek refuge in the camp. A little girl. The mother says they have been in the camp for seven months. She describes the hardships they faced getting to the camp. A man explains he is in the camp because of the government's repression. He says he was lucky to escape. Children watching him. He fled after his brother-in-law was murdered. Children. The refugee camp worker describes the origins of the camp.

Soldiers on a road in the country. Soldiers on a truck. The refugee camp worker. He says there were murders by the security forces.
Colonel Guillermo Garcia, Minister for defence and Public Security, walks into his ministry. A line of soldiers armed with rifles leap up from their seats as he enters. He acknowledges them and they sit back down. Colonel Garcia in his office. He describes the composition of the security forces. The soldiers in the lobby. Colonel Garcia gives his rationale for the state violence in El Salvador. A representative of the Human Rights Commission of El Salvador. He gives an alternative view and says that the government's blaming repression on their fight against communism is just a blind. Repression in El Salvador is aimed against everyone. The Human Rights Commission of El Salvador.
Marianella Garcia Villas, President of the Human Rights Commission. She says the aim of the army is the extermination of the civilian population as they are all potential subversives to the army’s way of thinking. A street scene in San Salvador ? A woman carrying a basket on her head. A street vendor in front of a wall with political graffiti on it. A soldier checking the documents of a driver at a checkpoint. Soldiers at the checkpoint. A soldier checking identity at a checkpoint. Men up against a wall apparently being searched by soldiers. They are by a bus stop. A woman gets onto a bus. Two women - a mother and daughter? - describe the abduction and murder of the mother's son. A woman grieving over a dead body. A funeral ? The representative of the Human Rights Commission. He says that the violence does not come from subversive guerrillas but from the armed forces. The struggle is between two sides - the government and the people.

A demonstration in San Salvador. A student banner - M E R S. A band is behind the banner. A truckload of soldiers drives past. The demonstration again. A street vendor pushes his drinks stall across the path of the MERS banner. A policeman armed with a rifle jogs along a pavement. People running down a street, behind them smoke and small fires.
Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. He says that evidence comes from the right and although some people resist using violence, the guilty ones are those on the right. A demonstration to commemorate Archbishop Romero? Or his funeral. He was murdered while saying mass. Archbishop Romero's body in a glass-topped coffin in a cathedral. People grieving by his coffin. People standing mourning Romero,. A picture of him hanging from a balcony of the cathedral. A square packed full of people at the Archbishop's funeral or memorial service. They hold the service in the main plaza in front of the cathedral because so many people turned up. Smoke from a bomb by the plaza. The crowd panics. A woman who has bee trampled to death as the crowd fled. The narrator says many people died in the square.
People leaving the cathedral holding their hands up. Guillermo Manuel Ungo, President, Democratic Revolutionary Front. He says that the people now had no choice but to fight back by all means necessary. Mass meetings held at the founding of the Democratic Revolutionary Front, April, 1980. It is a broad coalition of organisation. Pictures of both the floor and those on the podium. People on the podium standing up holding hands. Applause from the floor. One of the men on the podium makes himself known. A man to his left applauds. Three men on the podium. One stands up and gives a clenched fist salute. He receives applause. Three men on the podium. Another stands up and gives a clenched fist salute. He too receives applause. Ungo.

A still of Ita Ford with another nun and a Salvadorian. Her voice. She says there is a civil war in El Salvador. Soldiers standing around a group of men lying on the ground in what looks like a driveway off a city street. The men are told to stand up by the soldiers. With their hands behind their heads, they get on to the back of an army truck. They are made to lie down and with the armed soldiers standing over them, the truck drives off. Ita Ford says she was told by the Colonel of the local regiment that the Church is indirectly subversive. Bill Ford, Ita Ford's brother, describes how he was told of her disappearance. Digging up the bodies of the four murdered nuns. People watching the exhumation. Lifting a body out of the grave. A man takes a picture. The grave. Three of the bodies under sheets.
The funeral service of the murdered nuns. The cathedral is packed. A tearful Peggy Healy. A priest in contemplation. Terence Cardinal Cooke delivers the eulogy. The mourners. Sister Peggy Healy speaks about the dead nuns legacy. San Salvador Metropolitan cathedral. People kneeling at prayer before a picture of Archbishop Romero. Bishop Arturo Rivera y Damas delivers a speech from the pulpit to the assembled congregation. He appears to be praising the foundation of the Democratic Revolutionary Front. Pictures of members of the congregation . Behind one man is what looks like political graffiti. The bishop leaves the cathedral. Applause from the congregation. A woman puts some money into a collection box on a statue. Journalists ask the bishop questions. He is asked who is responsible for repression of the church. He says it is the security forces of the state. When asked why he thought the nuns were killed he says that although their work was deeply religious it was not well thought of by everyone - some thought it subversive. He's asked if he thinks the security forces were involved in the nuns' murders he replies that everything like that which takes place is done with the connivance of the authorities. Bob Ford says that the state-sponsored forces murdered his sister and they would have had American weapons and ammunition.

Sister Melinda Roper, President of the Maryknoll sisters. She says she is not primarily interested in finding out who the individuals were , but to expose the situation in El Salvador, where more than 9000 people have been killed. Terence Cardinal Cooke. He wants them not to have died in vain. The United States of America suspended military and economic aid to El Salvador shortly after the murders. Men in suits walk up steps. Behind them is a car park. The men walk past the camera. They are members of the Salvadorian junta. They have reshuffled themselves. Rather than having five members of the junta, one became President, one vice-president and the others were given important government positions. Because of this new, more democratic public face, economic aid from the U.S.A. was reinstated.
A crowded auditorium. The audience applauds. Jose Napoleon Duarte, President of the Junta, delivers a speech. He wanted to be voted in but the armed forces and the Christian Democratic Party "interpreting the feelings of the people of this country" made him president. Pictures of lots of military officers listening. Duarte is dressed casually. He says he is the first civilian president of El Salvador in fifty years. He needs the support of the army but more than that he needs popular support. Pictures of lots of army officers listening to Duarte's first speech. Duarte's second speech - there have been abuses of authority by the security forces. Lots of security forces officers walking in a corridor. An army officer leaving the parliament building. Bob Ford's voice over pictures of a truckload of soldiers. "It makes no sense for the US government to support a clique of murderers." Bob Ford. He says military aid to the current El Salvador junta should cease. Murat Williams US ambassador to El Salvador 1961-1964 "Nothing good has come from thirty years of (US) military aid to El Salvador." The United States have trained the Salvadorian security forces in repression. Richard Feinberg, US Department 1977-1980. He says if the US continues to support the Salvadorian government , it will damage America's image abroad.

Hector Ocqueli, former deputy foreign minister of El Salvador. He compares the US government's intervention in the internal affairs of El Salvador with their intervention in Vietnam. Ungo. The United States Government has sided with the armed forces and oligarchy. Refugee camp worker. He says he is scared about a possible US (military) intervention and calls for international support for El Salvador to forge its own destiny. Voice of Ita Ford over pictures of children playing in the refugee camp. She expresses her opposition to the US training of the Salvadorian security forces and the military aid they get. She says that the US should stay out of the affairs of other countries and allow them true self-determination. Murat Williams. The problems of the Salvadorian people are for they themselves to solve. Shipping US weapons to Central America encourages the risk of an international war.
Sister Peggy Healy. The work of the Maryknoll in El Salvador is the work of the church of El Salvador. The Church of El Salvador has often asked the US government to end the military aid used to repress the people of El Salvador. Just before his death, Archbishop Romero wrote to President Carter to ask him to end the military aid. Sister Melinda Roper. She says in a tribute to the murdered nuns that the purpose of an investigation into the murders should be to expose the situation in El Salvador to the world. A stained glass window. Nuns and priests leave a church.

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