Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Enemies of War
navigation

Broadcast Schedule

Get the Video


ITVS

PBS

SCETV

The Story

For nearly a decade, El Salvador had been experiencing the cruel intensity of civil war, a conflict reportedly fueled by billions of dollars in aid from the United States government. Then, in 1989, an unspeakable crime occurred, one that would shock the international community and eventually lead a nation towards peace. ENEMIES OF WAR examines the horrific murders of six Jesuit priests and the subsequent political and social ramifications as seen through the eyes of a Salvadoran family, a United States congressman, an ex-ambassador and an American priest.

Margarita Acosta de Alas
Margarita Acosta de Alas
ENEMIES OF WAR, shot on location in El Salvador, Mexico City and Washington, D.C., looks at the war from the perspective of civilians like Margarita Acosta de Alas. This Salvadoran mother of five explains how her husband Rigoberto fought with the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) rebels. She shares a story of high drama, a life on the run, forced separations from her husband and narrow escapes from the Salvadoran army's bombing and infantry attacks. She speaks of the atrocities perpetrated by her government's army, killing citizens, pregnant women and children.

Joseph Moakley It was so unfair to go in and take these priests out of bed, with the housekeeper and her daughter, in the middle of the night. Their only defense were rosary beads or the Bible... and then to spray them with machine guns so that their brains get blown out and splattered all over the walls. -The Hon. Joseph Moakley, U.S. Congressman

United States Congressman Joe Moakley, appalled by the brutal murders of the Jesuits and responding to an international outcry, led a task force to investigate the deaths. His investigation forced him to seriously challenge the United States policy in El Salvador - a policy designed to fund the anti-Communist Salvadoran government despite the human rights abuses of its army. His investigation began an international process that actually led to the end of the war and the beginning of a profound change for El Salvador.

Father Dean Brackley
Father Dean Brackley
Dean Brackley, an American Jesuit priest, shares another piece of this story. He traveled to El Salvador in early 1990 to fill the teaching position at the University of Central America left vacant by the murder of one of the Jesuits. He wanted to continue the Jesuit tradition of teaching the poor to demand and expect basic human rights. Not everyone was interested in honoring the Jesuits' desires.

James McGovern We never got the impression that the truth was the ultimate goal up here. It was always damage control, damage control. We have a military aid vote coming up, you know, damage control. How do we continue military aid, how do we avoid a debate, how do we k

ENEMIES OF WAR includes interviews and conversations with an American congressman sent on the inquiry into El Salvador, a former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador and other diplomats, a Salvadoran opposition political candidate, a spokesperson for the FMLN and two Jesuits who teach at the University of Central America. The documentary looks at the historic Peace Accords of 1992 - when thousands of FMLN rebels gave up their weapons to United Nations (U.N.) forces and 102 Salvadoran officers, many of whom were named in the Truth Commission Report, were dismissed or forced to retire. It also explores the findings of the U.N. Truth Commission on El Salvador.

Through the personal stories of both Salvadorans and Americans, ENEMIES OF WAR explains how ordinary people made extraordinary contributions to one of the boldest experiments in recent memory - the creation of peace in a land that for years had only known war.




Story | People | El Salvador | Timeline | Perspectives | Film | Talkback | Resources | ITVS


home resources talkback film perspectives timeline El Salvador people