Sample History Argumentative Essay on El Mozote Massacre

El Mozote Massacre

The El Mozote massacre, which took place in 1981, is considered one of the worst atrocities in the history of Salvador in the wake of its civil war. In the month of December year 1981, government forces descended on the village of El Mozoto literally known as “red zones” to illuminate guerrilla insurgents. The Atlacatl Battalion was created in 1981 and given proper modern skills through training by the U.S advisers from Special Forces in an attempt to reorganize the military of El Salvador to be able to carry out a full-scale assault against the insurgency.[1]

The soldiers conducted interrogations in an attempt to find the members of the insurgency and without due diligence and proof began to execute men under the pretext of being members of the insurgency. Vulnerable men, women, and children were put together and gunned down. Women and children of the village were gang-rapped, stubbed, and clubbed to death by the soldiers. Many of the civilians were surrounded, locked in a church, and shot through the window and their houses burnt down. By the end of the ordeal, over 800 people had been killed and up to date, no one has been brought to book over the killings.[2]

So far, the physical and psychological harm suffered by the survivors of the terrible ordeal is still evident while the government of Salvador has only afforded an apology to the victims with no proper treatment or compensation. Of concern is the assumption by the U.S government to offer any assistance to these people not even an apology, which would be in order since the perpetrators of the massacre were the elite forces of El Salvador’s army who were properly trained and equipped by the U.S government. These soldiers were trained by the U.S government as elite soldiers of the Atlacatl Battalion and were funded and armed to the teeth by U.S soldiers and military advisers who were present in the country at the time of the massacre.

The continued strong ties between the U.S government and the stubborn and notorious Atlacatl Battalion is actually baffling at this point. This is so since the soldiers went ahead and committed many other high-profile crimes while the U.S government has remained hesitant to stop them or even offer condolences to the victims. Instead, the government of the U.S poured a lot of praise on the soldiers. According to the 1992 America’s Watch Report, it was reported that the human rights policy history of the U.S in El Salvador was one of the downplaying war crimes as the U.S officials often praised the behavior of the U.S trained Atlacatl Battalion as professional and commendable. [3]

By mid-1981, not less than 1200 soldiers had equipped their operations as a “rapid reaction” battalion in charge of serious military functions in the regions of Chalatenango and Morazán. As such, the U.S officials have since been happy with the Atlacatl Battalion’s operations by praising it throughout the history of the war without due regard to human rights abuses that took place during the time. This terrible act of atrocity is tied to the history of the United States as a country that supported human rights violations instead of protecting it. Throughout the 1980s, the U.S military actively engaged in military training in Latin America and was directly or otherwise involved in human rights violations and corruption. This begs the question as to whether the United States is walking the talk on human rights protection or merely talking the walk. Of much concern is the continued support to these elite soldiers that the U.S has continued to offer at the expense of apology and support to the Salvadorian victims.

The U.S’s denial in the involvement of violation of human rights during the war has shown the structural flaws in the formulation of policies of the administration. The administration of President Reagan then believed that the Salvador guerrillas would be defeated both politically and militarily by training and arming the Salvadoran army. This administration believed in the preserve of the Salvadoran government at all cost as it was considered critical to U.S security. As a result, it is believed that this administration and its successor offered incentives to the Salvadoran government to distort, downplay, and deny the human rights violation records during the war.[4]

In conclusion, the notion that U.S training had fundamental impacts on the mentality of armed forces was punctuated by the brutal murder of six Jesuit priests together with their households in late 1989. These horrendous murders led to the call for the restoration of peace by the international community and the Congress by adding to pressures that saw the end of the conflict and as a result, it is true to say that U.S. response to this war can be considered, in Danner’s words, a “central parable of the Cold War.”


Danner, Mark. 1993. The massacre at El Mozote: a parable of the Cold War. New York: Vintage Books. Pp. 3-160 Retrieved from

[1] Danner, Mark. 1993. The massacre at El Mozote: a parable of the Cold War. New York: Vintage Books. Pp. 3-160 Retrieved from

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] Danner, Mark. 1993. The massacre at El Mozote: a parable of the Cold War. New York: Vintage Books. Pp. 3-160 Retrieved from