On Wednesday, August 11th, Alicia Garcia, one of the founding members of the Committee of Mothers Monseñor Romero, passed away after over thirty years of unending struggle in defense of human rights and for justice in El Salvador
After witnessing the student massacre of June 30, 1975 from the Maternity Hospital where she worked at the time, sheltering students running from the National Guard and watching bodies thrown into military trucks, never to be seen again, coupled with the disappearance of her own son, Alicia accompanied women searching for their loved ones in prisons, morgues, and mass graves. When he was named archbishop, Monseñor Romero encouraged the Comadres to form a committee to search for their loved ones, support each other, and denounce violence together. At every Sunday mass, Monseñor Romero would read a list of disappeared, tortured and killed people that the Comadres compiled as they received information and testimonies from victims and families of victims.
Because of their extensive library of documents and photographs of the death squad and military violence during the 1970s and 1980s, the Comadres offices were bombed many times. In meeting with delegations, Alicia would often share her own heart-wrenching testimony of the disappearance, torture and death of her children and her unending search for their whereabouts and sometimes, her own stories of torture at the hands of the military.
From accompanying women to morgues, mass graves, and prisons during the war, Comadres, with Alicia in the forefront, formed a crucial part of the Pro-Monument Committee, which created the Monument to Truth and Memory in honor of the civilian victims of the civil war. When she spoke about this monument, Alicia would emphasize the story behind each name, the struggles for justice, the family left behind, many of whom never knew the final resting place of their loved one. “To never forget,” she said.
Alicia continued to call for an end to impunity and investigations into human rights violations during the war, worked with victims and orphans in mental health issues, and shared her story and the story of thousands of Salvadorans with younger generations and international delegations to ensure that the past is never forgotten.
As we mourn her death, we also celebrate her life and take it as an example for our own. Alicia, who faced unfathomable hardships and unsurmountalbe odds, never gave up her faith or her struggle for justice. During the war, she was a beacon of light and strength for thousands of mothers whose loved ones had disappeared, and became a beacon of light for an entire society against violence, repression and injustice. She is a call, a reminder, to continue the work for justice and in defense of human rights, whatever the cost. Alicia, we will not forget.