Atlacatl Battalion

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Atlacatl Battalion
Batallón Atlácatl
Active1981–1992
Country El Salvador
Branch Salvadoran Army
TypeBattalion
RoleCounter-insurgency
Size2,000
Part ofRapid Deployment Infantry Battalions
PatronAtlácatl
EngagementsSalvadoran Civil War
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Domingo Monterrosa Barrios

The Atlacatl Battalion (Spanish: Batallón Atlácatl) was a rapid-response, counter-insurgency battalion of the Salvadoran Army created in 1981. It was implicated in some of the most infamous massacres of the Salvadoran Civil War, and as a result, it was disbanded by the Chapultepec Peace Accords in 1992. It was named after Atlácatl, a legendary indigenous figure from the Spanish conquest of El Salvador.

History[edit]

The Salvadoran Civil War began on 15 October 1979 with the overthrow of President Carlos Humberto Romero.[1] The military established the Revolutionary Government Junta to govern the country in the wake of the coup and it established itself to be a "reformist" junta.[1][2][3] The United States was covertly involved in the coup and actively supported the junta.[3]

In January 1981, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a left-wing guerrilla group opposed to the junta, began an offensive against the junta and marched on military targets, most notably the Ilopango Airport.[4][5] In reaction, the United States increased military and economic assistance to the junta and helped establish the Rapid Deployment Infantry Battalions, a network of specialized counter-insurgent army units.[4] The first unit formed was the Atlacatl Battalion in March 1981, followed by the Atonal Battalion in January 1982 and the Belloso Battalion in May 1982.[4] The battalion was named after Atlácatl, a legendary indigenous figure from the Spanish conquest of El Salvador who fought against conquistador Pedro de Alvarado.[6]

The United States sent fifteen counter-insurgent specialists to El Salvador in March 1981 to train the newly formed battalion.[6] Weapons, ground vehicles, and helicopters were sent to the battalion which numbered around 2,000 soldiers.[6]

The battalion was disbanded in 1992 under the terms of the Chapultepec Peace Accords that ended the twelve-year civil war.[7]

Investigation by the Truth Commission for El Salvador[edit]

In the early 1990s, the Truth Commission for El Salvador was established by the United Nations to investigate war crimes committed during the civil war.[8] The report concluded that the battalion was responsible for the El Mozote massacre, the El Calabozo massacre, and the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests.[9][10][11][12] The Battalion was also implicated in the killing of around 50 civilians on the banks of the Guaslinga river.[13] Human Rights Watch independently linked the battalion to additional massacres not cited in the UNTC report including dozens of people killed in Tenancingo and Copapayo in 1983, sixty-eight people killed in Los Llanitos, and three separate killings of civilians in 1989.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "El Salvador – The Reformist Coup of 1979". countrystudies.us. U.S. Library of Congress. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Presidentes de El Salvador – Primera Junta Revolucionaria de Gobierno" [Presidents of El Salvador – First Revolutionary Government Junta]. Presidente Elías Antonio Saca El Salvador (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 21 April 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b Beverley 1982, pp. 63–65
  4. ^ a b c Betancur 1993, p. 29
  5. ^ Betancur 1993, pp. 30–31
  6. ^ a b c Goldston and Rone 1990, pp. 224–225
  7. ^ Gaceta Militar (2002). "Cumplimiento AC-PAZ". Archived from the original on 1 April 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  8. ^ Betancur 1993, p. 11
  9. ^ Betancur 1993, p. 30
  10. ^ Betancur 1993, pp. 47–50
  11. ^ Betancur 1993, pp. 114–120
  12. ^ Betancur 1993, pp. 125–126
  13. ^ Betancur 1993, p. 209
  14. ^ Goldston and Rone 1990, pp. 225–227

Bibliography[edit]