Murder in El Salvador: A letter from Dean Brackley

Fr. Dean Brackley, a Jesuit at the University of Central America, wrote an all-too-familiar and tragic letter this week:  

Dear friends,

Last night (Sunday) I joined members of the Jayaque community to receive the bodies of Francisco Carillo and his wife, Jesus Calzada de Carillo, co-pastors of the Lutheran Church in Jayaque.

Francisco and Jesusita were both shot in the Colonia Dos de Mayo, near Los Sítios on Saturday (Nov. 4) at 5:20PM as Francisco locked up the Lutheran chapel there following a religious service. His wife was shot and killed as she waited nearby in their vehicle parked and ready to take them and a couple of passengers home. Francisco was not killed immediately but actually died along the road at Los Chorros on the way to the hospital. (To compound the tragedy, by law the vehicle had to stop and call legal authorities –who do not work nights on weekends. The two bodies, along with the couple’s two adult children, Roxana and Wilber, had to spend the night on the roadside. The legal medical authorities did not arrive until the next morning.)

People present near the site of the killings saw the three men on bicycles who shot the couple. Although people heard the shots, they first thought they were firecrackers. According to one of the witnesses, the killers were from nearby communities, Tsu-chi and Llano Verde, which have been plagued by gang violence. Some believe that the killers were gang members, but nothing was robbed, and the motive remains unclear.

Last night at the wake and vigil, one resident of Dos de Mayo expressed frustration, claiming that to his knowledge the police (PNC) still had not arrived to the scene of the murders more than 48 hours after they occurred.

Furthermore, Paco (Francisco) told one of those present just before the service that just before, while on the way to the service, a vehicle had made menacing movements, as if to run Paco and Jesus off the road. A mutual friend of the couple told me that several weeks ago, during a house visit by a Lutheran friend from the U.S., Paco had confided to him that he had been threatened (“Estoy amenazado”). Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gómez confirmed that fact last night at the wake and vigil in Jayaque. Last Tuesday, at the meeting of Lutheran ministers, talk was circulating about threats received by Paco. Francisco told the bishop then, “Dicen que me quieren matar. Pero no tengo miedo. No he hecho nada malo. Y ando con el Señor.”

Last night, after the bodies arrived in Jayaque at almost 10:00PM, Bishop Gómez expressed the profound pain, grief and indignation that everyone felt. He pointed out the work done by Paco and his wife in founding the ambulance service for the poor rural community of Jayaque. Paco had also helped form groups in defense of human rights. Bishop Gómez expressed exasperation that people would kill such people, ministers who went about doing only good. He said, “No tengo duda de que Francisco Carillo, en particular, fue asesinado por su trabajo en favor de la justicia y la paz, por su trabajo en favor de los derechos humanos.”

Francisco and Jesus were also well-know members of the FMLN. Their death raises important questions about the motive, and the people, behind the killings, when one takes into account the present tense political climate in the country and the presence of significant FMLN support in what is an area traditionally dominated by the right, even the extreme right. Jayaque has also been plagued for decades by widespread electoral fraud, as I can attest on the basis of testimony by trusted people.

Paco and Jesus leave two grown children, Roxana and Wilber.

While a student at the UCA (in law), Roxana was a member of the Martín Baró cooperative. We Jesuits and the cooperative have collaborated with the Lutheran church in Jayaque in response in post- earthquake re-construction.

Paco y Jesus, ¡Presentes! Descansen en paz.

We continue to offer prayers for the Lutheran Church, the family of Jesus and Paco and the community of Jayaque. We must demand a thorough and effective investigation of these horrible murders.


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1 Comment »

  1. John Bach said

    In a JustFaith community that I belong to we have been reading Father Dean Brackley’s book entitled The CALL to Discernment in Troubled Times – New Perspectives on the Transformative Wisdom of Ignatius of Loyola. In reading about the murders of Paco and Jesus I needed to draw on Father Brackley’s book to help me set aside my anger. In chapter 3 there is a scripture passage from John 3:19, “People loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil..” Paco and Jesus encountered such people! As Father Brackley shared in this letter Paco and Jesus’s ministry was centered on compassion, love and justice. Truly they are 21st Century Saints to model after and I would suggest for all “justice seekers” that we continue their work of justice, compassion and love. They shall not be silenced! Father Brackley went on to say in chaper 3..”The Truth Will Set You Free”!

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