Mural of Oscar Romero

 Romero tells the story of the civil war that wracked the country of El Salvador three decades ago, and of the mild-mannered Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero who grudgingly entered the conflict on the side of the poor. Romero evolved into one of the most visible and outspoken critics of the outrages committed during the Cold-War conflict and gave consistent voice to the principle of nonviolence. For his activism, Archbishop Romero would pay with his life.

This movie does not pull punches in the images of violence that it presents. This is righteous anger from the director, who wanted to wake people up with something hard, not fuzzy. You will find this hard to believe, but the movie stops just as the war begins. In other words, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Some attending the funeral of Romero are shot for doing so by government soldiers, some circling above in a helicopter and firing down on the public.

A guerrilla group is formed from many parties – some Marxist — in the following year. It was called the FMLN for the Faribundo Mart National Liberation Front. They launch a civil war against the government, and the government earns the backing of the U.S. in the name of fighting the Cold War. The U.S. will vastly increase its military aid and training to El Salvador, totaling an average of $1.5 million dollars per day for the next 12 years.

The death toll is between 60,000 and 75,000 killed over the war, varied depending on when you start the war and the death count. This is in a country of 6 million. So the share of dead to the total population would equal, if this were to happen to the U.S., would be as if the U.S. lost 3.25 million people. Think of this way, their loss would be as if the U.S. had suffered death on the scale of the 9-11-2001 attacks every three days since the day of those attacks.