a global human rights group:
Comadres was set up in 1977, when 'disappearances' were the
order of the day in El Salvador. The group came into existence
because relatives of 'disappeared' persons felt the need to
share their grief with partners in misfortune and to unite
forces with them. At the moment Comadres is working on 4,000
cases of 'disappearances', an emotionally arduous job for
the relatives. On the one hand the women know that their 'disappeared'
husbands and children probably have been killed, on the other
hand, as long as the body hasn't been found there is always
a spark of hope that makes them believe that one day the missing
person may return home. This glimmer of hope gives strength
to the organization: the fight goes on.
Meanwhile the women of Comadres have extended their activities.
They are involved in human rights education. On the social
and economic level they undertake joint activities too. Because
of the 'disappearance' of their husbands or sons, the economic
situation of the women, already belonging to the economic
lower class, has become worse. Most of them demand financial
compensation from the government. But financial compensation
isn't the most important issue; much more important is the
social, mental and political support. Finally, the women of
Comadres are trying to get psychological help for children
who have been traumatized by the events that took place during
the civil war in El Salvador.
On the 16th of January 1992, the peace agreements, that ended
a decade of civil war, were signed. Now there is peace in El
Salvador, but this doesn't mean that the underlying problems
have been solved. After the report of the U.N. Truth Commission
was published in March 1993, the government of El Salvador proclaimed
a general amnesty. As a consequence, victims of human rights
violations risk to run across their torturers in the streets.
An adverse effect of the peace agreements is that the support
for Comadres from abroad has ended. For outsiders the problems
in El Salvador have been solved. Yet death-squads are still
operating and the real job, the struggle against impunity, has
yet to begin.