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Detained by the Army


Nelson explains he was arrested for disobeying orders by the army to participate in paramilitary patrols.


I was spreading the news about injustices the Salvadoran people were experiencing. The following day the Salvadoran Armed Forces captured me, tied me up, and brought me to Arcatao. There was a colonel here they called Colonel Reyes. He got up on a platform made up of two boxes, called the local population and delivered a message. At that point six of us were already there. Colonel Reyes said we were going to be executed for disobeying the orders of the commander in Nueva Trinidad. We had been invited to patrol a place they call Las Cuevas, Honduras, and look for Honduran people to kill them. That was the order they gave us. They told us to find troops or find out information about them. I was captured because I disobeyed that order. They held me after Colonel Reyes delivered his message and said they would kill us. They also told everybody else there that if they didn’t follow orders they would face the same fate. They held the six of us face down, here in Arcatao, in a street with trenches made by the Armed Forces. Then 10 soldiers brought us to the command post of the Salvadoran Armed Forces in La Cañada.

When they read the letter, it said, "These people are on their way. Let’s send them to El Tigre", which was a post in Honduras.

In El Tigre, they gave the order for our execution.

Then, someone said, "Lieutenant Vega, you take charge of executing these people."

They went to look for some ropes and right when they started to hang the first one, they received instructions from Colonel Reyes ordering not to execute us. Instead, they were told to send us to Valladolid to punish us, to grind corn day and night for the Salvadoran soldiers that were there. So we did. While I was there, I saw a bunch of dead people, including soldiers and civilians. After a while they moved us back to Arcatao. We were captured again and they brought a group of Hondurans, who were taken to Colonel Reyes and disappeared. That same afternoon they sent us to a place they call La Vecina, in Honduras, carrying a heavy box. We had to go up the road at gunpoint all the way to Gualcimaca. From there to Honduras, to a place they called La Vecina, Honduras. The command post was up above the town of La Virtud, in Honduras.