By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
•Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova and Jose Guillermo Garcia, ex-director general of the Salvadoran National Guard and ex-Salvadoran defense minister, respectively. On July 23, 2002, GarcŪa and Casanova were fined $54.6 million by a Florida federal jury. The verdict capped a dramatic, weeks-long civil lawsuit brought by three Salvadoran torture victims who survived their ordeals and lived long enough to testify about them.
One Salvadoran plaintiff, Juan Romagoza Arce, was a doctor when National Guardsmen abducted him in 1980. For 22 days, Romagoza was imprisoned inside the National Guard's headquarters, beaten and tortured with electric shocks. He was also strung from the ceiling by his fingertips. Another kidnapping victim, university professor Carlos Mauricio, testified that he was imprisoned for several days, beaten and hung from his hands for hours on end.
The third plaintiff, Neris Gonzalez, was a young church worker who was eight months' pregnant when the National Guard abducted her in 1979. Tortured for several days, raped and stomped on, Gonzales said she was forced to watch another prisoner's torture and execution. Her captors also forced her to drink the prisoner's blood. She was finally dumped in the back of a truck full of corpses and left for dead. She managed to crawl to freedom, but her son died two months after being born.
Both Garcia and Casanova are retired and living the quiet life in Florida.