Snippet: Jorge Galán’s “November” (1989, El Salvador)

Jorge Galán, Noviembre [November], 2016

The author is not a Spaniard and the story takes places in El Salvador, but the novel is published by a Spanish publisher and appears to be very important.

The publisher’s summary:

A moving history that stresses the necessity to speak up, as did the assassinated Jesuits, in defense of the most disadvantaged.

In 1989 the society of El Salvador lives under the horror of civil war. On a fateful early morning in November, a group of six armed men enters the facilities of the Catholic University and assessinates six Spanish Jesuits and two women in cold blood. During the days following the massacre only the new Jesuit rector, Father Tojeira, is making efforts and willing to find the assassins. The only witness who could help to solve the case is being silenced by government authorities. Who are the criminals and at whose’s orders do they act? Noviembre is an energetic and brave novel that investigates the tragic events that moved El Salvador and Latin America in 1989, and that also touches the history of other crimes, such as the one against Msg. Romero.

This blogger hasn’t read the novel yet, so he doesn’t know which conclusions the author has come to. He heard of the publication of Noviembre while reading parts of Noam Chomsky’s Chomsky on MisEducation, originally published in the year 2000. [Some of the essays in this book were published originally still earlier, such as “The craft of ‘historical engineering,'” Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, 1989, 197-261.] There is a lot of talk about crimes committed in Latin America during the 1980s with either the active support of, or tolerated by, the Reagan administration with the excuse of fighting the expansion of Socialist regimes there (“Cold War”). Chomsky criticized the US mainstream media for not reporting fully on what was going on in reality – only news that supported the views of the Reagan administration made it to the American audience. On the case dealt with by Noviembre, Chomsky had this to say [translated back to English from the Spanish version of Chomsky on MisEducation]:

conclusions of the Truth Commission, United Nations:

3. Six Jesuit priests, the housekeeper and her 15-year-old daughter, assassinated in 1989; accused is General René Emilio Ponce, Defense Minister of El Salvador until 1993.


There existed the frightening possibility that El Salvador would take the path towards a significative democracy, that would allow real popular participation in the political process…

The Carter administration reacted to these threats in El Salvador by supporting, in October 1979, a coup directed by reformist soldiers, while it assured on the other hand that the most reactionary military elements continued in predominant positions…

In February of 1980, Archbishop Romero asked Carter not to support the Junta militarily, as this, according to his own words, “would increase injustice and harden the repression begun against popular organizations that fought to defend the most basic human rights”…

But the marrow of United States policy consisted precisely in increasing repression, destroying the popular organizations and prevent independence; thus, Carter ignored the demand by Archbishop Romero and sent aid to “strengthen the key role of the military in the reforms”…

Archbishop Romero was assassinated in March 1980…

(“Unmasking a pedagogy of lies: a debate with John Silber,” edited by Donaldo Macedo, in La (des-)educación, p. 204, 215)


Amnesty International, as does Human Rights Watch, reports on the human rights situation of countries all over the world on a regular basis; in their 2015/16 report on El Salvador, they critize, among a lot of other issues, that

The 1993 Amnesty Law remained in place, denying access to justice and reparations to victims of the human rights violations committed during the armed conflict (1980-1992).

So, whatever the merits of Noviembre, by just appearing it has made a point in reminding us of the dark sides of the recent past and disturbing facts of the present in many countries that hardly ever make the news.

SOURCE: Tusquets – Planeta (publisher)


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