A federal appeals court has upheld a $54.6 million jury verdict against two retired military officers from El Salvador holding them liable for human rights abuses in their home country during the 1980s.
The defendants – Jose Guillermo Garcia and Carlos Vides Casanova – served as Salvadoran officials during a 12-year civil war in the Central American country. They were accused in a civil suit by three Salvadoran plaintiffs who said they were tortured by military personnel during the time the two generals were in office. “Our victory in this case is a victory for the entire Salvadoran community. This decision from such an important U.S. court sends a strong message to the Salvadoran military that they will not get away with their crimes,” said Neris Gonzalez, one of the plaintiffs.
Gonzalez was a catechist and environmentalist in El Salvador when she was arrested and tortured for organizing human rights groups and organizations defending natural resources. She eventually moved to the United States.