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On December 10 1981 the people of a small Salvadoran town El Mozote were detained without resistance by the Atlacatl Battalion which was a US trained army On the following day December 11 after spending the night locked in their homes they were deliberately and systematically executed in groups First the men were tortured and executed then the women were executed and lastly the children This operation known as operative de tierra arrasada was a scorched-earth operation Basically If the guerillas were fish swimming in a sea of people then the armys job would be to drain the sea As officers put it it was to take away water from the fish The civil war in El Salvador began in the 1970s due to discontent with social inequalities a poor economy and the repressive measures of dictatorship The government was composed of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance ARENA party and leftist anti-government guerrilla units were led by the Farabundo Mart National Liberation Front FMLN The US supported the side of the right-wings despite its scores of human rights violations Early in 1981 advisers from the US Army Special Forces were sent to perfect the military skills of the Salvadorans The training program was a key element of the Reagan administrations drive to professionalize the anti-guerrilla operations of El Salvadors military The Reagan administration also hoped that this training would ensure the ability to prevent an uprising The first unit trained was Atlacatl which was to become what the US instructors called a search-and-destroy force developed to clean up questionable areas El Mozote was in a place in a zone that was one hundred percent controlled by the guerrillas The army tries to dry those areas up knowing that they arent going to be able to work with the civilian population of El Mozote Their only option is to kill everybody without even knowing who is a guerrilla and who isnt The army figured that
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