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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Journalist By Trade

As the shouts and the screaming gradually diminished, the drone of the guerrilla cadre kept instructing people to 'stay down, stay down!' Thousands had by then already left the area, in a mad dash for safety from an unseen enemy. The unlucky ones, trampled and crushed by the stampeding throng, some of them dead, were left on the pavement.
It was then that the lanky, blond American photographer, cameras awkwardly dangling from his neck and shoulders, ventured onto the street. The sight of Harry Mattison helping some other spontaneous volunteers carrying the injured away from the street, while chanting "El pueblo, unido, jamás será vencido!" (The people, united, will never be defeated!) was one of the last images I registered while trying to leave the National Cathedral.
It was Palm Sunday, March 30, 1980. Welcome to madness!
To all practical effects, the civil war in El Salvador had started years ago.
For me, the actual beginning of one of the most bloody internal conflicts in modern Latin American history had been less than a week before, in the early evening of Monday March 24. It was then that monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, Archbishop of San Salvador, was murdered while saying mass. In Monsignor and Me, earlier blogged here, I told a little about the priest. In this and other posts over the next few days I will be reminiscing over the events on that bloody Palm Sunday, about "el padre Romero", and other stuff.
For now, I leave you here with the scanned cover and selected pages of "De Profesión Periodista," a book where my Spanish colleague Antonio Coll Gilabert picked up a summary of my dispatches from that horrific day. (Please click on each image to read the pages.)

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