Still 'A Lot to Do' for Justice in El Salvador, Bishop Says

Twenty years after the peace accords were laid out in El Salvador that ended the country's bloody 12-year civil war, a Catholic Bishop from the region says that there's still "a lot to do" to achieve true justice and equality.

"We have a lot of ground to make up in human rights, as there is in the economic situation of the poor, the poorest part of the population continue to be the poorest," Msgr. Gregorio Rosa Chavez, the assistant bishop of San Salvador, told the Associated Press.

Chavez's remarks come after a moving speech on Monday from El Salvador President Mauricio Funes, in which he apologized for the 1981 El Mozote massacre where nearly 1,000 civilians were killed by military counterinsurgents.

"I ask forgiveness of the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters of those who still today do not know the whereabouts of their loved ones. I ask forgiveness from the people of El Salvador, who suffered an atrocious and unacceptable violence," said Funes, who was moved to tears during the speech.

The El Mozote massacre was the single bloodiest event during the country's civil war where nearly 75,000 people lost their lives.

Catholic Priest Roger Poncella called Funes' apology a "transcendental step" in the history of the nation and one that would create a favorable environment for taking reparative steps and promoting justice.

The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) also recognized Funes' speech as an important moment for the country.

The WACC has been active for several years in giving a voice to survivors of the civil war and victim's family members. In 2008 they produced a documentary titled "Colima" about a 1980 massacre in a remote village.

The documentary, which was the first of its kind to be shown in El Salvador, facilitated the beginning of a judicial process of exhumation of the victims, their identification, and the return of the bodies to their families.

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