General says he tried to do only good
BY ADRIENNE SAMUELS AND ELENA CABRAL
News of former Salvadoran Gen. José Guillermo García's
acquittal was magnified
Friday by a never-ending string of phone calls to his Plantation home.
On the line: family, friends and well-wishers from El Salvador
and other places.
They were calling to congratulate him after a civil jury found that García, 67, and
Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, 62, were not responsible for the murders of four
American churchwomen in that country 20 years ago.
``I am relieved,'' García said at his home. ``Fifteen minutes
ago I wasn't seen as
innocent, and now I am. The truth was my goal.''
Leaning back in his white leather couch, García talked
about his work to bring
democracy to his people, his desire to live quietly in retirement in Broward and his
sorrow at the treatment of the four women.
``When [we] found out what happened, I suggested to ask for the
help of the FBI
immediately,'' García said.
What happened in El Salvador was ``very shameful,'' he said. The
were responsible for the crime ``were brought to justice, condemned and they
served their punishment, which was the maximum of 30 years in El Salvador,'' he
García was defense minister when the women disappeared.
Vides, who lives in
Palm Coast, was National Guard director.
He spoke of the period during his tenure as one of great violence and difficulty.
``Both Eugenio Vides Casanova and I did everything to bring forward
Salvadoran people with honesty,'' he said. ``Never did it pass through my mind,
because I have my religious principles very well grounded, to do anything that
goes against those principles.''
The government released him from duty in 1983, he said. In 1989,
García, a father
of five, joined some of his children in Broward, where they were attending school.
On a wall of his immaculate home is a framed picture of him in
hands with the pope, while other Salvadoran dignitaries look on.
The family prayed constantly during the trial, said his daughter,
``Justice has been done,'' she said. ``Thank God for the truth.''
His life in the United States, García said, is simple.
He said he has a pension and
never receives a ``single penny'' from the U.S. Government.
García said, ``Many people think I'm going to have a celebration.
What I'm going
to do is go to church and give thanks to God for what has happened.''