The Miami Herald
November 4, 2000

General says he tried to do only good


 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 people who
 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 the
 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 uniform shaking
 hands with the pope, while other Salvadoran dignitaries look on.

 The family prayed constantly during the trial, said his daughter, Carol Montoya.
 ``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.''