Associated Press
May 29, 2000

Massacre Survivor Meets Parents

          By The Associated Press

          CASERIO LA CANOA, El Salvador (AP) -- Most believed that the
          6-year-old boy had been massacred by the army along with a thousand
          other peasants in 1981, at the start of El Salvador's 12-year civil war.

          Nineteen years later, Jose Martinez, now 25, has been reunited with his
          parents after an exhaustive investigation by the Association to Support
          the Search for Children, an organization dedicated to finding children
          who disappeared during the war.

          He was saved and later adopted by one of the soldiers who attacked the
          village of Los Angueta, in the eastern province of Morazan.

          According to a report from the Catholic Church's human rights office,
          more than 1,000 peasants were gunned down and the victims were
          buried in common graves during the massacre, which took place from
          December 11-13, 1981.

          ``Blessed be God, who took care of you so well,'' exclaimed Martinez's
          father, Jose Cenobio Guevara, as he hugged and kissed his son during
          the reunion Sunday in the small town of La Canoa, 50 miles southeast of
          the capital, San Salvador.

          ``We believed the war had snatched him from us, but he is alive, thank
          God and the heroic soldier who protected him,'' Guevara said.

          The soldier, Manuel Ortega Hernandez, protected the boy during the
          three-day military operation of U.S.-trained Salvadoran soldiers, and
          later adopted him.

          Martinez stayed with Ortega until 1990, when the ex-soldier went to live
          with relatives in the United States. Martinez still lives and works as an
          agriculture specialist in northern Chalatenango province where the family
          raised him.

          ``I thank him because he saved my life and because I found my parents
          again,'' said a sobbing Martinez, accompanied by his wife and two

          ``The first thing he said to me was, `You are going to stay at my side. I'm
          going to give up my life for you. If you die, I will die. God willing, you're
          coming to my house,''' Martinez said.

          Since 1995, the Association to Support the Search for Children has
          investigated 557 cases of children who disappeared in the Salvadoran

          The organization has located 90 children, more than 50 of whom were
          adopted by families in the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, and
          several European countries said the group's director, Father Jon Cortina.

          His organization on Monday asked congress to create a national
          commission to help solve the 374 remaining cases.

          During El Salvador's 12-year civil war, more than 75,000 people were
          killed by soldiers and members of the rebel Farabundo Marti National
          Liberation Front. Peace accords signed in 1992 ended the fighting.