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The Colonel

The Colonel

by Carolyn Forché

Analysis: Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Who was "The Colonel"? Some think he was Roberto D'Aubisson, head of Salvadoran Death Squads, responsible for ordering the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, human rights advocate. And in fact, D'Aubisson is quoted as singing, "Tremble, tremble, communists…criminals with the habits of animals," while promising to "exterminate" the guerillas. (Source.)

During the Civil War of the 1980s, 65,000 civilians were slaughtered by Salvadoran militia and government sponsored death squads. Their activities were funded by U.S. aid. (Source.)

Following talks from both the Salvadoran government under President Cristiani and the Frente Faribundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional (FMLN), the United Nations signed the Peace Accords in 1992, signaling the end to twelve years of civil war. (Source.)

Interviewed in 2011 by the editors of Poetry Magazine, Forché had this to say about the poetry of witness:

One cannot transcend trauma. Trauma is trapped and clings to that which happened. We live not after trauma but in its aftermath. There is a process, which some imagine as the work of "healing," which is not perhaps accurate. This process is one of transmemberment: one is always attending to the metamorphoses: the nausea and psychic ruin of trauma moving into wisdom and strength, again and again; every day one does the work of turning trauma into what might be called grace or fortitude or wisdom. (Source.)

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