A NEWS RELEASE
From the office of ELCIC Mission in the World
Winnipeg, February 3, 2005 (ELCIC)--Referring to an attack last Saturday on Salvadoran Lutheran University, ELCIC Missionary Rev. Brian Rude wrote: "The Beatitudes (Sunday's Gospel reading, taken from Matthew 5:1-12) take on special significance this week for Salvadoran Lutherans and friends.
In the early hours of Saturday, January 29, the Salvadoran Lutheran University was raided and sacked. The guard on duty was killed, and left hanging from a tree in plain view of the street, gagged, blindfolded and with hands and feet tied. Almost all of the university's equipment was stolen, including the bus, which was abandoned on the opposite side of the city, two blocks from the home of the university's acting rector, Rev. Hector Fernandez."
Rev. Fernandez also issued a statement: "The cruelty of the violence always present in our country has come (in the form of violent blows) to the Salvadoran Lutheran University...We are filled with much consternation and at this moment we are not able to deduce the motives of this act. We remember the violence of the past...
...we know that the losses will be very significant for this small university. The Lutheran Salvadoran University is characterized as an alternative project in education, promoting a critical conscience for the society, accompanying the people in their struggles for justice, and in giving opportunities of education for the poor of El Salvador.
In this past year [the guard, Manuel de Jesus Martinez] has become a part of the Lutheran community of San Lorenzo. He is survived by two sons and two daughthers."
An official University Communique added: "This act has left us profoundly dismayed, above all because of the fury with which it was perpetrated--irreparable damage, since life is the greatest gift that God has given us.
The current action causes us to reflect on the vulnerability of institutions which, serving so that a New El Salvador might be possible, suffer acts of this nature. It is worrisome to think that the motive for these actions has not been only theft but rather to frighten in order to curb the commitment which we have assumed, since this is not only about a robbery but also about a savage assassination which reminds us of the horrors of the years of the armed conflict.
We affirm in a categorical manner and we are convinced that peace is not constructed with violence and repression and that the so-called tough-hand policy generates only more violence and does not resolve the structural problems which generate injustice. We respectfully call upon the current government to direct its energies and resources toward creating employment, toward opening opportunities so that youth and children can study and in this way contribute to the construction of a country where peace, as the fruit of social justice, prevails.
We communicate to the university population and to the Salvadoran people in general that in spite of the damage inflicted upon our institution, academic activities will be continued: education, research and social projection. Our University will come out strengthened by this brutal aggression and our energies will not be exhausted."
The Salvadoran Lutheran Synod is a partner church of the ELCIC. Rev. Brian Rude is an ELCIC long-term missionary who has been serving in El Salvador for more than 15 years and has taught classes in the theology department of the Salvadoran Lutheran University.