The Moakley Archive at Suffolk University has many resources that help illustrate U.S. foreign relations with El Salvador during the 1980s and 1990s and in particular, Congressman Joe Moakley’s work related to El Salvador’s civil war, the investigation of the murders of Jesuit priests in 1989, and human rights and immigration issues.
Below is an annotated compilation of primary sources available at the Moakley Archive, and secondary sources such as books, journal articles and websites about El Salvador, including U.S. legislation, some of which Congressman Moakley was instrumental in creating. Many of the books and articles are available at Suffolk’s Sawyer Library or Moakley Law Library. Please contact the Archives for more information.
From 1980 until 1992, El Salvador was ripped apart by a civil war that left more than 75,000 people dead. During this time, the United States, fearing that El Salvador would succumb to a leftist takeover, poured funds into Salvadoran military operations. Although Moakley had been urging the Reagan administration to cut El Salvador’s military funding since the early 1980s, his commitment to El Salvador was cemented after meetings with constituents that included refugees of the Salvadoran civil war and a group of community activists, the Jamaica Plain Committee on Central America.
As a result of these encounters Moakley spent the next six years working to ease immigration restrictions on Salvadorans, and was later chosen to lead a congressional investigation into the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests and two women at the University of Central America in San Salvador. This congressional investigation, also known as the Moakley Commission, revealed that the murders had been directed from the upper levels of the Salvadoran armed forces. The findings also resulted in reduced military funding to El Salvador, led to the successful prosecution of members of the Salvadoran military and helped pave the way for U.N. Peace Accords in 1992 and democratic elections in El Salvador. After the civil war ended, Moakley focused on closing the School of the Americas (SOA) and providing relief aid to the country after a series of natural disasters in the late 1990s.
The Moakley Papers document Congressman Moakley’s efforts on behalf of El Salvador including immigration/asylum issues, human rights, attempts to reduce U.S. military aid to El Salvador, the signing of the 1992 Peace Accords, attempts to close the School of the Americas (SOA) and relief efforts after a series of natural disasters in the late 1990s.
Note: This is a small selection of digitized records; to see all digitized items from the Moakley papers, search the Archives Catalog using the following search terms: MS100 digitized.
Audio recordings and transcripts of oral history interviews are available on the Moakley Oral History Project page. Below are some selected oral history transcripts related to El Salvador.
Armstrong, Robert and Shenk, Janet, El Salvador: The Face of Revolution. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1982.
Arnson, Cynthia J., Crossroads: Congress, The President, and Central America, 1976-1993. New York: Pantheon Books, 1989. [Sawyer Library F1436.8.U6 A76 1989]
Arnson, Cynthia J., El Salvador Accountability and Human Rights: The Report of the United Nations Commission on the Truth for El Salvador. New York: Americas Watch, August 10, 1993.
Arnson, Cynthia J., El Salvador: A Revolution Confronts the United States. Institute for Policy Studies and Transnational Institute, 1982. [Sawyer Library F1488.A76]
Doggett, Martha. Death foretold: the Jesuit murders in El Salvador. Washington, D.C. : Georgetown University Press, c1993 [Moakley Archives HV6535.S2 D64 1993]
LeoGrande, William. Our own backyard: the United States in Central America, 1977-1992. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. [Sawyer Library F1436.8.U6 L453 1998]
Lungo, Mario Uclés. El Salvador in the Eighties: Counterinsurgency and Revolution. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996. [Sawyer Library F1488.3 .L8713 1996]
Rose, Lance. El Salvador’s Decade of Terror: Human Rights Since the Assassination of Archbishop Romero / Americas Watch. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991. [Sawyer Library JC599.S2 E42 1991]
Stephen, Lynn. Hear My Testimony: The Story of María Teresa Tula, Human Rights Activist of El Salvador. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1994. [Sawyer Library JC599.S22 TB5 1994]
Whitfield, Theresa. Paying the Price: Ignacio Ellacuria and the Murdered Jesuits of El Salvador. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994. [Moakley Archives F1488.3.W48 1994]
Enemies of War, Esther Cassidy. [Moakley Archives F1488.3E54 1999]
Romero, [Sawyer Library PN1997.R664 2002]
El Salvador in Crisis, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. [Moakley Archives F1488.3.E58 1989]
I am not Afraid: Rufina Amaya’s Testimony, Alfalfa Grafics. [Moakley Archives F1488.3.A5 2007]
Citations to articles about El Salvador can be found by searching on, among others, Westlaw, Lexis, Legaltrac and Wilson’s Index to Legal Periodical databases.
Temporary Suspension of Deportation of Certain Aliens, Hearings on H.R. 4447: Before the Subcommittee on the Judiciary House of Representatives, 98th Cong. 2d Sess. 42 (1984). Law Microforms: CIS 84 H521-45
H.R. 4447 Moakley- DeConcini Bill: 98th Congress (introduced Nov. 17, 1983) linked with S. 2131 (introduced by Sen. DeConcicni) Title: A bill to provide for the temporary suspension of deportation for certain aliens who are nationals of El Salvador, and to provide for Presidential and Congressional review of conditions in El Salvador and for other purposes.
Extended Voluntary Departure Issues Hearings on § 377 Before the Subcommittee on Immigration Refugee Policy of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 99th Cong., 1st Sess. 111 (1985).
Temporary Suspension of Deportation for Nationals of Certain Countries: Hearing on H.R. 822: Before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and International Law of the Committee on the Judiciary, 99th Cong., 1st Sess., November 7, 1985. Law Microforms: CIS 86 H521-20
H.R. 822 Moakley- DeConcini Bill: 99th Congress (introduced Jan. 30, 1985) Sponsor: Rep. Moakley, John Joseph, linked with S. 377 (sponsored by Sen. DeConcicni) Title: A bill to provide for a General Accounting Office investigation and report on conditions of displaced Salvadorans, to provide certain rules of the House of Representatives and of the Senate with respect to review of the report, to provide for the temporary stay of detention and deportation of certain Salvadorans. Status: Not passed
Resolution of inquiry concerning the 1980 slayings of four American churchwomen in El Salvador adverse report (to accompany H. Res. 464) Law Microforms: CIS 84 H383-3
H.R. 45 Moakley-DeConcini Bill: 101st Congress (introduced January 3, 1989) Sponsor: Rep. Moakley, John Joseph. Title: To provide for a General Accounting Office investigation and report on conditions of displaced Nicaraguans and Salvadorans, to provide certain rules of the House of Representatives and of the Senate with respect to review of the report, to provide for the temporary stay of detention and deportation of certain Nicaraguans and Salvadorans, and for other purposes. Latest Major Action: 11/3/1989 Referred to Senate Subcommittee. Not passed. Immigration Act of 1990: Conference Report (to accompany S. 358). Law Microforms: CIS 90 H523-39 also known as:
S. 358 Immigration Act of 1990: 101st Congress (introduced Feb. 17, 1989) Sponsor: Sen. Kennedy, Edward M. Title: A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to change the level, and preference system for admission, of immigrants to the United States, and to provide for administrative naturalization, and for other purposes. Latest Major Action: 11/29/1990 Signed by President, Public Law 101-649
H.R. 3506 Moakley-DeConcini Bill: 101st Congress (introduced October 23, 1989) Sponsor: Rep. Moakley, John Joseph. Title: To establish a statutory framework for the Attorney General to afford temporary protected status to nationals of countries subject to extraordinary and temporary conditions, including armed conflicts, to provide for certain studies and for congressional review of such studies, to provide temporary transition protection for nationals of certain countries, and for other purposes. Latest Major Action: 10/24/1989 Referred to House Subcommittee.
H. AMDT. 459 to H.R. 4636: 101st Congress (introduced May 22, 1990) Sponsor: Rep. Moakley, John Joseph Amendment Description: Amendment provided for the withholding of 50% of the military assistance authorized for El Salvador; added conditions on aid to El Salvador including the elimination of assistance if military or security forces engaged in acts of violence against civilian targets; required the approval of the President of El Salvador before any military assistance could be delivered to the Armed Forces; and authorized $2 million for the Support Democracy program for election voter registration and monitoring. Latest Major Action: 5/22/1990 House amendment agreed to. Status: On agreeing to Moakley amendment (A005). Agreed to by recorded vote: 250-163 (Roll no. 127). Not passed.
H. Res. 531: 101st Congress (introduced October 25, 1990) Sponsor: Rep. Moakley, John Joseph. Waiving certain points of order against consideration of the conference report on the bill (S. 358) to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to change the level, and preference system for admission, of immigrants to the United States, and to provide for administrative naturalization, and for other purposes, and against its consideration. Latest Major Action: 10/26/1990 Failed of passage/ not agreed to in House.
Extension of Application Deadline for Special Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans: Report Together with Dissenting Views (to accompany H.R. 2332) Law Microforms: CIS 91 H523-5
H. R. 2332: 101st Congress (introduced October 25, 1990) Sponsor: Rep. Moakley, John Joseph. Title: To amend the Immigration Act of 1990 to extend for 4 months the application deadline for special temporary protected status for Salvadorans. Latest Major Action: Passed Public Law 102-65 on July 2, 1991
H. R. 3782: 102nd Congress (introduced November 14, 1991) Sponsor: Rep. Moakley, John Joseph. Title: To promote peace and reconciliation in El Salvador. Latest Major Action: 11/20/1991 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Arms Control, International Security and Science.
H. R. 732: 106th Congress (introduced February 11, 1999) Sponsor: Rep. Moakley, John Joseph. Title: To close the United States Army School of the Americas. Latest Major Action: 2/23/1999 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Executive Comment Requested from DOD.
H. AMDT.368 to H.R. 2606: 106th Congress (introduced September 29, 1999) Sponsor: Rep. Moakley, John Joseph. Amendment Description: Amendment prohibits any funding for the United States Army School of the Americas located at Fort Benning, Georgia. Latest Major Action: 7/30/1999 House amendment agreed to by recorded vote: 230-197 (Roll no. 352)
H. AMDT.723 to H.R. 4205: 106th Congress (introduced May 18, 2000) Sponsor: Rep. Moakley, John Joseph. Amendment Description: Amendment sought to require the Army to close the United States Army School of the Americas. Latest Major Action: 5/18/2000 House amendment not agreed to. Status: On agreeing to the Moakley amendment (A010) Failed by recorded vote: 204 -214