Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Department Name when Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Todd Hartch

Department Affiliation



In order to highlight the complicity of the American government, this thesis will discuss in depth the most important massacre perpetrated by the Salvadoran military. While the American government maintained publicly that respect for human rights was one of the main goals of its mission in El Salvador, the six billion dollars of aid and American actions in the region belied another reality. This examination argues that it is clear that the massacre at El Mozote in late 1981 was the direct result of U.S. foreign policy initiatives. Although the Americans kept themselves insulated to provide for plausible deniability, the policies of the Carter and Reagan administrations institutionalized the murder of civilians as a necessary element of American foreign policy in El Salvador.