Mark David Pearlman, an attorney with the AFL-CIO’s Latin American arm, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), was assassinated in El Salvador, along with Michael Peter Hammer, director of Land Reform Programs, and José Rodolfo Viera, head of the Salvadoran Farm Workers’ Union, on this date in 1981. The three were working on a land reform program and were shot dead in the dining room of the Sheraton Hotel in San Salvador. Their murderers, low-level members of El Salvador’s National Guard, had been trained at America’s notorious School of the Americas at Fort Benning, South Carolina Georgia, and were obeying orders from a group of right-wing Salvadoran businessmen and political leaders. The two were released from prison after only one year during a general amnesty.
“The murder of Michael Hammer and the other two men occurred in the context of numerous government-inspired death squad atrocities, including the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero (March 1980), the murder of four U.S. churchwomen (November 1980) and the El Mozote Massacre (1980) where more than 900 villagers were killed.” —School of the America Watch