December 2, 1980
Four missionaries are kidnapped, beaten, raped, and murdered by El Salvador National Guard soldiers
The victims were Maura Clarke (49, New York), Ita Ford (40, New York), Dorothy Kazel (40, Cleveland), and Jean Donovan (27, Cleveland). Originally, the Salvadoran government claimed the women were victims of a robbery. However, in 1984 4 National Guardsmen were arrested and convicted of the murders, each sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The alleged motive of the attack an assassination order from the El Salvador government who resented the nuns working with the poor which was seen as a criticism of the military regime’s treatment of those in poverty.
The murders were the source of controversy in the US who initially stopped financial and military aid to El Salvador after the murders only to resume shortly after. In the following years, the Reagan administration increased support to the country to repress rebels fighting against the military regime which was heavily criticized by political opponents and human rights activists.