Video Presentation Screened 10/17/99, at Martín-Baró Fund, Annual Fall Event Copyright 1999, Ignacio Martín-Baró Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights

Reading: Dear Nacho – I have wanted to put into words the feelings of loss and pain that are still not far from the surface when I think of you, and my outrage at the act of violence wrought against you and your brothers and sisters of El Salvador. I think of the deep personal loss, of the loss to our profession – but then I think of the incredible and multiple ways in which you have inspired the work that I continue to do. I miss you daily, and mourn the loss of your laugh, your music, your intellect, and your passionate commitment to the people of El Salvador. I celebrate the gift of your life and the moments we were able to share – and I continue to share them, as I meet folks in many parts of the globe who were deeply marked by your physical presence in their lives and by your legacy in your writings. -- M. Brinton Lykes, Professor of Psychology

Remembering Nacho

Ignacio Martín-Baró, a Jesuit priest and social psychologist, dedicated his life to healing the scars of war and oppression, and to promoting human rights.

Martín-Baró (from "Question of Conscience"): This kind of events came after a continuous campaign of defamation and blaming the University and the Jesuit priests who work here for the evils that happen in the country.

On November 16, 1989, Martín-Baró, five of his Jesuit brothers, their caretaker, and her daughter were murdered, because of their opposition to state-sponsored violence and repression in El Salvador.

Reading: When we think of Ignacio, we remember his compassion for others and his disdain for privilege and elitism; his passion for justice and his indignation at the dehumanization of the poor; his courage in publicly condemning exploitation, but his willingness to seek reconciliation; his critique of institutional psychology, coupled with his commitment to liberating our profession. Most vividly, we remember the friendship of his guitar and song. These have become part of our family identity. They are memories we share with a broad community of others, many of them strangers to each other, but connected through the good fortune of having known Ignacio. -- Ramsay and Joan Liem, Professors of Psychology

Martín-Baró (interview): People learn that the only way, the only effective way, to achieve your life goals under present conditions is through the use of violence. So the use of violence is continuously reinforced in a situation of civil war, and in a situation in which those in power use their power as they wish, and without any interference, and with absolute impunity. So that is learned by our children. Our children are socialized into violence.

Reading: Ten years have passed since the assassination of Ignacio Martín-Baró in El Salvador, during the final year of a bloody civil war. His thinking was part of a critique of the ‘scientific’ models of social psychology – part of the search to develop a psychology on the basis of concrete problems within the social realities in which he lived and worked. Latin American psychology lost one of its greatest thinkers, and we lost an irreplaceable friend. His absence leaves a vacuum and, at the same time, a challenge -- that of continuing the work he began. -- Elizabeth Lira, Chilean psychologist

Martín-Baró (interview): Human relations are conceived more and more in terms of either dominance or submission, of power or powerlessness, of violence or, you know, complete compliance. So the human relations in our country tend to become less and less humanizing. There is, you know, a clearcut situation in which either you behave in a way or you have to accept, you know, dangerous consequences for your life.

Reading: When my sister and I were ten or eleven years old, Ignacio came to a meeting of psychologists at our home in Brookline. Only vaguely aware of the topics being discussed, we became bored. Ignacio, attentive as always to the needs of others – even young children – brought us into the gathering with a guitar and songs of his country and its struggles. More recently I have read Ignacio's writings. I now see this gentle man not only as a singer of songs and soother of children, but also as a brave fighter, whose theory for the practice of psychology is filled both with compassion and with the forceful demand that oppression and inequality no longer be allowed to threaten the health of the people of El Salvador, and of the world. -- Jessica Liem, Student

Salvadoran Woman (from "Question of Conscience"): Father Nacho, we’ll never forget him in all the communities, because for us he was a good priest. He never went outside the limit, because what the fathers explain is never outside the word of God. They get it all from the Bible and, well, we don’t understand everything in the Bible – that would be difficult – but we do see that the life we live now is the life that Christ suffered.

Reading: Nacho was my Social Psychology professor. I remember him speaking about serious matters concerning ethics within the field of Psychology, while throwing pieces of chalk at those students who seemed distracted during his class. I was a political prisoner for one week, and Nacho was the one who used his influence to get me out of jail. Nacho’s memory is a sweet sting in my heart, always inviting me to remain committed to the poor and needy. -- Diana Avila, Salvadoran Student, Refugee

Reading: Ignacio visited us in 1989, on a trip to get the American people to ‘stop sending bullets’ to the Salvadoran military. Despite the urgency of that mission, he patiently and enthusiastically met with my psychology colleagues to talk about doing socially-responsible research. He spoke openly and calmly about knowing that his life was in danger, but insisted that given who he was, his work simply had to be done. This embodiment of courage, purpose, and selflessness will always remain clearly impressed on my mind and heart. -- Tod Sloan, Psychologist

Martín-Baró (interview): This University has been fighting all the time and struggling all the time – through academic means, which means through research, through teaching, through speaking, through what we call social projection – to analyze the situation of the country, to say the truth, you know, the truth that we find through scientific means about the country, about the social actors, about the social forces, about the policies, about the future, about the needs of the population and so on. And, to look after reasonable solutions to the problems of this country, always taking as a basic criterion the basic needs of the of the majority of the Salvadoran people… Now, that does not please, obviously, those in power and those who have power in this country, and we have to suffer the consequences of our academic option… We are willing to accept those consequences.

Father Jon Sobrino (from "Question of Conscience"): These are the reflections that come to my mind in connection with the murder of my six brother Jesuits: It is important to know who killed them, but more important to know why it was possible to murder them with such impunity before, during and after the event. It is important to investigate the murders of the past, but much more important once and for all to stop murders happening in the future. It is important to solve notorious murders, but more important to clear up the mass murder of peasants who die anonymously. It is important that justice be done to my brother Jesuits in death, but much more important to keep them among us by putting to full use their achievements in life.

Reading: When I remember Martín-Baró, I will not imagine the picture of him on my book cover. Instead, I will remember the faces of the campesinos for whom he died. I will imagine the face of a dark-skinned man with lines deeply etched over time. He will not have an education, he will not be able to read or write, nor will he quote Kierkegaard or Saint Augustine. The hands and feet of the Baró I will remember will be dirty and callused from working in the fields. His eyes will light up when you ask him about land reform, but then slowly descend at the thought that the land he tends is not his own. My mind will not focus on the man who wrote eloquently and passionately of social justice and psychological oppression. Instead, this day I will focus on where Baró asked me to focus – on the men and women of the field. -- Mona Devich-Navarro, doctoral student


Remembrances of Ignacio Martín-Baró read by members of the Program Committee, Ignacio Martín-Baró Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights.

Scenes from A Question of Conscience, by Ilan Ziv, used by courtesy of First Run Features, New York, (800) 488-6652