Jennifer Jean Casolo, who worked in El Salvador for Texas-based Christian Education Seminars, was arrested on November 26, 1989, and falsely accused of harboring weapons for leftist rebels. She was kept in Salvadoran police custody for 17 days before being released. Below are her reflections on a part of that experience, given at a service in New York City's Riverside Church on January 7, 1990. -- The Editors
I WAS INTERROGATED A VARIETY OF times, but I want to share with you my third interrogation. This is a faith journey. It may not teach you a lot more about El Salvador, but it will teach you why the people there are able to hope against hope in the face of death.
I ask you to remember that, unlike the Salvadorans who are in the barracks of the National Police, I had all of your prayers behind me. I had the blue passport behind me. I had the pressure laid upon the government of the United States and then relied upon the National Police to ensure that my life be protected. So I wasn't beaten. And I was rarely blindfolded.
Imagine being blindfolded like a Salvadoran; the only thing you know about the interrogation booth is that the walls are fuzzy. They call them the "hairy rooms. " Each is 6 feet by 6 feet, and there are about eight in a row. They're carpeted with shag carpeting for soundproofing.
For four days and four nights I had heard the sounds on one side and the other in the adjacent booths. I heard moans and cries. I heard flesh hitting furniture. I heard flesh hitting flesh. I heard screams, muffled of course. I heard choking. I heard vomiting.