"We're Making a Killing in Central America." Mark Vallen 1989. Pencil on paper. 13" x 21" inches

Artist's statement:

"In 1989 I created the pencil drawing titled 'We're Making A Killing In Central America.' The image depicts two of the many thousands of innocent civilians who were tortured and murdered in Central America during the bloody conflicts of the 1980s (more text below image).

Drawing by Mark Vallen

There was an upsurge of extra-judicial killings in Central America during the late 1970s, when government forces and right-wing death squads in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador began annihilating opposition groups and individuals by way of kidnapping and assassination. My drawing was indirectly inspired by the November 16, 1989, murder of six Jesuit priests carried out by the Salvadoran army. The priests, which included the rector and vice rector of El Salvador’s esteemed Central American University, were taken from their beds in an early morning army raid on a home in the capital of San Salvador. They were brutally tortured and then shot in the head. The priest’s home keeper and her 15-year-old daughter were also viciously murdered by the soldiers.

I was so outraged by this bloody crime that I was moved to create my drawing that same year - the work’s title alluding to U.S. government complicity in arming, training, and financing the very soldiers responsible for slaughtering the innocents. But rather than depicting a well known case, I wanted to memorialize the anonymous masses who had fallen victim to the para-military death squads. We may never know the names of all the victims of state sponsored torture and murder in Central America - but we can work to assure that justice will at last find their killers."

Read about the 2009 exhibit this work was featured in.

Read about Vallen's related artwork, Voices of Justice. is owned and operated by Mark Vallen © All artworks and text by Mark Vallen.