Enemies of War

The 1989 assassination of six Jesuit priests unravels the political corruption embedded in El Salvador's civil war.

Premiere Date
January 18, 2001
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2000 Latin American Studies Association -Award of Merit in Film
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2000 Chicago International Television Competition-Certificate of Merit
  • Producer

    Esther Cassidy

    Before making Enemies of War, Cassidy was a coordinating producer of Barbara Kopple’s 1990 Academy Award-winning feature documentary film American Dream, producer with Kopple of the 1997 With Liberty and Justice for All (Part I and II), and co-producer of Civil Rights the Struggle Continues. She was also series associate producer of The Question of Equality, an ITVS documentary series broadcast on PBS stations in the United States, and broadcast and released theatrically in England. In addition, Cassidy was associate producer of the 1995 Sundance Film Festival Audience Choice Award winner, Ballot Measure 9; the 1991 documentary Casting the First Stone, broadcast on P.O.V.; and On the Bridge, acclaimed film director Frank Perry’s documentary film. Cassidy was also consulting producer of the Peabody Award-winning A Healthy Baby Girl, also broadcast on P.O.V. She worked on An American Love Story, the award-winning 1999 American Playhouse documentary series. Currently, Cassidy is producing The Case of Edward Lee Elmore, about an innocent man on South Carolina death row, and The Land of Hope and Freedom, a documentary about the struggle of two immigrant women to free their brother from an unjust detention.


    Rob Kuhns

    Rob Kuhns has 15 years of film editing experience. He produced, wrote and directed the half-hour film King’s Day Out, which premiered at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, was broadcast in France, Ireland, Sweden, and on WTTW’s series, Image Union, as well as part of the Dallas Video Festival’s Best of the Decade Series, and at 15 film festivals around the world. Among his many credits are The Politics of Addiction for Bill Moyers, The Rosenberg File: Case Closed (Discovery Channel, Emmy winner for Best Use of Archival Footage) and Adam Clayton Powell (nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 1990). As a playwright, his pieces The Flickering Blue Glow and Assassins Have Starry Eyes were performed at the Soho Repertory Theatre Company in New York City. Kuhns has also written a feature screenplay, Double-0 Love.

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    The Film

    For nearly a decade, El Salvador had been experiencing the cruel intensity of civil war, a conflict reportedly fueled by billions of dollars in aid from the United States government. Then, in 1989, an unspeakable crime occurred, one that would shock the international community and eventually lead a nation towards peace. Enemies of War examines the horrific murders of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter, and the subsequent political and social ramifications as seen through the eyes of a Salvadoran family, a United States congressman, an ex-ambassador, and an American priest.Enemies of War, shot on location in El Salvador, Mexico City and Washington, D.C., looks at the war from the perspective of civilians like Margarita Acosta de Alas. This Salvadoran mother of five explains how her husband Rigoberto fought with the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) rebels. She shares a story of high drama, a life on the run, forced separations from her husband, and narrow escapes from the Salvadoran army’s bombing and infantry attacks. She speaks of the atrocities perpetrated by her government’s army, killing citizens, pregnant women, and children.

    United States Congressman Joe Moakley, appalled by the brutal murders of the Jesuits and responding to an international outcry, led a task force to investigate the deaths. His investigation began an international process that actually led to the end of the war and the beginning of a profound change for El Salvador.

    Father Dean Brackley, an American Jesuit priest, traveled to El Salvador in early 1990 to fill the teaching position at the University of Central America left vacant by the murder of one of the Jesuits. He wanted to continue the Jesuit tradition of teaching the poor to demand and expect basic human rights.

    Enemies of War examines the historic Peace Accords of 1992 and the findings of the U.N. Truth Commission on El Salvador.Enemies of War explains how ordinary people made extraordinary contributions to one of the boldest experiments in recent memory - the creation of peace in a land that for years had only known war.