Members of the Salvadoran community in Los Angeles realized a long-awaited dream Saturday when groundbreaking began on a plaza to honor Msgr. Oscar A. Romero, a Catholic archbishop who was slain in 1980 during El Salvador's civil war.
Romero, an outspoken advocate for the poor and a revered figure for many Central Americans, was shot while celebrating Mass by an assassin with suspected ties to right-wing government security forces.
El Salvador's bloody 12-year civil war claimed tens of thousands of lives and sparked an exodus of Salvadorans.
The new plaza is in MacArthur Park at 7th and Alvarado streets in the Westlake neighborhood.
"MacArthur Park has a lot of history and a lot of memories for the Central American community," said Carlos Vaquerano, executive director of the Salvadoran American Leadership & Educational Fund. The nonprofit organization has been overseeing the project, which was first envisioned about seven years ago.
Vaquerano, 52, who said he fled his country after his three brothers were killed by death squads, was among hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans who settled in places such as Los Angeles, Houston and the Washington, D.C., area during the 1980s.