News / Culture

Welcome to Oscar A. Romero Square

Hey, L.A. You’ve got a new street name.

Last week, the L.A. city council passed a motion to rename the corner of South Vermont Avenue and west Pico Boulevard in the Pico-Union district as Msgr. Oscar A. Romero Square. The move was applauded by the district’s Central American immigrant population including many who fled El Salvador during its civil war.

Msgr. Romero was Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 until his assassination in March 1980. Romero, known as “the voice of the voiceless (la voz de los sin voz),” fought for the rights of the poor in El Salvador who were being mistreated, tortured and murdered by government forces of the Junta Revolucionaria de Gobierno; he was a champion of “liberation theology,” a controversial school of Catholic thought that suggests, basically, that the poor, oppressed, and disenfranchised should stand up for themselves and for justice rather than just being meek and pious and waiting for things to be better in Heaven. He was also, like Martin Luther King Jr., an advocate of non-violence. Unfortunately, his assassination and the massacre at his funeral were events that helped spark the country’s 12-year civil war.

Puerto Rican actor Raul Julia portrayed Romero in a 1989 film and there is also a clinic in L.A. named after him (Clinica Romero) that serves the poor and uninsured.