SAN SALVADOR – Salvador police said on Friday that they expect up to 40,000 people to attend events in the capital this weekend celebrating the canonization in Rome of slain Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero.
“We guarantee the security of the more than 30,000 or 40,000 who will be gathering,” said Vladimir Rivas, head of public safety in San Salvador.
The deployment of the 550 police and 120 soldiers and municipal constables assigned to provide security for the celebration began Friday morning.
Among the activities planned is a procession Saturday from the Savior of the World Plaza, where Romero was beatified in May 2015, to the Metropolitan Cathedral.
The “pilgrimage of light” is to be followed by an open-air Mass, a concert and a vigil that will extend into the wee hours of Sunday, when the live broadcast of the Vatican canonization ceremony will be shown on giant screens.
Known as “the voice of the voiceless” for his advocacy on behalf of human rights and the poor, Romero was killed on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass.
The killers were part of one of the right-wing death squads that played a major role in the Central American nation’s 1980-1992 civil war.
A post-conflict truth commission concluded that the assassination was ordered by army Maj. Roberto D’Aubuisson (1943-1992), founder of the right-wing ARENA party that governed El Salvador from 1989-2009.