El Salvador names street for slain archbishop Romero

SAN SALVADOR - El Salvador's Roman Catholic archbishop assassinated in 1980 for speaking out against brutal government repression got a special honour Sunday, with the dedication of a key new avenue in his name.

Monsenor Oscar Arnulfo Romero Street, a new boulevard in the west of the capital, San Salvador, connects the city with neighbouring city Santa Tecla.

"Today we once again pay public tribute to the man who died so that thousands and millions could live," said President Mauricio Funes in a ceremony inaugurating the new street.

San Salvador's auxiliary bishop, Gregorio Rosa Chavez, thanked the president for "his admiration and respect for the pastor who gave his life for all Salvadorans, even those who plotted and executed the most ignominious crime in our history."

Romero, considered a voice for the voiceless in his denunciations of social injustice and military repression, was assassinated by a sniper hired by the far-right government on March 24, 1980.

His murder - while celebrating Sunday mass - ignited El Salvador's devastating civil war that pitted a US-backed right-wing government and military against a leftist insurgency that produced the leaders now in elected office.

Some 75,000 people were killed before the war ended in 1992.

When US President Barack Obama visited El Salvador in 2009, he made a stop at Romero's tomb, later calling the archbishop "an inspiration to people all around the world."

Romero's story was also made into a Hollywood film in 1989, starring Raul Julia as the slain priest.

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