Due to the increased repression under the dictatorships of Molina and H. Romero, during which hundreds of persons were assassinated or disappeared, mothers began to organize separately looking for answers about their children or spouses.
On the 24th of December, the recently appointed Archbishop, Monsignor Romero, called the various groups together to a dinner council and encouraged us to unify into one voice. Thus the committee COMADRES was formed by the first members: Maria Teresa Tula, Alicia Garcia, Angelita Carranza, Antonia Mendoza ( president), Ana Cristina Interiano, Alicia Zelayandia, Sofia Escamilla, Mirian Granados (deceased), Etelvina Cristales, Alicia Nerio, Transito Ramirez, and Angelita De Madriz.
During this period the number of disappeared and assassinated persons was increasing dramatically, and COMADRES was working hard going into the streets each morning to photograph the bodies for later identification. Close to a thousand a month appeared in this period. These pictures were kept in the office of COMADRES and in Catholic churches became the only possibility of closure for families with lost loved ones.
In February, they created the Commission on Clandestine Graves, a project that helped uncover masses of skulls and body parts, many identified as relatives of the committee.
In March, the Monsignor was assassinated by a government sponsored hit squad, and the group added the "Monsignor Romero" to the end of the groups name, honoring the man who had struggled so hard for the poor and abused.
By this time, the government began to see COMADRES as a threat, and for the second time paramilitary groups under the sanction of the government and the founder of the ARENA party, Roberto D'Aubuisson, hit the headquarters with an explosive device.
D'Aubuisson declares publicly that COMADRES will be have all their throats cut, one by one, until they were finished. Programs for orphans and widows of the conflict became a large component of COMADRES work.
More bombs, sacking of the office, and the kidnap and torture of the COMADRES and their families, multiple times in most cases. In 1989 7 members were taken by the Armed Forces, and only released after international pressure. Pictures and documents pertaining to the human rights violations collected by COMADRES was duplicated and hidden to prevent their destruction or confiscation.
As the war turned against ARENA, the group presented petitions to the Assembly regarding Freedom of Political Prisoners, and the Clearing of 8 Thousand names from the Missing lists. They marched in protest when any group was detained, and formed a rapid reaction committee which saved many students and other detainees by alerting the international community within hours of a detention. Also, COMADRES encouraged dialogue between government members and FMLN (Opposition) forces. Finally, the Peace Accords were signed, and COMADRES was in the Grand Plaza on the 16th of January, with the thousands celebrating the impending reforms.
The right wing government allowed the murders to continue in this time of transition, including the assassination of Juan Carlos Garcia, 16, upon his leaving the COMADRES offices after painting mural there. Also, the Petition to free political prisoners was perverted and used to declare an amnesty for the military and paramilitary groups who had perpetrated the murders and massacres in El Salvador.
MURAL in COMADRES office by the slain 16 year old, Juan Carlos Garcia.