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August 25, 1989 (United States)

Romero is a 1989 American biographical film depicting the story of Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero, who organized peaceful protests against the violent military regime, eventually at the cost of his own life. The film stars Raúl Juliá as Oscar Romero, Richard Jordan as Romero's close friend and fellow martyred priest, Rutilio Grande, as well as actors Ana Alicia and Harold Gould. Although the film depicts true events, there are some fictional characters.


During the 1977 El Salvadoran presidential election, public unrest is at an all-time high over fears of election fraud. In the midst of a guerrilla uprising, the military regime sends death squads to detain, torture and kill anyone who speaks out against its terrible human rights record. The military also prevents average citizens from getting to the polls; soldiers are shown blocking a bus bringing people to town on election day. When the people decide to walk, the military shoots up their vans so that they have no transportation for the return journey.

The Vatican elevates conservative yet reserved Oscar Arnulfo Romero (Raul Julia) to the position of Archbishop of San Salvador, hoping that with he will not get involved in the military dispute. Although apolitical, Romero is afraid of the government's increasing hostility. He initially refrains from stirring anti-government sentiments, but progressively, as he spends more time in his post, he sees evidence of deception, oppression, and systemic murder, after which he cannot support the government in good conscience and speaks out. After the assassination of Father Rutilio Grande (Richard Jordan), an outspoken Jesuit advocate for the poor and close friend of Father Romero's, Romero begins to take a stand against the government's policies, prompting the death squads to begin targeting priests.

After failing to rescue a pro-government hostage of the guerrillas in a botched ransom, Romero discovers that his friend Father Osuna (Alejandro Bracho), a militant critic of the ruling regime, has been captured and tortured. After securing his release, Romero instigates a boycott of the president-elect's inauguration, defying him by taking Mass in a church the military has taken over as a barracks. He later attempts to secure the release of a soldier taken hostage by Osuna and the guerrillas, but is arrested in the process. Osuna is subsequently tortured to death.

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