Tracy L. Barnett
LA FLORIDA, El Salvador – “That’s one of the purposes of the Salvadoran state, to make us forget,” Juan Rojas explains to me as we bump down the rugged dirt road that leads to his homestead, just six kilometers from San Salvador, but a world apart.
By Tracy L. Barnett
SUCHITOTO, El Salvador – A gentle breeze ruffles the thatched roof of the hilltop shelter here at the Permaculture Institute. An electric-blue morpho butterfly flits past, a sharp accent against the muted blue of Volcano Guazapa in the background. An incongruously peaceful backdrop for the violence, massacres, scorched earth and forced evacuation that razed this region less than two decades ago.
That mountain, the hideout for guerilla forces for miles around, was bombed daily and burned repeatedly; the town of Suchitoto itself became a battlefield. Hundred of tons of artillery, white phosphorus and napalm rained down on the once lush jungles of these lands, drying up even the springs where people once retrieved their water.
But the Earth has a way of healing herself, and her inhabitants, and this land and the people who work it are living proof of that reality. Continue reading
SAN SALVADOR – I have great hopes for this little country on the Pacific Coast, this country of volcanic landscapes and volatile history – a country whose name means The Savior. I am curious to learn what the crucible of revolution may have wrought on the human spirit here. Much has been written of the Maras, the gangs with roots in the paramilitary death squads and in the barrios of Los Angeles and Houston and New York, and their ruthless exploits throughout the country – for the record, I haven’t seen any yet.
Far less has been written of the revolutionaries who turned their passion for justice into grassroots movements for change.
COATEPEQUE LAKE, El Salvador – The palms are swaying restlessly in the electric darkness, waiting for the storm to arrive. Lightning flashes over Santa Ana Volcano on the far side of the lake; just a few minutes ago I was walking along the shore with Elmer, catching the last bits of sunset over the lake.
He sensed the storm coming before I did. “Ya viene el agua,” he said. Literally, “Now the water is coming.” The timing couldn’t have been more perfect; rainy season notwithstanding, El Salvador gifted me with a blue sky my first full day in the country, perfect for visiting the pyramids of Tazumal and Casa Blanca, then catching a bus to this sparkling expanse of blue amid the volcanoes.
Story and photos by Tracy L. Barnett
SAN ISIDRO, Cabañas, El Salvador – We arrived in this tiny mountain community to find Father Neftali Ruíz at the head of a march for justice, with Father Luis Quintanilla and Bishop Gabriel Orellana not far behind. They were wearing white robes with brightly woven vestments draped around their necks, an influence from El Salvador’s indigenous past, much like the vestments worn by Archbishop Oscar Romero and the Jesuit priests who were assassinated during the civil war for their defense of human rights. I thought of those priests’ garments, some of them bullet-ridden and stained with blood, on display at the Oscar Romero Center in San Salvador. But these fathers showed the truth in the Romero quote on banners and T-shirts all over the country: “If I die, I will be reborn among my people.” Continue reading