'This Community Has Suffered Right?:' The Origins of La Mantanza and Historical Memory in El Salvador

A Review of:

To Rise in Darkness: Revolution, Repression, and Memory in El Salvador, 1920-1932
By Jeffery Gould
(Duke University Press, 2009)

Remembering a Massacre in El Salvador: The Insurrection of 1932, Roque Dalton and the Politics of Historical Memory
By Héctor Lindo-Fuentes, Erik Ching and Rafael A. Lara-Martínez
(University of New Mexico Press, 2007)

Matanza: El Salvador’s Communist Revolt of 1932
Thomas P. Anderson
(University of Nebraska Press, 1971)

aborder

‘This Community Has Suffered Right?:’
The Origins of La Mantanza and Historical Memory in El Salvador

Do you know what memory is? The stomach of the soul, someone wrongly called it. Though nobody is ever the first to give things a name. There is nothing by an infinity of repeaters. The only things ever invented are new errors. The memory of one person alone is useless.
-Augusto Roa Bastos

Introduction

“To be Salvadoran,” writes Héctor Lindo-Fuentes, “means knowing that something tremendous happened in 1932.” On 22 January, 1932, an insurrection widely seen as communist erupted in the western departments of Izalco, Ahuachapán and Sonsonate, among others. After the looting, the largely rural rebels moved from town to town, which brought the National Guard, under the command of General Maximiliano Hérnandez Martínez, who had taken power via a coup on 2 December, into the mountains and littered volcanoes, including one that erupted the day before. The ensuing clashes between the rebels and the armed Salvadoran granderos resulted in what is known today across Latin America and the world as la matanza – the massacre – in which the government of General Martínez systematically killed tens of thousands of rebels, mostly innocent peasants, over the course of a few months.

If one can move beyond the implanted stereotype of the generic, “communist” revolutionary guerrilla of the 1960s and 1970s, the rebels of 1932 were vastly different yet in some ways provided the ammunition for those generations. What were the origins of la matanza? Regarding democracy and development, historian Greg Grandin identifies the origins of twentieth-century Latin American social movements as peasants and urban workers fighting for freedom.

Rather than eliminating the boundaries between self and society, collective action distilled for many a more potent understanding of themselves as politically consequential individuals. Such insurgent individuality, I argue, was fundamentally necessary to the advancement of democracy, to the end of forced labor, and to the weakening of other forms of exploitation and domination. But this sense of agency was defined neither by radical autonomy nor by isolated freedom: rather, collective actions laid bare the social foundations of the self.

Understanding how peasants from only the western half of the country came to enact one of the largest insurrections of its time is extraordinary, as one will examine in material, organizational and ethnic explanations for the insurrection given by three scholars. Knowing how the insurrection came to being, it will become obvious why Martínez used “genocidal” force, to use Jeffery Gould’s term, to deal with their “communist” problem. From there, one will examine the historical memory of, not only the documentary evidence and witness accounts provided, but also the overall idea of the insurrection and the subsequent matanza. It is no hyperbole to assert that the trajectory of El Salvador continues to hinge upon 1932. It’s major parties carry the names and the traditions set in motion in 1932 (the FMLN takes the name from Farabundo Martí, leader of the Socorro Rojo and assassinated in 1932; ARENA prides itself on its repressive past, it’s anthem includes the line, “the tomb where the Reds will be buried”). El Salvador’s liminal period from 1932-1980 can be understood, as well as where the country will go in the future in the origins and memory of la matanza.

San Salvador, 1932

San Salvador, 1932

The Origins of the 1932 Insurrection

It is only appropriate to begin with one of the most famous accounts of 1932, Thomas P. Anderson’s Matanza: El Salvador’s Communist Revolt of 1932. Anderson’s work, nuanced despite being admittedly dated, follows a long tradition in Salvadoran study that links the insurrection of 1932 to communist agitation, more specifically international communist agitation. None of the authors deny the influence of communism in El Salvador, or in Central America, but its role, as one will see, is hardly emphasized as much as it is in Anderson’s, who for some time was the leading American scholar on la matanza.

Anderson’s account of 1932 followed a long line of scholarship that based the origins of 1932 in the hands solely of communism. This means that the role of the indigenous Salvadorans does not fit into the story despite his claim that “cultural antagonisms played a large part in the 1932 revolt.” Typically, Anderson viewed the direct international market fluctuations of the late 1920s as causing the main rifts of the ensuing insurrection. According to him:

When one combines all the reasons for peasant discontent – the breakdown of the ejidos, the miserable treatment of colonos and hired hands, the social problems and dislocation caused by the coffee economy, the cultural hostility between Indian and Ladino, and the class hostility between camespino and landowner – and then, when one adds to this the economic disaster of the depression, it is not hard to see the basis of the revolt of 1932. That some movement would arise that would seek to harness this discontent and provoke a rebellion was almost inevitable; that the movement would be communism was a fact dictated by events which began with the Russian Revolution, and which were part of a pattern in which El Salvador was an insignificant piece. (emphasis added)

From these revolts in the coffee sectors, came an increasing prevalence of communism in the countryside, specifically in the coffee growing western departments (which accounted for 90 percent of total exports in 1930). Thus, Anderson promotes “the Mexican agitator” Jorge Fernández Anaya, who headed the Salvadoran Communist Party (PCS) and Farabundo Martí, the head of Socorro Rojo (SRI), the international communist group that defended political el salvador san salvador 1932 destructionprisoners, into elite status as key origins of 1932. The main origin of the insurrection was “the deep antagonism between campesinos and the landed gentry” and no one could exploit the divide better, in Anderson’s eyes than these two men, who star prominently in his history.

Anderson ignores both indigenous agency as well as the role of the soon-to-be-consolidated dictatorship. Anderson highlights the geographic exceptions and limitations to organizing the masses in El Salvador. Incredibly, despite his belief that Martí called for and got his insurrection, he writes: “At the height of Martí’s activity, 75 percent of the population was completely apathetic politically…The activities of Martí and his followers mostly covered the area from Lake Ilopango westward to the border from the city of Santa Ana southward to the sea.” He warns readers that the PCS and SRI existed more on paper than real life.

Anderson, in turn, sees these limits as affecting those who overwhelmingly represented the rebels in January 1932, the indigenous population. Instead of granting them agency, as will be discussed below by in Gould and Lindo-Fuentes, he believed the Indians were struck dumb by “the fact that these Reds were linked to an international movement [which] must have greatly enhanced their status.” The Indians acted on the intentions of a brave yet unsuccessful man, Farabundo Martí, but had little voice or beliefs of their own. In highlighting communist causality, Anderson also misses the growing repression by General Martínez as well as his predecessor Arturo Araujo, in the months leading up to January 1932. “The general was clever enough to let events take their course,” Anderson writes, “and then to capitalize on the mistakes of others when the chance arose.” Thus, Indians and dictators were suppressed from the major “communist” narrative. As Martí called for the insurgency, it so happened.

Thomas Anderson, writing in the late 1960s, can be considered a traditional historian, looking for some kind of truth through sound historical methods and meticulous chronology. Héctor Lindo-Funtes (with Erik Ching and Rafael A. Lara-Martínez), in his book Remembering a Massacre in El Salvador, states, “What people think happened in the past can be just as important as what actually happened.” To Lindo-Fuentes, the study of 1932 borders on the strictly political and cannot be understood with the memories of survivors, right and left (as will be discussed below). Lindo-Fuentes saw a country, “concerned about ethnic conflict over land, regional patronage networks struggling for autonomy against a centralizing state and a nation-building program that suppressed ethnic diversity in the name of national unity.” So despite the erasure of ethnic identity, Lindo-Fuentes sees ethnicity as important to the story of 1932, although not as important as government instability and repression.

Lindo-Fuentes places Indians at the center of the story of la matanza. Beyond the economic origins of la matanza advanced by Anderson, of which all my authors agree, Lindo-Fuentes offers the usurpation of indigenous land in the late 1880s and laws against communal traditions aimed at the Indian population. “The expansion of exports and the consolidation of the central state went hand and hand,” according to Lindo-Fuentes. Original to Lindo-Fuentes’ work, he examines the work of poet Roque Dalton to show how Salvadorans conceived the origins of 1932 in the 1960s and 1970s and how the sources Dalton worked with, the scant amount of original detail on la matanza, influenced communist causality over other voices, namely indigenous ones. In examining his classic, Miguel Mármol, Lindo-Fuentes compares passages in Dalton’s 60 pages of notes used to write the testimonial and the resulting 500 page book to conclude that Dalton, who wrote in the 1970s, the first generation to have a real opportunity for education, perpetuated the sin of denying indigenous agency in favor of a class perspective. Through “narrative reconfiguration,” Lindo-Fuentes concluded that Dalton, and his generation following 1932, worked in the name of “communism and mestizaje” – and Dalton “heard what he wanted to hear from Mármol. In this regard, he was no different than any other interlocutor of history; his interpretive framework reflected the constitutive influences of various memory groups.” This was the view espoused by Thomas Anderson before Miguel Mármol came out – the prevailing theme of 1932 remained (until recently), that of communists, not Indians.

There is also something to be learned in the government response to 1932 that will illuminate the origins. Lindo-Fuentes saw the government’s massacres of peasants in the month following the insurrection as the result of an unstable regime teetering to power. He dismisses ethnocide (the genocide of ethnicity outright) but sees the “sheer sadism” of the military as well as the pressure on Martínez to prove to the US battleships anchored outside Salvador (it had plans for a ground invasion if the violence was not quelled) that it had its population under control. In these responses lie the true origins of the rebellion – the local organizations that provided a second power to General Martínez, the anti-imperialism that took hold to all sectors of Salvadoran civil society, and ideological challenges that Marxist-Leninist thought brought to the peasants of El Salvador. The ethnic issues and challenges to the new regimes power promoted the repression that followed and Martínez’s ensuing drive to “consolidate” his power.

Jeffery Gould’s To Rise in Darkness: Revolution, Repression, and Memory in El Salvador, 1920-1932 stands out among the rest. More so than Lindo-Fuentes, Gould emphasizes the role of indigenous people in 1932. And unlike Anderson and Lindo-Fuentes, Gould does not see a communist party calling for insurrection prematurely and marching towards an immediate death. He sees the insurrection as a triumph for indigenous agency by claiming, rather against the grain, that the SRI had influence in the west (despite Anderson’s geographical limitations and Lindo-Fuentes view that insurrection was bottom-up exercise) and it was the independent organizations that sprung up from the ideas propagated by the SRI that began the insurrection.

“The portrait of a closed, separate Indian world in the Salvadoran west is partial and problematic; ethnic identity was neither rigid nor castelike,” asserts Gould. “Most fundamentally, the perspective that posits a significant cultural gulf between communists and rural Indians and the stresses the autonomy of the rural Indian movement misses conversations across multiple, murky cultural divides.” Gould speaks at length about mestizaje, the nation-building tool that emphasized the blending of race (and culture) into one movement – in this case, the emphasis of class over race. Gould is very critical of these methods and saw them as something that, after 1932, served as a wedge that existed into the 1980s civil war. But in the 1930s, it was Indians protesting daily for wage increases. Gould quotes a reporter at a strike in 1930: “the movement was promoted by the peones, colonos, and terrajeros of that hacienda; they were demanding a wage increase. Really, the martyrs and some educated people have confused every act of protest with communism.” (One terrateniente [land holder] in Nahuizalco in 1931, stated: “There are no Indians who aren’t Communists.”) Even in early 1931, Gould shows the skepticism of some Salvadorans before la matanza of the hysteria of communism, amplified by the oncoming Cold War.

Gould uses Anderson’s general definition of the Indians in Salvador: “Perhaps the best method is to say, Indian is as Indian does. That is to say those who follow Indian customs are Indians.” Like Lindo-Fuentes, Gould uses the events of 1932 – the massacre – to illuminate the origins, namely the racism inherent in ladinos at the time. Gould believes that the insurrection of 1932 culminated in a genocide against Indians of El Salvador because of the deeply embedded structural defects of the Salvadoran state; an origin of the insurrection. “There is no question that the military regime of Martínez fostered the mass killings through direct orders, or that racism conditioned those orders and their execution” and although there were no plans for genocide, Martínez knew his actions would devastate Indian community. Thus, because of this response to the insurrection and the attempted elimination of indios, the state had extended grievances against the indigenous population leading to the insurrection and la matanza.

Leaving this aside, mestizaje was powerful in the 1920s and 1930s and most Indians thought in class terms and in rough sketches of Marxist-Leninist thought. For Gould, however, he sees the summer and fall of 1931-32 as essential for understanding the insurrection. On 17 May 1931, a revolt took place that “at once revealed and concealed the deepening of an ethnic dimension to the mass mobilization. The majority of the demonstrators were Indians, yet both the left and the authorities tended to group rural Indians and ladinos into one ‘campesino’ category.” Yet as mentioned above, the term campesino had an “egalitarian” meaning inclusive of all sectors of the working class. Thus, in terms of organization, Indians and ladinos began to work as one. The same thing occurred after Farabundo Martí’s famous hunger strike on 9 May 1931 and after the fraudulent elections of early January of 1932 – Indians and ladinos came together to form bonds (albeit based on class) that led El Salvador quickly into rebellion.

One of the arguments of the book [argues Gould] is that leftist movement succeeded precisely because they subverted the sharp boundaries between city and country, educated and illiterate, ladino and indígena. That said, after the elections and the anti-strike repression they great majority of the “westerners” saw no alternative to insurrection, whereas some members of national leadership only reluctantly joined the insurrection they believed was doomed.

But Gould makes it very clear. Despite the communist thoughts and possible aspirations of rebels, the organizing of the early 1930s was not internationally based, but homegrown. Class consciousness was built in crude drawings of the capitalist system and local workshops that taught Marxist theory – not funded by the Soviet Union or any other Latin American nation. “Without accepting other aspects of the ideological tradition, those who ask, was it communist? tend to accept this classic Leninist epistemology,” replies Gould to communist causality, “We emphatically reject this undialectical view of social consciousness and social action.” Thus, for Gould, the insurrection of 1932 was not caused by communist agitating, but a consciousness awakened by radical thoughts across all sectors, across the entire western region of the country; these insights are the basis for insurrectionary actions, not the central headquarters of the PCS or the SRI.

Traumatic events in the 1930s worldwide can often be attributed to the worldwide great depression that hit Latin America, and El Salvador in particular, hard. Each author believes the underlying events of 1932 exist due to the decline in the price of coffee (90 percent of Salvador’s exports) and the semi-proletarianization of campesinos. For Anderson, this led to rise of the communist party in El Salvador and the communist insurrection that followed. For Lindo-Fuentes and Gould, the depression was not solely a class concept, but could be successfully applied to ethnic studies. Both emphasized the indigenous influence in on the shape of 1932 – Lindo-Fuentes as the reasons for la matanza itself, Gould for their agency in organically creating the insurrection that the PCS and SRI joined after the fact. The discrepancies of 1932 lie not with the time-line of events, the rebels themselves, or the role of the poor, but with ideas of revolution.

The discrepancies lie in causality and organization. Anderson advances “communist causality” of the insurrection of 1932. Lindo-Fuentes responds by agreeing that the PCS did form in March 1930 with the goal of radicalizing farmers and that the newspapers of the era did use communist phraseology. But after that, he disagrees with Anderson’s premise. “Communist” was a lump term that, according to Lindo-Fuentes meant “violent, immoral, against the law, contrary to the nation state, or lacking Christianity,” and was often interchanged with indio, campesino, and gente pobre. The PCS believed that El Salvador was not ready for revolution and did not issue nor prepare for insurrection until it was too late. Who can blame Anderson, writing in the late 1960s, reading PCS reports that proclaimed: “Here in El Salvador, there are no Indians or Blacks.” He could not see the denial of the left towards ethnicity, even when it stared him in the face. Organizationally, in contrast to both Anderson and Lindo-Fuentes, Gould saw the insurrection as Indians meeting the needs of their community, influenced or not by the PCS or SRI, Anaya or Martí. Thus, Gould emphasizes the organization as a means of social communication on a local level, where Anderson sees a communist invisible hand.

La Matanza's victims

La Matanza's victims

The Memories of the Insurrection and La Matanza

It would be Anderson’s origins that would win the day. As mentioned above, no works on 1932 appeared for forty years after Los sucesos comunistas en El Salvador by Joaquín Méndez in March 1932. Thus, historical memory was stunted until the 1960s when scholarship (and the University of El Salvador’s autonomy) began to examine 1932 in present, as well as contemporary, context. This was the age of Jorge Arias Gomez, David Luna and Roque Dalton. It was their debates, their books and their views of history as a social tool that emphasized communist causality and inherent government repression while still denying indigenous agency even up until today. “The present exigences affect historical interpretation,” argues Lindo-Fuentes, one cannot forsake these moments as “our memories might surrender to pressures for change, or they might resist those pressures, but in either case, memories are the negotiated terrain between what actually happened and how we express what happened in a social context.”

Anderson would not agree, but the past consists of objective facts with memories that are “either accurate or inaccurate reflections of them,” states Lindo-Fuentes. Facts “come into existence when we turn them into memory.” Gould elaborates on memory as well, only slightly differently. Gould mentions Alison Landsberg, who has come with the term “prosthetic memory” to mean people “do not fully assimilate testimonies, but rather [we] construct a (prosthetic) memory ‘triggered by the testimonial and yet intimately connected to one’s own archive of experience.’ For Landsberg, there are critical political consequences of using these technologies of memory: ‘Images become recognizable…events and issues need to be represented in order to become politics.’” Both argue that these two ideas played a major role in the internalization of 1932 and its use as as “fact” or “prosthetic memory” in the 1980s during the civil war.

“Why do you accept and reject some memories?” mused Lindo-Fuentes. It is often that we distort what truly happened for human reasons (a good story, a genuine belief in something that didn’t happen). We also often belong to social group with vested interests, which are affected by politics, race, class, gender. It is not whether one’s view is right or wrong, “but rather which memory of 1932 came into existence.” Thus, memory exists on two realms. One contains the memories of 1932’s documentary record and the distortions and memories of the actual events of the time. The other realm is the musings on the the memory of 1932, the theme, the idea.

In 1932, the documentary evidence often lied to who it needed to in order to manipulate the memory. Gould introduces, “the problem of individual participation and memory led to a broader recognition that in the memories of Salvadoran indigenous people, their agency in the insurrection has been thoroughly suppressed…signaling the powerful role of the military in shaping memories.” Thus, because of la matanza – the suppression of the peasant insurrection – the events of 1932 have become skewed over the years because the oppressors were still in charge and the people could not collectively mourn. Thus, the PCS is blamed for today’s El Salvador, whenever “today” was – 1933, 1970, 1983. The PCS, in collective memory became, “una horda de salteadores” during the elections prior to la matanza. Rape became etched into the national psyche, despite there being no evidence. Looting, which did happen, for Gould, became criminal instead of an “emancipatory, millenarian” act. Worst, in Gould’s mind, is the memory of el robo [theft] – meaning the suppression of indigenous agency through communist causality by qualifying Indians as being robbed of their gentle ways for communist propaganda.

Farbundo Marti influenced historical memory as much as Gen. Martinez, who an infamous death squad was named after

Farbundo Marti influenced historical memory as much as Gen. Martinez, who an infamous death squad was named after

To add to this, the exact figures of the dead during la matanza are often skewed – seeing as the documentary evidence for this was either destroyed, manipulated, never kept or hidden in government vaults. In a rather awkward passage, Anderson writes: “As far as total figures are concerned, estimates vary greatly, Salvadorans, like medieval people, tend to use numbers like fifty thousand to indicate a great number – statistics are not their strong point…However, the sources who might have had a better opportunity to judge suggest lower figures.” Anderson quotes generals who put the death toll in the hundreds. Anderson believes, just like Gould, that the number is best around 10,000, or .7 percent of the population. Lindo-Fuentes agrees and tells a story of an current ARENA leader who openly claimed to him that thousands of military were murdered by insurgents in 1932, completely contrary even to the right-wing governments that succeeded after 1932, who often relished in their massacre. Despite what the “truth” may be, in the end, the current trend seems to be facts that suit one’s current needs, and if the left needs fifty thousand dead, they have it, if the right needs military casualties, they claim it. The interpretations of historical memory of 1932 are endless and have no ceased with time.

But memories of the documentary evidence may vex historians, they hardly interact with public memory (besides the wildly inaccurate death totals) and the role that the idea plays in historical understanding. According to Gould, memories are often striped of symbolism and only “coercive elements remain etched in officially framed memories inspired by the state and the counterrevolution. The Salvadoran revolution is no exception. The emancipatory aspects of the insurrection – free land and an end to elite domination over subaltern lives – have been buried in mass graves, covered with the toxic sediment of fear and propaganda.” Lindo-Fuentes makes it clear that these “mass graves” are a two-way street, constructed by two binary viewpoints through the years, that many not be close to the “truth” as we know it today. From the highest reaches, Gould sees the government of General Martínez consolidate control through the “official” memory of la matanza, namely that he saved Salvadorans from themselves. To the lowest levels, Lindo-Fuentes believes memory takes place in the in any contested form of art (movies, music, statues, etc.).

“When key memories are invoked in the public arena,” says Lindo-Fuentes, “they may define battle lines.” Here, Anderson, who does not content himself with thoughts of historical memory, for in the 1960s it was hardly in his vocabulary, enters the picture. Despite trying to map out the “truth” about 1932, not how it is remembered (even though Anderson, writing only 35 years after la matanza, would be in the best position to record these memories, which he chooses not to do), it is inevitable that he tries to draw 1932’s ghosts into his time. He recognized the future “battle lines” of the public arena as he imagines the statues that would be erected for Farabundo Martí. Anderson also tries to reign in the already prevailing left and right forces (Lindo-Fuentes devotes a chapter each to left- and right-wing interpretations of la matanza) by bargaining an agreement on the lessons of 1932: “the truth does lie somewhere in between the two extremes (although historians are all too prone to always find it there).” He anticipates the loss of historical inquisitiveness on 1932 by complaining the governments following la matanza “fostered a legend of bloodthirsty mobs butchering thousands of middle-class citizens, and of a heroic army that barely managed to turn back the barbarian wave. Little [as of 1969] has been written of the revolt, except propaganda. The National Library has been purged even of the newspapers that cover the period of the revolt. Government files have been conveniently ‘lost’.” Even as we move into the present, Lindo-Fuentes asserts “Contemporary ideological debates inevitably affected the reading of history.” The left and right had a stake in the memories of 1932 – they each hijacked the facts, the records, and the people. For Lindo-Fuentes, memory seeks to assert its position politically and socially to legitimize the present. In El Salvador, “memory was inherently political and politics was based on historical memory.”

Conclusions

The history of la matanza has been rewritten significantly in the past decade. One believes that will take time to overturn the myths of communist causality and to examine the effects of 1932 on the population of El Salvador. Gould’s work, the most recent, is the most convincing. He deals with every aspect of the massacre and offers arguments, like them or not, that a traditional scholar like Thomas Anderson would not touch – like genocide, ethnic agency and memory. Both Lindo-Fuentes and Gould do research in El Salvador and overseas, in Russia and other Central American countries, which lend themselves to be more informed than provincial Anderson, who relies heavily on government documents. Gould’s work also does the most investigative work – he also produced a documentary called Scars of Memory: El Salvador, 1932 – using sources of survivors as well as new archival work to piece together the events of the massacre. Lindo-Fuentes’ laissez-faire, postmodern view of history is intriguing, and, at its base, true (“What people think happened in the past can be just as important as what actually happened.”). Remembering a Massacre and To Rise in Darkness, taken together, represent the epitome of 1932 research, although more can be done. Gould sometimes discusses Central America, but one would like to know the international reaction to la matanza, or if it was known, or if the world cared. Gould and Lindo-Fuentes detail the Comintern’s reaction to its attempted revolution, but did leftists in Central and South America, or even wider, see the massacre in the same terms? One also found Gould’s contention that the early 1980s massacres tie directly into the burst of violence began in 1932 more than any other moment in Salvadoran history – it would be nice to see more research. Beyond Lindo-Fuentes’ fantastic overview of journalism and scholarship after 1932 of the massacre, it would be informative to present research on the scholarship following Miguel Mármol by Roque Dalton and Ashes of Izalco by Claribel Alegría. These three works will stand out for years in the historiography of 1932, and taken chronologically, represent la matanza in terms that resonant in El Salvador to this day.

“They had a ‘kill the seed’ mentality,” Professor Stanley told Mark Danner for his book The Massacre at El Mozote, published in 1991. “After all, what happened in 1932? To this day, when someone wants to make a threat here, why do they invoke the name of Martínez?… Because he is an icon, that’s why. The idea of going out to the zones and killing everyone is not a new idea. It’s a proved idea.” La Matanza was only “proven” through decades of historical memory and reflection on how it should and could be remembered through the entrenchment of the military from 1931 until 1979. The formation of historical memory often obscured the origins of the insurrection – economic downturn, ethnic grievances, proletarianization of coffee growers and agricultural areas – in favor of an encompassing communist explanation. It was through the insurrection that heroes were born – Martí on the left, Martínez on the right – and the fault lines of memory became a breeding ground for revolution that peaked in the “Final Offensive” of 1980 and sustained an assaulting civil war that lasted until 1992. It can still be said: the origins and memory of 1932 are present on anyone who calls themselves Salvadoran, as something happened in the mountains that year that has reverberated through time.

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~ by Daniel on May 23, 2009.

One Response to “'This Community Has Suffered Right?:' The Origins of La Mantanza and Historical Memory in El Salvador”

  1. […] longer are struggles based solely on class. In my research on El Salvador (which can be extended to Central America as a whole), class trumped culture/race/gender/etc. The […]

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