By Daniel Alvarenga
The first time I saw white people in a pupusería was on my first trip to San Francisco's Mission district in the mid-2000s. Growing up in inland Southern California I had never in my life seen a nuclear White family venture into the hood to have the fried, flat delicacy of my people. As they walked in, my Salvadoran-American guides to The City scoffed something about “displacement and invasion” under their breaths – this wasn’t a scene of first contact.
On September 22-23, SalvaCultura news editor and doctoral student Jorge Cuéllar participated as part of a Yale delegation of indigenous students to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples hosted at United Nations in Manhattan. As part of this excursion, Cuéllar served the role as observer of the deliberations and proceedings, and was witness to energetic and moving presentations by important political and indigenous leaders such as Rigoberta Menchu, Evo Morales, Oren Lyons, Enrique Peña-Nieto, Sauli Niinistö, among others.
Central American Women Crossing Mexico Face High Rates of Sexual Abuse
An informative piece by Fusion asks “Is rape the price to pay for migrant women chasing the American Dream?” The articles notes that 80% of Central American women crossing Mexican territory on their way to the United States experience sexual assault. The scenario is something all too common, and largely goes unaddressed when talking about the migration experiences of Central Americans. In it’s opening line, the video article captures some of what entails women’s migratory experience, “Before they can reach the American Dream, many migrant women have to survive a Mexican nightmare.” Not every Central American woman makes it to the US, and in many Southern Mexico towns, there are local underground economies based on trapping these women into sex work. Watch the video and read the article here.
It’s easy to make the connection between the dissemination of hip-hop in El Salvador and Salvadoran gang culture: Mara Salvatrucha, named the world’s most dangerous gang by National Geographic, has its origins in Los Angeles around the same time LA gangster rap was blowing up. However, the complete picture is more complex than that, and a new documentary titled Words of Revolution aims to shed light to the trajectory of Salvadoran hip-hop. The film showcases how Salvadorans use hip-hop to articulate the generational trauma of civil war and migration. SalvaCultura had the opportunity to chat with the filmmaker, Junior Gonzalez, and talk about the new film.
A grassroots LGBTQI organization AMATE El Salvador (Action for Memory and Support for Equality in El Salvador; the acronym also spells out “love yourself” in Spanish) is seeking to create an archive of LGBTQI Salvadoran history. The goal is to document the queer history that has always existed in El Salvador, but due to religious conservatism has been violently repressed for centuries. El Salvador currently has no hate crime legislation and has one of the highest rates of homicide in the Americas. The country fought a 12 year revolutionary struggle in the 1980s and LGBTQI people have often been left out of that history. What was it like to be out during that tumultuous era? They aim to find out and interview 10-12 veteran LGBTQI advocates and community members between November and February about their life stories.
In an effort to curb the costs of archiving and preserving materials and testimonials, AMATE is seeking the public’s help in raising $3,000 to continue their efforts. Help create a more inclusive El Salvador. For more information, please watch their video and visit their Indiegogo page.
On August 10th, 2014 Daniel Alvarenga, founder of SalvaCultura spoke with Julio Varela of Latino Rebels on Latino Rebels Radio to discuss the child refugee crisis, the Salvadoran diaspora, and the origins of SalvaCultura.
Central American Experts Discuss the Root Causes of Border Crisis
Melissa Harris Perry hosted a panel of Central American experts that included Héctor Perla Jr., Salvadoran-American professor at UC Santa Cruz and the Guatemalan-born researcher, Tomás Ayuso to discuss the origins of the present-day border crisis. This segment included a special focus on Honduras, the country with the highest outmigration of unaccompanied child refugees to the U.S. The conversation touched on the role of internal violence, police militarization, among others though the U.S.-supported 2009 Honduran coup d’état which established these political conditions went largely unmentioned. It was also emphasized that Central American states are becoming increasingly draconian and repressive in response to the escalating drug war in the region and U.S.-led initiatives like CARSI (Central American Regional Security Initiative). For El Salvador, asserts Héctor Perla Jr.:
El Salvador's changing path after 2009, has begun to go away from heavy-handed policies. You see the impact it's starting to have. The increase of children from El Salvador hasn't been as nearly as much, and El Salvador has always been the largest of the senders. Salvadorans are now the 3rd largest Latino Community in the United States
Watch the video here.
Indigenous Guatemalans Win Against Mining Company
Last week, Upside Down World reported on the Guatemalan government ruling in favor of indigenous people of the Sipacapa municipality. The story shows us how the Guatemalan subsidiary of transnational Canadian mining company Goldcorp Inc. was granted a mining permit in Sipacapan territory without consulting and without consent of the people who rightly occupy those lands. The Mayan Council of Sipacapa immediately organized in response to save their land from the environmental destruction that mining often brings to indigenous territories. Though the peoples of Sipacapa achieved an important victory, this is but one of many battles required against the numerous operational mining projects in Guatemala. Transnational mining is a chief regional problem in Central America.
Read the article here.
Written and curated by Daniel Alvarenga and edited by Jorge Cuéllar
A group of critical Twitter users including our own Daniel Alvarenga had an impromptu discussion on the erasure and invisibility of African identity and history among Salvadorans and other Central Americans.
Add to the discussion by tweeting at us @Salva_Cultura
On this inaugural post for SalvaCultura, I want to pay tribute to what happened 39 years ago in El Salvador today. Four years ago, I had the privilege to visit and study at the University of El Salvador, and learn about one of the most important events leading up the the Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992). The experience was very personal to me: my late uncle, a medical student at the time, was also an organizer and survivor of this student massacre. As a Salvadoran-American, participating in a commemoration of this event connected me to my people's historical and collective resistance to oppression.
A little background: the massacre was a violent response by the Salvadoran Government to a student protest at the University of El Salvador in the capital, San Salvador. The protest itself was in response to state violence against protesters in the western Salvadoran city of Santa Ana a few days prior. According to various sources, there were around 100 dead and over 23 injured. This is now seen as a taste of what was to come as the civil war would subsequently erupt; a conflict that led to the mass exodus of people which included my parents and siblings.
So, I found myself in El Salvador on the 35th anniversary of this massacre in 2010, and it was a chilling and inspiring experience to see Salvadoran students keeping the memory of history alive. Today and every year, Salvadoran university students take to the streets to commemorate the legacy of the fallen students. What is that legacy? Check out the video to find out.
SalvaCultura is a portal for the Central American diaspora and their issues. Learn More.