Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Civil War

It's crazy that when I say "civil war" in El Salvador I mean during my lifetime. The war here was from 1980-1991. The war resulted because of the extremes in economic situations here. There are a few very wealthy families that have governed El Salvador since El Salvador really began. They kept getting richer and richer while the poor got more and more poverty stricken. The poor started protesting against it in the 80's but the government feeling threatened began killing. They started killing the protesters and even the arch bishop here in El Salvador for speaking out against violence. The protesters then escaped to the mountains and formed their own guerrila army. The government then forced all the boys to go into the military and begin killing the poor civilians. If they refused then they themselves were killed. Our guide told us that he was forced to join the army on the side of the government but after he found out he was forced to kill innocent poor people he escaped into the mountains and joined the other side. The war went on for 10 years turning into a blood bath for the poor ill-equipped rebel army called the FMLN. The pictures taken are off the weaponry and the main hideout of the rebels. They told us they'd searched the place for mines placed but I'm not sure I believe that so we didn't leave the trail much.

The saddest part of the war was the massacre of Mozote. The battalion of the government went down to the remote village of Mozote and separated the men, women, and children into three different houses. The men were all murdered and their bodies burned, the women were raped and murdered, the girls 10-14 were taken up on the hill and used as "toys" for the men until they killed them before leaving, and the little children and babies were used as bayonet practice. One woman escaped when she was at the end of the line to be killed and a guard looked the other way. She told the story of what happened. It wasn't until just recently that the U.S (who was involved in the war and trained the soldiers that did the massacre) or the Salvadoranian government even recognized what happened. The memorial there is of the children and you can still see their blood stains on the bricks. It was quite a humbling experience to be there and to see something so sad that happened during my lifetime. The soldiers said that they did it to make a point to the rebels that this is what would happen to them if they continued.

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