Terrorism in El Salvador



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Where do you think terrorism comes from? Most people would think that terrorism is only against the United States, Europe, and The Middle East, but it also it happens in Central America.  It has a violent history everywhere that human beings become afraid, greedy, and ignorant. 1980 was very a crucial year in El Salvador, given the series of repressive events by the state and paramilitary organizations. It was a time of Civil War.  On 24 March 1980 the Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador, Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, was assassinated after having demanded the United States withdraw its military support to the Salvadoran regime and to order the end of repression. This was a time period in the world known as the Cold War.  During this time the United States sent money and weapons to any group or government in Latin America that said it was against communism.  Many poor people in Latin American countries liked the socialist message of economic hope that communist rebels brought but even some dictators used communism to stay in power and so America supported their overthrow.  

( See more about the Cold War in Latin America HERE. Click this link for more information on the Salvadoran Civil War. )

Below is a summary about the documentary film on Bishop Oscar Romero’s life.

My father was in his young 20s in 1980 living in the city of San Salvador. My father was involved in the Civil war because he was in the military. He was in his 30’s. What I learned about the civil war was that no one could live in peace because terrorism went inside of the people’s homes. It was a very difficult experience.  My dad told me that my mom was pregnant with my older brother.  I wasn’t even born yet but I would grow up in a violent El Salvador because of its struggle to recover from Civil War.

I was born in El Salvador in the city of San Salvador. When I was a 2 and 3 years old I used to fly with my mom to the United States back an forth because of my mom’s job. It was better money in the United States.   My family lived in a good neighborhood in San Salvador. It was secure because of my dad working with the government.  I went to a private school. It was a middle school and high school together, but every year the situation in El Salvador was getting worse with the gangs. We decided to moved to the US for a better life in 2010. I lived there for 15 years and the government terrorism stopped but the gangs are still there in other ways of terror.  They pushed us to make a decision as a family to moved to the United States for a better future, and more opportunities to study.

This is a picture of a young gang in El Salvador, and they are getting arrested

How can we stop gang violence? Can we stop gangs by killing them and having no fear with them as we try to fight back? Violence just leads to more violence so the first step to fighting it is to understand its causes.  Justice today needs forgiveness and mercy and a way out of the broken cycle of terror and violence.

For more information on the current problem with gangs in El Salvador CLICK HERE.

For more information on a successful organization in Los Angeles, California that has worked to give gang members a way out; GO HERE to HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES.

Terrorism is ignorant violence aimed at instilling fear and seeking control. Understanding, awareness and forgiveness all conquer fear and violence. Sometimes when people feel out of control themselves they try to control others. 

Terrorism as a tactic, is a form of political violence….. It is also distinct from acts of war and war crimes that occur in the absence of war. The presence of non-state actors in armed conflict has created controversy regarding the application of the laws of war. The word “terrorism” is politically and emotionally charged, and this makes it difficult to agree on a precise definition. It is common to use the word by governments to accuse its opponents but it is also common for organizations and individuals who practice it to reject the term as unfair or inaccurate.  – based on a discussion in Spanish with my father and brother. 

Below is a video that has true stories from survivors of El Salvador’s Civil War.  It is only through the young people learning a different way than violence and corruption that El Salvador will see peace in its future.