History of El Salvador by Karla Cativo

History Of El Salvador is a 4-part blog series by Karla Cativo. Through this series, Karla will take readers through some of the most important moments in the history of El Salvador and how we can use the country’s complex past to better understand our community.

Karla has taught courses in Central and Latin American Studies at CSU Northridge and CSU Los Angeles. Her dedication to academia stems from a desire to break with traditional forms of teaching and learning to motivate a revolutionary and radical pedagogy based on collective principles and love. Karla was born in El Salvador as a 12-year civil war unraveled.

While this series is exclusive to our Patreon subscribers, you can read an excerpt here on our website.

History of El Salvador Part 1 of 4 by Karla Cativo

It was just a little over a month shy of my eighth birthday as I watched images of children and families running in horror from flying bullets and chaos in San Salvador. I remember that moment like it was just yesterday. After all, it was November 11th (1989), my mom’s birthday.
She looked so sad and worried as she heated tortillas for dinner. I asked her what was happening; she said it was a war and mentioned that it was the reason we were here (in the United States). I was seven and super confused. At that moment, I didn’t quite comprehend what she meant when she said that it was the reason we were here. It was the first time I had ever engaged in a conversation about the Salvadoran conflict with my parents. I knew I was born in El Salvador, but I didn’t understand why a war was going on or why this war had brought us to the United States. It was a life-altering moment for me that sparked curiosity about my birthplace and its history. I began to search for any content that would further expose me to Salvadoran history and culture from that moment.

I was fortunate that my relatives would become my greatest mentors throughout this journey. Once I began to ask questions, my parents and godparents connected me to incredible resources like documentaries, books, and music that would teach me so much about the land I come from and the world I want to live in. My godmother always said, “a nosotros los pobres siempre nos han visto de menos” (we the poor have always been perceived as less than). This concept greatly affected my youth and development, as I explored Salvadoran history. Poverty, violence, and social inequities have plagued Salvadoran history, which my godmother suggested gravely impacted the most destitute in my tiny homeland for the past few centuries.

When the “national heroes” or “los proceres” declared independence for the region, it wasn’t necessarily with the benefit of the masses in mind. Independence was declared for preventative purposes avoiding empowerment of the masses (since so-called “national heroes” or forefathers belonged to some of the richest and most influential families of the region). The dominating class of the era was largely landowners and heirs to Spanish colonial properties and blood. Politically these landowners divided themselves into two factions: liberals and conservatives. Liberals sought a republican state, a united Central America, separation of church and state, free and secular education, and the advancement of capitalist means of production. Conservatives pushed for an almost monarchical system, a divided Central America composed of independent states, a Catholic Church highly involved in the region’s political structure, the continuity of conservative ideals, and the conservation of a feudal means of production along with a semi-enslaved working class. Ultimately, both factions served the same purpose, to promote the empowerment of an already empowered wealthy stronghold.

To read more visit our Patreon page! https://www.patreon.com/somosartedoc

Follow Me