Celebrating Students 2013: Stephanie Huezo

“El pueblo unido jamás será vencido.” This is one of the many mottos Salvadoran people had during their 12-year civil war. More than 75,000 people were murdered, or disappeared and thousands more were exiled, separated from their loved ones, their mother country. I went this summer to “el pulgarcito de america” – El Salvador. With the support of the Davenport Grant, I was able to research how monuments, museums, and memorials represent the victims of the civil war. It was a challenging but wonderful experience.

I arrive at Potonico, a very small and poor town in the department of Chalatenango. There I learned about how this small town was affected by the war while enjoying some tortillas, black beans, hard cheese, Salvadoran cheesecake, and coffee. San Salvador, the capital was my next destination. I went to the Museum of Word and Image where the director of the program was the voice of Radio Venceremos, a famous guerrilla radio station. Then I visited the University of Central America “José Simeón Cañas” where there is a museum dedicated to the six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter who were brutally murdered by the Salvadoran Army. After that I visited Monsignor Romero’s crypt, a catholic priest who spoke against the war and was shot by a member of the death squad while he was blessing the Eucharist. All these places hold a terrible story of what Salvadoran people went through during the war. This information made me upset, confused, terrified, and thankful. I felt terrible hearing these events, looking at pictures of atrocious events. I am astounded by the amount of money the U.S. government gave the Salvadoran Army to violate their own people’s rights, however, I am also amazed at the amount of solidarity that the U.S. and other countries gave El Salvador during this very difficult time.

There were many things that I learned during my stay in El Salvador. One was to back up all your information more than once (my photos erased twice).  I learned that the people of El Salvador are resilient. They may have passed through a brutal 12-year civil war and are still living the consequences now (some places extreme poverty and many other departments are plagued by the MS-13 gang). Yet, it is the Salvadoran society that has taken the initiative to create monuments, memorials, and museums to commemorate their victims and through that deliver a message of “NUNCA MAS” – never again will this happen in El Salvador. I look forward to writing my thesis about mis compatriots, mis hermanos.