2014 Stanford Delegation

2014 Stanford Delegation
Stanford Delegation in the UCA Chapel

Sunday, March 20, 2011


"To have peace, you first need justice." -spoken by El Salvador's first woman Supreme Court Justice, Mirna Perla to our delegation today (with a loose translation courtesy of Danny).

Though in reference to the amnesty provided to former death squad members in the peace accords following the Salvadoran civil war, this quote resonates with all communities fighting for social justice.  Mirna shared with us tears for her husband who was assassinated during the civil war as a consequence of his position as the Director of the Non-Govermental Human Rights Commission.  Despite this sorrow her story was one of hope; she who was formerly labeled as "subversive" is now a respected human rights defender.  The hope of her story is one of many permeating the national feeling here.

We see this hope manifested as courage in the actions of Hector Berrios, a leader in the struggle for human rights in Cabanas.  Despite death threats he perseveres in the struggle, promoting the spread of information and the spread of solidarity.

We see the propagation of hope in the children of this country.  As Hannah mentioned yesterday, they're passion lent enthusiasm to the parade last night.  A parade for a man not of their lifetime, yet for great reason they have claimed as their own.  The youth energizes us, said Padre Luis after Mass today at Maria Madre de las Pobres.  Yet when I watch the church band comprised mostly of youth and the young girls who read Mass, I can't help but realize that the youth also inspires us.

And while this hope manifests itself in the young generation, we see its undying presence -molded with time-in the older generations.  When Padre Luis glorified both God and Romero at Mass, their love for their Lord and their Monsenor flowed through them, from their lips and from their spirits.  It was in this moment that I saw my Ita (my Salvadoran grandmother) in the faces of the elderly women around me.  Her words to me before I left echoed in my heart as I was humbled by the hope of the Salvadoran people.  A hope of such scale I have never before witnessed.

Though our speakers call for solidarity and though we have taken it as a buzzword for this trip, people seem keen to point out what could be counter efforts of Obama's visit.  Though out government and under it, our military, has undeniably committed disgraceful human rights violations I have seen hope in America for a change.  My dad is a Navy man currently stationed at a Spanish navy base shared with the Americans; here I have seen the power dynamics our country seems to play by.  My first day in Rota, the base CO opened his introductory speech with a humbling question: "How many foreign military bases are on US territory?  How many nations have military bases on foreign soil? We are in a privileged position."  Though I've seen this privileged position play out, I have also seen a striking degree of solidarity.  The Spanish and the American military communities have created a beautiful solidarity, working, socializing, praying, and committing to social causes together.  While I know that our nation still commits human rights violations, often facilitated by the military, I can't help but hope in the character of some of its current leaders to rectify these issues.

May we model our hope off that of the plentiful examples of the Salvadoran nation and incorporate it into solidarity with both our nation and others such that we can create a world of first justice, then peace.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Erin, I'm struck by the contrast of death squad members being given amnesty and yet a man who is fighting for human rights receives death threats. How difficult it must be to see the justice in that!