2014 Stanford Delegation

2014 Stanford Delegation
Stanford Delegation in the UCA Chapel

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Culmination of a Trip and the Commencement of Its Effects

By Mackenzie Yaryura

Our last day in El Salvador started with a delicious traditional breakfast and a feeling of excited anticipation for our first meeting, an informal conversation with an economic advisor from the United States Embassy. The question and answer session lasted for about an hour and a half, and it served as a launching point for intense reflection and discussion for the rest of the day.  Listening to an American working in El Salvador comment on his beliefs for how to effectively intervene, advise, or aid the country made me personally question my own values and goals. As someone interested in pursuing a Foreign Service career, how do I visualize the execution of the phrase “promoting the interests of the United States”? The members of our group interpreted this question and the meeting differently, spurring on interesting conversations as we drove to La Universidad de Central America (UCA) in order to view the site of the murders of six Jesuit priests and their housekeeper and her daughter in November 1989. 
 Upon arriving at la UCA, a professor of theology walked us through an exhibition displaying artifacts of the Jesuit priests that were brutally murdered by the Atlacatl Battalion, a group infamous for the Massacre at El Mozote, trained by American Green Berets. Among those murdered were Segundo Montes, Octavio Ortiz, and Amando Lopez, the namesake of three towns that we had visited previously. We were then taken to the chapel, where the artwork was incredibly powerful.  As we learned about the images, the themes of liberation theology were reinforced and the sheer brutality of what had occurred was strongly remembered. 

Next to the final resting place of the Jesuits, laid a plaque that read in translation:
“What does it mean today to be Jesuit? To promise yourself under the banner of the cross in the crucial struggle of our time: the fights for faith and the fight for justice that requires the same faith… We will not work in the promotion of justice without a price to pay…”

After a group picture in front of the beautiful alter, we walked through the physical location of the murders.  The husband of the housekeeper had planted rose bushes to represent the lives of the fallen, a beautiful way to commemorate their hard work and strength and to symbolize the growth of the values for which they gave their lives.

This experience was undernoted by the knowledge that the United States was a key sponsor in the execution of this event. Between the powerful experience at la UCA and the meeting with the Embassy Representative, thoughts about American intervention and presence were impossible to ignore.

Our entire trip had introduced me to alternate ideologies and exposed me to faults in my rationale. On one hand, only spending a week in El Salvador was not possibly enough to learn enough from multiple angles.  On the other hand, one week was plenty to realize that a uniform theory about development might not just be the best for everyone. Although we were leaving early Saturday morning and our trip was coming to an end, the conversations with and observations of different communities initiated an internal questioning of my values, goals, and methodology of obtaining and measuring success. The juxtaposition of the embassy economic advisor representing current American intervention in what he deemed to be a positive light and the blatantly obvious destruction of American intervention in the case of la UCA murders in 1989 makes me question how much our methodology has changed, if we are able to do any good in different countries, and what ethics are being compromised for certain outcomes. Although my time in El Salvador is over for now, the analysis of how this experience will affect my role in the world is just beginning. 

No comments:

Post a Comment