2014 Stanford Delegation

2014 Stanford Delegation
Stanford Delegation in the UCA Chapel

Sunday, March 30, 2014

“Violent Society”?

By Mariam Amini

On March 22, 2014, the students of the class Liberation Theology: El Salvador were given a first glance at San Salvador. We started the day with breakfast at our Hotel Torogoz followed by a very interesting conversation with Jose Acosta, the field director for the NGO, Voices on the Border. The conversation was around El Salvador’s current political and economic situation. It was an introduction to what we would see in Amando Lopez. When asked about the security of El Salvador and the growth of gangs, Jose said “this is a violent society.” It was a very direct opinion. Calling an entire society violent puzzled me. As the day followed, I saw everything but a present violent society.  However, the history of a violent society was still remembered.

After lunch at the local cafeteria, we went to the Museum of Word and Image. The museum has a large collection of historical photographs. We were told by our guide that the museum currently has six exhibitions that are traveling across the nation. Smiling the guide said “the museum goes to the people.” Half of the museum was dedicated to the civil war and personal pictures of Archbishop Romero. His pictures were donated to the museums when it opened in 1999. The images were colorful and almost jumped out at you. They were of Archbishop Romero’s travels to Europe and places in El Salvador.

The exhibition on the civil war had a very detailed outline of the twelve years of war with pictures of important figures. The images gave a historical reference to what we did the rest of the day.
Next, we went to the procession commemorating the assassination of Archbishop Romero and marched with the crowd to the national cathedral. It was interesting to see the youth so involved in the march. They were doing the wave, starting chants and playing street theater to show how Romero was murdered. We followed five cars that were broadcasting what was happening on the radio. At each stop they linked a story from the Bible to present day problems like crime, poverty and unemployment. By the time it was night, we reached the cathedral where a stage was set up for an outdoor mass.

The memory of Archbishop Romero is very well preserved in El Salvador. Children know him and can recognize him in the many pictures that adorn walls, schools, murals, and posters. He is glorified as the saver of the pueblo. Salvadorians seem to have a personal connection with him to continue to remember him on a national scale. His assassination was an act of violence that is constantly remembered but what have the people learned from it? Like Jose said to us this morning, do people believe El Salvador is a violent society? Does this horrible history continue to justify what people accept as violence today? We spent three days living with members of the community of Amando Lopez in the Bajo Lempa region. I am curious to ask people in the community more about Archbishop Romero.

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