Scott Wright

The Long Shadow of El Mozote

It’s necessary for the people of North America to understand the reality that we live in El Salvador, because in some places it is known but not believed. When I hid as they were looking to kill me, I told God that if I escaped I would tell the story of our people. I took on this commitment before God for my whole life and I think it was accepted.

I feel very emotional because I’ve seen a change in the mentality of the United States toward helping El Salvador. During the years that so much military assistance came, many children also died of hunger. But now we expect help to reconstruct our country for the future of our children who are still alive. After such suffering it is necessary that we live in peace.

I give thanks that my words are heard—a campesina who has lived a life of such exploitation. Previously I didn’t even want to converse. I was a very sad woman and very afraid. Now I reflect about how God has transformed me. I couldn’t even tell you about it without the help of God.

In El Mozote, we were very simple, humble people who were into development. It was a beautiful place, populated on all sides with dwellings. It had coffee, sugar cane, and pineapples, and wood on the outskirts. We worked in the fields. It was quite lovely there, because if you wanted to eat a pineapple, you just ate one. There were days when one would have lunch eating a piece of sugarcane—I’d have all my children there eating cane too. We were very happy.

Now there is no sign of all that. They destroyed everything. This is the impossibility that the exiles feel. How can we ever go back to our place of origin if we don’t have anything there? We would have to plant again, and the energy to do that has been lost. The most difficult thing is that the people know the government does not protect or help us in difficult moments.

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 1994
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