Since 1932, the indigenous people of the Americas, mistakenly labeled as “the Indians”, have been subject to discrimination and cruelties. This documentary investigates this matter.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
Narration: Because one day there was nothing to eat and our backbones could be seen. But the landowner was a nightmare for us. The boss handed us over and the Army killed us. My nation will never forget a sad day in January 1932.
The 22th of January 1932, thousands of farmers in the Western region of El Salvador arose in a rebellion against the regime. Armed with machetes they attacked the ranches of their landowners and some stations. As a response, the government deployed military in the whole country. The incidents extended during these days led to a terrible massacre today known as the Revolution of 1932 or the indigenous insurrection.
The massacre of 1932 is still a dark chapter of history in El Salvador. Until now, there are many versions about the incidents that occurred those days. In an ugly and cruel way, the Army killed thousands of indigenous people while it also try to calm the communist movement that arose at the same time.
The incidents of 1932 had consequences that are still today palpable in the society of El Salvador especially among the indigenous population. Different voices in the history agree that such feelings as fear and being rejected from the very root are the results of this seed sowed with hatred in 1932. What incidents happened in El Salvador that caused such ethnocide?
The coffee crisis had big effects in the West of the country, a region that was mostly populated by the farmers and the Pipils.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “The Izalco population is an evolution of the Toltec that arrived to the region. As we know they come from the center of Mexico. A serie of emigrations that was settled in the IX, X, and XI centuries. And they were named after their leaders. In fact it is not certain, but it is an interpretation. This interpretation suggests that some people controlled these emigrations. And in this region some important cities were settled like Cihuatan in the North of El Salvador, it is one the first Toltec cities that was developed with the involvement of the nature and the development of culture. And it created a new culture that today is called the Pipil culture.”
Narration: The Pipil race comes from a branch of Toltec Civilization in Mexico. They came to El Salvador approximately in 1000 AD after the collapse of Tala Empire. In 1050 the cities of Cuscatlan and Tecpan Izalco were built.
In the territories of El Salvador, the Pipils found enough sources to be able to settle. The Izalco Volcano, the witness of that settlement covered the new civilization. Under the protection of the nature the western villages started to be formed.
TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “Nature influenced the development of the culture in the way of getting dressed, cooking, building houses and anything that the human being does. Throughout the r history the natural element was of a high significance. So these culturally altered Toltecs became the Pipils and settled in various cities. Among these four are Izalco, Las Matias, Cihuatan.”
Narration: The Quetzaltec, the Izalco, the Nonulaco and the Mazahua, settled in the West of El Salvador. They all shared the God Tlaloc, the cultivation of cacao, the worship of the nature. The Pipils brought a great cultural wealth to the country. The arrival of Spaniards would make an irreversible breach in the population.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “Imagine that today, in the 21th century, someone comes and says, “You are going to have a new region.” They appear as extraterrestrials and show you that we must have a new region about which we haven’t heard before. This is even harder to believe for the indigenous population, five centuries age. That’s because they gods like the god of rain, among others, which appeared in May to water and fertilize their lands. It was a live god, a god that could see, a god that one could bathe with, a god that could give them life and fertilization. Suddenly they should follow a god that can’t see and agrees with some religion and can’t be imagined. That is too incomprehensible in a mentality that recognizes some concrete gods. It’s safe to say that religion takes a long time to be completely introduced to the mind of the indigenous population. It probably takes four or five generations to develop this ideology. However, most indigenous peoples nowadays, are probably more religious than people who live in the cities.”
Narration: Today, the Catholic religion is still in force in the communities. The rooted deities in the Pipil culture have assembled with the Christianity and have made up a mosaic of worship that finds their majority of representation in the Guilds.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Herbert Erquicia, Director of national museum of archeology: “With the guilds, the indigenous community is stronger nowadays. The guilds or the brotherhood maintain that they should stay a strong indigenous organization even though they are colonized.”
Narration: The role of the Guilds was progressively settled among the Indigenous communities in the West, not only as a parish but also as an association of brotherhood from where the security of its members was protected. Moreover, from the Guilds, the economic, logistic and human sources were obtained for the patron or monthly celebrations.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Cristino, Steward of the brotherhood of Chorpus Christi: “The Greeks used to say that the deity should be adapted to God. So they started to look for the ancient form, and that’s where the intruders could easily form groups and choose leaders. Therefore the guilds were brought by the Spaniards.”
TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00
Narration: And the common mayor coordinates all the stewards in the guilds at the same time.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Voice of a man: “We have to pass through harsh paths, paths that are filled with negativity for the indigenous population; paths with bad people that make us suffer.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Cristino, Steward of the brotherhood of Chorpus Christi: “The common mayor has his own job function. Such as keeping all the guilds united, since some stewards may exceed their own territories.”
Narration: In the guilds the worshipers ask God by the saint or a virgin.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Cristino, Steward of the brotherhood of Chorpus Christi: “The guilds are formed by the same people and it’s the right of each village to ask for God using a saint.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Herbert Erquicia, Director of national museum of archeology: “Note that there are some kind of religious contradictions in what the indigenous communities follow. For example, in Sonsonate, Sonsonate, there are the images of the popular Saints. Popular saints are those that are not directly assigned by catholic churches, but known by the locals. So there is a range of popular saints some of whom are used for the harvest, some for love, and others that would you a house. These are also seen in Latin America, and this is a mixture of indigenous elements, along with Catholic and African elements which come together here.
However, following a study in one of those municipalities of Sonsonate, we can see that there is an interesting personality among the popular saints. They were used by people who were being extorted by gangs or people who felt insecure at their homes for different reasons. So they would ask this popular saint to intervene in order to liberate them from all the bad happenings.One of these popular saint who was working in one of the indigenous communities of Sonsonate was General Martinez Hernandez. This can be seen as a contradictions, some the indigenous pleading for security from popular saints who in fact treat them with violence.”
Narration: With the appearance of the star product of the time, the coffee, the indigenous Pipils gave up cultivating cacao. The system starts to impose on the farmers. And during the first three decades of the 20th century, the country’s economy starts to turn around growing. Coffee.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carlos Dada, Journalist and founder of El Faro: “When they discovered that the indigo was a great product to export, they sent the farmers to live near the volcanoes where the indigo wouldn’t grow. Because the lands with indigos on them were going to be occupied by agricultural entrepreneurs.
When the indigo business was no more profitable and was replaced by synthetic dyes, they returned to coffee and where can you find coffee?
In the volcanoes! So one again, they forces them to come back down because they needed those lands.”
TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00
Narration: The national sector of coffee growing emerged from the accumulation of a small group of property owners and businessmen. They took advantage of the business of coffee growing. This group totally controlled a great amount of lands and gave jobs to the farmers, mostly, to aboriginals.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Herbert Erquicia, Director of national museum of archeology: “The production of coffee which is fundamental for the economy of El Salvador in the 19th and 20th century starts to affect the economy. However this was the case when indigo was still powerful 1870s with exportation of indigo and the coffee being almost the same. After that, the coffee exportation starts to outweigh indigo.”
Narration: In 1881 and 1882, the state decreed the abolition of the communal lands to promote the individual property and national development.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Herbert Erquicia, Director of national museum of archeology: “The reform of land expropriation in 1881 was the finishing shot for the indigenous community, why? Because it starts to break up the community by ruining land dependence of its people. The ties become weaker by going from one village to another like a religious migration. The colonial elite that still remain from 1850 with indigo, would still rule if the economy didn’t turn towards coffee and new elites.
Instead of being land owners, what is left these people is slaving for the new owners of the lands which in this case are the coffee growing owners.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ramón W. Jovel, Analyst in General Production of El Salvador: “Everything remained quiet in the coffee growing areas of the west until these lands were privatized in the last century.”
Narration: The job that the property owners gave to the farmers was changing to a progressive exploitation.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “Well the indigenous people have always been known in a derogatory way like the second or third degree citizens.”
Narration: At the end of 1930, the wages in the properties consist of two tortillas and two spoonful's of beans in the beginning and the end of the day. The value that the property owner gave the worker was extremely low. The worldwide crisis of the 1929 had a devastating effect in El Salvador especially in the West of the county. The prices of coffee collapsed and the government of that time entered into the crisis.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Herbert Erquicia, Director of national museum of archeology: “The events of 1932 are obviously related to the crisis in 1929, but probably more related to the liberal reforms at the end of the 19th century in which they expropriated the lands and started to making other kinds of rules to infringe the indigenous community”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “What happens if there is no sale of coffee? If there is no sale of coffee, what happens is that the growing coffee loses financial benefit. Coffee has such a low price that it costs more money to throw it away than to harvest it.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ramón W. Jovel, Analyst in General Production of El Salvador: “Coffee fell as low as 50 colons per bag .Letting It go to waste became more expensive than harvesting it. Because the price of production was higher than the price of sale. As a result, coffee beans fell and covered all the coffee lands and smell was everywhere.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carlos Dada, Journalist and founder of El Faro: “Since the whole economic structures of the country were based on the exportation of coffee, it suffered a great deal with the crisis of 1929 in the United States. Clearly like other times when an economic crisis happens in this country, the entrepreneurs find themselves to be the victims. Also the majority of the population, i.e. the poor start to be organized to demand their basic rights and complain that, “We are dying of hunger. We can’t manage to feed our families.””
TIME CODE 20:00_25:00
Narration:But, how was the political system that was installed in the country? In what ways did it affect the whole peasantry that was suffering from the coffee growing crisis?
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ramón W. Jovel, Analyst in General Production of El Salvador: “When this coffee oligarchy comes, when the coffee became the fundamental, series of n peaceful governments come and without any jolts transferred power. The General Tomas Regalados came to power in 1903, then Don Pedro Jose Escalon, then Fernando Figueroa, then Don Miguel Fernando Araujo, but they assassinated him. After him Carlos Melendez, then Jorge Melendez, then Alfonso Quiñónez Molina and the false kind of prosperity starts to be seen in the country. In some areas there was this long railroad. However, in Morazán and Chalatenango there was none because there was no coffee. So the rail road cross right by the doors of the coffee retailers. He other areas had no railroad and were completely abandoned.
In 1927, when the power was transferred to the last Don, Alfonos Quiñónez Molina, a situation appeared which revealed an interior fracture in this political class. There was an engineer who had studied in UK and was staying as a ward in the house of a labor party leader. The engineer’s name was Arturo Araujo.”
Narration: Arturo Araujo comes to power along with the Labor Party. But, after nine months his government is overthrown by a coup. The general Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez inherits the position of the president in a curious fluke that put him in the power. After that there is a period of authoritarian governments and one of the cruelest stages of the country that starts with the terrible massacre of 1932.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carlos Dada, Journalist and founder of El Faro: “There already had been a coup, and that’s why General Martinez inaugurates military regimes, saying that the previous government was an oligarch. At the point he intends to show the oligarchies that the best way to govern is to prevent the peasant to rebel. 30.000 dead, 30.000 assassinated by the army of 1932. He sent a clear message to all the poor, “Those who claim their rights, will end up dead””
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ramón W. Jovel, Analyst in General Production of El Salvador: “On the surface, he claimed that there was freedom and order. How were the movement by the farmers and the indigenous people going to show their opposition in the system which could only be called a democratic dictatorship?”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “Talking about Martinez as a president, means talking about him as a person, who has an origin. Martinez was a man with the black skin, average curly hair, and also he was from a village called San Matias closer than Sensuntepeque and wasn’t a Ladino. If you want to define Martinez, you can define him as an indigenous dressed as a Ladino.”
Narration: Hernandez Martinez was imposed as the new dictator in El Salvador. His government was characterized by strict measures and extremely sever laws. However, a double policy was also established when the business of coffee came into play.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ramón W. Jovel, Analyst in General Production of El Salvador: “The system which the Dictator Hernandez Martinez followed and how the coronels and generals after him would respond to, was like a double policy. To illustrate it, on one side there are carrots and in the other side bullets. When the price of coffee and the economy isn’t good enough, people start to protest and there are bullets.”
TIME CODE: 25:00_30:00
Narration: The figure of Martinez starts a period of authoritarian governments all of them controlled by Armed Forces and supported by the coffee growing landowners. A year before the arrival of Hernandez Martinez to the power, the Communist Party starts to win power in the field of politics. The communism rose from a university and urban concept that was fed from the Marxist ideology that was born as an alternative. In the elections of 1931, the communists led by Farabundo Marti presented their candidates of the elections.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “In the elections of 1932, the communist party wins lots of municipalities not that much imaginable, but the communist surprisingly wins lots of municipalities but the Communist Party wins 25.30 present of municipality. There is an encouraging force. The farmers are starving, feeling that if they don’t have the land, it could be impossible to live.”
Narration: However, these victories in the town hall never got to see the light. The Communist Party accused the government of Martinez of fraud. While the communism was born because of a necessity of political change, protected by some organizations like International Red Relief, a more visceral revolt pushed by hunger and survival was getting prepared in the camp. Along the history one of the biggest questions without resolving is if these two movements ever joined their forces in some point of the uprising or as some voices defend there were just different thoughts.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “January 22, 1932 the farmers had already taken the decision while the communists were thinking in attempting a coup in San Salvador to recover the missing power from the Arturo Araujo’s coup. Therefore there are two movements like two bullets moving at the same time, a urban movement controlled by Farauna Martina, Abel Cuenca, David Luna, Marillo Zapata who are the university students in San Salvador and in the other hand there is an indigenous movement of farmers that suffering from hunger which is dominated by Feliciano Ama and Francisco Sanchez. Despite their fundamental difference, these two different movements share fighting against the established power.”
Narration: Feliciano Ama was one of the most important figures of the peasant uprising in 1932. Ama led the insurgence in Izalco and was considered one de most significant caciques of the ethnic Pipil. Cristiano is the grandson of Feliciano who during his time also occupied the position of religious administrator.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Cristino, Steward of the brotherhood of Chorpus Christi: “All the people who say that he was preparing to be a fighter are lying, he was a communist and they didn’t know who he was.”
Narration: The 22th of January 1932, thousands of farmers in the Western region of the county arose in a rebellion against the regime. Armed with machetes attacking the ranches of their landowners and some stations. They took the control of some towns like Juayua, Nahuizalco, Izalco and Tacuba. Other headquarters like Ahuachapan, Santa Tecla and Sonsonate resisted the attack and stuck to the service of the national government.
TIME CODE: 30:00_35:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “Just days before January 22, 1932, it was clear that something was going to happen in the country, there had been incidents, and surely the state government had information. The detention of Farauno in January 22, 1932, was based on that information. In San Salvador, the movement had somehow been neutralized immediately. The major movement is in western territory of the country. The farmers had arranged immediate communication between Tacuba which is situated on the south east of the country and Jayaque which is near to San Salvador.”
Narration: According to the Pipil beliefs, the lava of the volcanoes symbolizes the rage of the race. The volcano Izalco, named the Pacific Lighthouse erupted along with various volcanoes in Guatemala the same day of the uprising. According to the descriptions of Anderson in his book “El Salvador, 1932”, it seems that the nature had gone crazy.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “And the night of January 22, the indigenous community arose simultaneously recapture all their lands. In the most cases they kicked them out or took them hostage. And in some cases, according to a document in Juayo, one was beaten to death in front of his family and his daughter was probably raped. The point is that this movement with the indigenous peoples could have gone out of control. Obviously no one can stay calm while taking back what is rightfully theirs and its being occupied. Surely no one can stay pacific at the time of recapturing something that they are not giving it back to him.”
Narration: The 23th of January 1932, the government of Martinez organized a military deployment. The rebellion should be suffocated. In a parallel way the communists organized their own uprising. Despite the leader of PCS, Faranbundo Marti, and the leaders of student groups were arrested, the insurrection kept going. The army forces responded in the same way to the uprisings.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “The events developed in a tragic way, because around 1000 to 1200 people were dying each day. Jose Tomas Regalado sent a message saying: “Up to now 4200 Bolsheviks have been killed,” addressing the indigenous peoples. The repression continues for about two months. The level of repression wasn’t the same during these two months, but it did have an important effect. There are documented facts in Nahuizalco, where 700 indigenous people were summoned by the mayor to be given asylum “Nothing will happen to you for being an indigenous.” “We are going to give you a card which says doesn’t participate in the battle.” The mayor deceives the nation with this and around 700 people in the central park of Nahuizalco were assassinated by machine guns of the 700th army. In case of Nahuizalco, we know that the number of assassinated people was so high that they had to construct new mass graves beneath the streets.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Luis Felipa Palucha, Survivor of the Massacre of 1932: “They went to hide in this mountain and in this way some of them were left. There were thousands of people. Pay attention, they were coming out. A sergeant who was Turkish. They were coming out. They put them in lines, after finishing they fired gun machines on them, bunch of them fell down and buried them. Under the clock tower. That was terrible because they were not aware of the politics. There were some that killed themselves sooner than being killed by them.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Francisco Coahuit, Survivor of the massacre in 1932: “Because there were some that were going to hide, they went to the holes. In that time the coffee lands had holes. They went to the holes and filled the holes by garbage. And the troops passed by them and they couldn’t be found. They went to hide in this mountain and in this way some of them were left.”
TIME CODE: 35:00_40:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish]Rafael Latín, Mayor of Izalco and Sonsonate: “He said that they brought people in the lines and put them into the coffins, and when they had an adequate profanity they would put them in the lines and behind them a gun machine started firing. It’s possible that some of them weren’t shot. And when they were falling down, they called another group to come and pour a little land and then it was their turn.
They started looking for them around here. It was the same here. I know families with name and last name, who seize the opportunity and became rich because they had money. And they were respected people, they would open the doors saying don’t worry nothing happens to you. Once there were together and when they had the people there, they had to give them the document, and they gave the documents of their fields in return that there was forgiveness in life. But what would happen when they had already delivered their papers to people with the communist support? In this way they took them away from their lands that actually weren’t big quantity, because the big quantity was seized before.”
Narration:The government of Martinez, led by Jose Tomas Calderon, accused everyone who carried machete or dressed in indigenous clothes of being culpable. Although many farmers proved that they hadn’t been involved in the insurgency, they were executed by firing squad.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish]Rafael Latín, Mayor of Izalco and Sonsonate: “There are many version for which this crime was happened. Because it is really hard to explain the reality. But what we know is that General Martinez had been reached the presidency due to a coup. And the government of United States didn’t accept him. So he decides to assassinate this nation to persuade the government of United States and tells them that has detained the communism.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish]Cristino Ama, Steward of the brotherhood of Chorpus Christi: “The government of Martinez wasn’t clearly observed in United States, because he was encountered with a coup. In order to mend relations with the Us, he invented this revolution by the indigenous.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ramón W. Jovel, Analyst in General Production of El Salvador: “These people weren’t armed, they were armed with sticks and machetes, and they didn’t have, when you see the Mexican revolutionaries Zapata and Pancho villa, you see them with machineguns, but the indigenous Salvadorian were too poorly armed to fight against a civil war or a resurrection.”
Narration: Despite the efforts to reach a number of killed people, it is not possible to make sure what the correct number is. Some historians agree that more than twenty five thousand people died. Feliciano Ama, the leader of the Farmer Movement, was lynched and his body was hung up in the public square.
TIME CODE: 40:00_45:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “How many people died? We have no ideas. The number of dead people between January 23 and the February of 1932 can be about which is a little exaggerated till 30.000, I personally agree with the 25.000 which is very plausible. In the first four days we had 4200 dead. How can we know the exact number? It’s impossible. It is also impossible to find out the exact number of those indigenous peoples who had to migrate to the US, the most race- mixed county, and be labeled as the indigenous.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Herbert Erquicia, Director of national museum of archeology: “in one similar uprising which happened in 1931, they say that there weren’t many indigenous peoples an in their uprisings, they were only a few. This claim might be a war strategy played by the Salvadorian army.I don’t mean that it didn’t happen, but for some investigators the 30.000 seems extremely high. Again not saying that it didn’t happen or there wasn’t a massive assassination. What I mean is that we should do more investigations, apart from unreliable source of like the latter.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish]Rafael Latín, Mayor of Izalco and Sonsonate: “The indigenous in Izalco, Nahuizalco, Tacuba, Santo Domingo, Salcoatitán, Coayuda, all these parts were killed in 1932. A number between 30.000 or 35000 were assassinated in the western regions. 10.000 people were killed in Izalco. How many habitants would live in that village in that time? If there are 75000 people now, at the time it could have been around 20.000 or 25000. They killed 10000 of them and left the village. They intended to do genocide by killing the babies.”
Narration: During the history one of the questions that remain floating in the air is if the farmer’s rebellion was organized with the uprising of the Communist Party or on the contrary they were two different movements.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “Now you can think that Farauno Marti and the other members of the communist party took advantage of this moment where the farmers had to recuperate the land and they had created an organization for this recuperation. The farmers wholeheartedly wanted to regain their lands, so they walked by themselves without guidance, leadership and partnership with the communities. For lots of people this movement is totally a communist movement labeling the farmers as communists, a communist indigenous uprising in El Salvador. For the others we know that it wasn’t like this, the topic is more related to poverty, hunger and the land revival and this isn’t communist. This is a natural necessity, a pragmatic challenge in order to regain the lands and cultivate corn, frijol and be able to eat.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish]Rafael Latín, Mayor of Izalco and Sonsonate: “What our grandparents did was because they couldn’t tolerate the hunger, the misery, the marginalization, and the slavery that was imposed on them. Since they started to do so powerfully, the government decided to kill them. They preferred to associate them to communism. But that wasn’t true.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Herbert Erquicia, Director of national museum of archeology: “The latest investigation show that the communist uprising was not like that, it was part of the activities y the communist party and other groups like Red Help Committees. But this discourse agrees more with the left Salvadorians rather than the right. They want to say: “We did the uprising in1932,” and others would say that they are the result of the pressure that was enforced of communism. But in this challenge the communist uprising goes ahead using true actors or agents in the uprising, which are the communities that wanted to benefit the most.”
TIME CODE: 45:00_53:22
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ramón W. Jovel, Analyst in General Production of El Salvador: “It’s not true that the communists of Red Help Committees or the communist party which was established in 1930, on the shore of Lake Ilopango, were the ones who managed peasant resurrection. The reality is that there we had hungry, hopeless people who were disregarded as the indigenous.”
Narration: After putting an end to the uprising the government of Hernandez Martinez started a crackdown process against the opposition. However, he used the mechanisms to minimize the incidents of 1932.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “Hernandez Martinez devised all these atmospheres to persuade the future generations that is never happened and also tried to show that he wasn’t an enemy of the indigenous peoples.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Otto German Mejia, expert at Latin American Philosophy: “The Generals’ respond in containing the uprising was highly extreme. But after the events in 1932, he implemented a cultural indigenous policy.”
Narration: Among the aboriginals, the massacre has irreversible consequences. The massacre injects an atrocious fear in the communities and the Pipils react with panic towards the army.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julio Martinez, Director of the department of anthropology Technological university of El Salvador: “The indigenous peoples had to convert their lives to that of the Ladinos, the most mixed population, in order not to be branded as “Indigenous.” They had to change the way of their speaking and forget about Nahuatl and speak Spanish. The men were turning into workers in the city like carpenters, craftsmen, plumbers, masons and leaving their jobs in the farmlands, forget about being cultivators, agricultures, and the women started to work at houses of the Ladinos people in the cities. So how many people did this? We don’t have any ideas.”
Narration: The Pipils’ own idiosyncrasy crumbled after 1932. The women stopped wearing underskirts, the typical garments of indigenous clothes that are used less every day.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Maria Antonia Perez, Member of Nahuizalco Pipil Community: “We don’t wear underskirts, now we don’t like to wear underskirts.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish]Cristino Ama, Steward of the brotherhood of Chorpus Christi: “First they took their right of being the owners of the lands, secondly they changed the form of their culture.”
Narration: The mass extermination of 1932 brought with itself almost the total loss of Nahuatl language. Today, it is very difficult to recover a language that is hardly spoken in the country. However, there is a will to recover the language since it supposes the cultural wealth. Raul learned Nahuatl as an adult and now teaches the language in Izalco.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish]Raul, Professor of Nahuatl: “The majority knows the most noticeable date “1932” in the January 22, the date that marks radically the moment that Nahuatl disappears in Izalco. Since then the states, national state like the municipalities’ were interested in regaining it. We are the same habitants of the community that are worried about it.
Still some speakers here, there is a municipality called Santo Domingo de Guzman which has the most people who talk the Nahuntal. May be because it’s far from the city and for that has been maintained.
There are many elderly that speak Nahuatl. In our city we are immediate for those who are in Casa Urbana, in the capital, departmental head. The modernism easily has been empowered among youngsters that don’t like to use that language.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish]Rafael Latín, Mayor of Izalco and Sonsonate: “For us the language is really important, the government has started at schools inform the Anahuac language. But what is happening? They are informing it in their own way not like the reality.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish]Raul, Professor of Nahuatl: “But we learn Nauatl by our hearts not to forget our grandparents and how they fought in order to protect our identity.”
Narration: During the recent years, there have been efforts to implement the respect and recognition towards the indigenous communities in El Salvador. The town hall of the community assures that there is still a lot to do.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish]Rafael Latín, Mayor of Izalco and Sonsonate: “The common mayoral is legally constructed in 1949, 1549 sorry from there comes common mayoral, which was recognized by UN, June 12this the anniversary for the legislative assembly by decree to recognize our nation. I only wish that all the villages were here to celebrate this. If there is no government that is the only thing.”
Narration: The indigenous population was disappearing until it was at the point of extinction in the 21th century. After the killing of 1932, the military presence in the region was persistent to keep the peasants under control. The first documents weren’t disqualified until 1960 when the details about the uprisings and the arrests that had been in the shadow till that date were revealed.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ramón W. Jovel, Analyst in General Production of El Salvador: “We didn’t know anything about the massacre in 1932 unless we went to the university and started to hear of the books, for example Anderson, and we started to know about the massacre in 1932. Poets like Roque Dalton and other intellectuals started to talk about the massacre in 1932. On the other hand there was a repression against the aboriginals. The professors in front of the students started to get dressed like Indians. It was prohibited to listen to Indians talking in their language.”
Narration: The 12th of October 2010, the day of the race, at the First National Indigenous Congress, the president Mauricio Funes, apologized to the Salvadorian communities for the brutal incidents of persecution and extermination in the previous governments.