After such an intriguing conversation with my guerrillero friend Saol in El Salvador's capital- Veronica, Achim and I agreed that it was imperative that we visit the former FMLN (Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional- named after the former leftist guerrilla organizer and Salvadoran martyr from the 1930s- Farabundo Marti) stronghold of Perquin- in the northeastern region of the country. We arrived after losing about 5 lbs each in sweat after being stuffed with 23 other people and a panting chicken in the back of a pickup truck (camioneta)- with a black roof panel (of course black- always a good idea to use the color that is best at absorbing heat in a region that sees mid 90 degree temperatures on a daily basis) that enclosed the entire truck with only ventilation for the people hanging off the back or sides of the truck. Just when we thought there was no possible way to fit anyone else in the camioneta five more people would board our truck- then five more - then five more - I think you get the idea. There was a little old lady holding a chicken all the way in the back of the truck that
looked like it was minutes away from meeting its death as a result of heat exhaustion- as it lay there limp in her arms gasping for any steamy, smelly air that was available. Quite an experience- but I figured if the locals travel like this then so can I.
After slamming several bottles of water and finding a place to stay for the night- the three of us checked out the Museum of the Salvadoran Revolution. Perquin was a major FMLN base and was known unofficially as the guerrilla capital during the 12 year civil war that divided this small country. It was often the site of meetings of the leadership of the Frente guerrillas and, after the cease-fire, of important events on the road to peace. One of the more impressionable things I learned from this museum visit was the large role the US (or more specifically- the Reagan administration) played in the devastation of the country. Shortly after being inaugurated in 1981- Reagan funded over $100 million dollars to the Salvadoran military- which resulted in over 70,000 deaths that included firing squads on many civilians. All this violence and blood shed was to thwart a communist threat
Thanks Mikeoso (www.mikeoso.com)
as Reagan predicted El Salvador would follow suite with Cuba and Nicaragua due to FMLN guerrilla movements in the mountain/jungle regions. The workers in the museum were all former guerrillas or mothers of slain war victims and described in graphic detail the hard times during the war of over 12 years. I couldnt help but thinking what a shameful thing for the Reagan administration to do- all that money wasted when it could have been used for more productive things like establishing schools, libraries or teaching the peasants how to cultivate sustainable food in the country- where locals have never had access to these necessities and therefore had no other option but to join the guerrilla movements. Why couldnt the US just peacefully negotiate (which is what happened anyway after all the bloodshed) terms or just stay out of Salvadoran affairs instead of providing monetary aid to fuel the pillage of a tiny third world country? Shame on you Ronald Reagan! I left with a sick feeling in my stomach after hearing about so much suffering (For more detailed info on Reagan's role as a mass murderer in Central America check out this website- http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Ronald_Reagan/RonaldReagan_page.html).
One of the former
guerrillas mentioned that a foundation was created in the recent past to provide economic aid to war veterans- however the administrators were caught stealing money in typical Latin American corrupt fashion and it now ceases to exist.
On a lighter note, upon return to the hostel I ate my seventh pupusa of the day and observed carefully as the cooks prepared the succulent Salvadoran treat. Based on my conversation with the cooks, here is the magic recipe-
1 cup corn flour
1/2 cup water
-mix flour and water until doughish substance is sustained
add queso de pupusa (this is the key ingredient- according to the chefs this is a special cheese only found in El Salvador)
add mucho carino (always necessary)
That night the three of us relaxed as we decided it was time to head to Nicaragua the following day.
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