How a Salvadoran market became the soul of a community — and now fights to survive.
When the first settlers came to El Salvador in the mid-19th century, they brought their cattle with them, along with crops, tools, and livestock. But when the farmers first arrived they didn’t have the technology they needed to make the crops grow. Without the knowledge of how to prepare the soil, the crops wouldn’t grow properly. And the cattle grew slowly.
Today, in the El Salvador that people call the miracle or, as one historian refers to it, the land of opportunities, you can buy a home or a car. You can grow food or raise animals. You can go to college. You know that if you want good jobs, you have to learn how to do the work.
You can eat in restaurants that are open 365 days a year, or buy food from a grocery store that is open two or three times a week. You can order in your favorite restaurant to take the children out to dinner at the theater. And you can get a ride to a doctor’s appointment or go to the bank, or buy tickets on a Sunday to an event.
These are the economic advances, but the people that you and I represent, and the families who we represent, have not had these advances. They live in shacks, they don’t have a car, they don’t have a refrigerator. They don’t have the opportunity that we’re living with today. They eat corn and beans for a week or two, and then they eat nothing.
“The Salvadoran community is experiencing a human right crisis and a structural crisis,” says Lourdes Jimenez, the executive director of LULAC, or the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is the oldest civil rights organization in the country.
The problem in El Salvador is that the government of El Salvador, which has been ruled by one party for decades, created such a system that it didn’t provide for the basic needs of its population. The community wasn’t able to get the basic necessities that an individual needs – food, shelter, education, healthcare, transportation, or even clothing. The government didn’t give