Based on the past 3 hours since I got here, these next several days are going to be full of so many crunchy gooey nuggets of goodness that I better get started writing them down now! On the drive from the airport to Estela’s house (where we were welcomed by refrescos, 2 cats, and a jumping Mochachino, the dog) she began to explain to me a bit more about why Guajoyo and all of El Salvador for that matter is in the state it is in. It is quite possible that all of this had been explained to me before, but it’s amazing how being in a place makes things make sense in a whole new way.
Anyways, during the 70s and 80s the government of El Salvador, which had been made up of tyrants and dictators anyways, for all intents and purposes dissolved, leaving the pueblo, or the people, to fend for themselves in terms of health, education, transportation, and jobs. While a war was being fought between the left and right, the people had to figure things out on their own. They created these incredible microgovernments in what was called the Popular Front, where people who knew how to read and write in a community suddenly became in charge of education, people who knew about medicine organized their community’s health, and so forth. They did what they had to do in the absence of government.
But with the end of the war and the first democratic elections in 1994, the returning government now had a functioning and very strong popular movement to contend with. People had been given a voice in their government, and they weren’t about to have it taken away from them. So the result is now an extremely divided country, and Guajoyo is in the precarious position of straddling those two factions.
Guajoyo is located in the San Vicente municipality, which has been very conservative since the war, but Guajoyo itself is a very leftist community, with an extremely active and functioning directiva, or community council. In fact, San Vicente did not even recognize the existence of Guajoyo until recently because the municipality does not want to provide needed support to Guajoyo, such as funding for schools, roads, and sanitation (they finally did recognize its existence when a law changed that meant they could start taxing them). So Guajoyo actually receives some support from a neighboring municipality, a left leaning municipality that is willing to provide for these ‘crazy left wing communists.’
Sounds mildly familiar, doesn’t it Austinites?
When we got to the house Estela gave me a great book that uses simple terms and images to explain the history of El Salvador, so maybe after tonight’s reading I’ll have a cartoon or two to offer. But for now, just the view from the bedroom window. There’s just nothing quite like a mountain in your backyard…