i've taken a couple of emails that i was able to send out to a few people while on my trip to el salvador and nicaragua, but i wanted to be able toshare some of the experiences that i had with all y'all...so, here goes.
WARNING...SOME OF THIS MATERIAL IS VERY GRAPHIC.
thursday, 08 january, 2004 (email)
yesterday was by far the hardest day of my trip.i saw the actual pictures of the 6 murdered jesuit priests and the 2 women who were seeking safety within the university of central america'swalls...it was the most gruesome thing that i have ever seen.
i started to shake and cry instantaneously. one of the priests had his hand blown off because he was trying to protect himself, i'm guessing...another had thetop portion of his head blown off. another priest's face had part of it stripped and his eyes were frozen into a terrified stare...i can still seeit in my head. for a short period of time, i had to actually remove myself from the place where we were looking at the photos...then come backafter i was able to calm down a little bit. after seeing the pictures, we toured the dormatory rooms that the priests lived in and the room that the two women were staying in.
this whole situation is completely repugnant and incomprehensible...
these people were dragged out of their homes and killed so brutally that they were not recognizable...and i am certain that the mother was raped and her daughter was killed while praying...from theway that they were positioned in the photographs...what would drive anyone to do such things to another human being? i don'tunderstand it at all...i doubt i ever will. it was so horrible...the wholetime that we were there, i felt a huge weight on my heart and my stomach was definately doing flips.
later on in the day, we visited the site of where monseñor romero was killed. there was a nun that was about 4 foot 6 who told us about him, but when we were walking to romero's home, she approached me and asked mewhere i was from and if i could speak spanish, but i told her that my spanish was not the greatest so she started speaking english and asked me again where i was from, so i told her where and that my dad was from india and that my mother's family comes from norway and germany and she smiled really sweetly and said that i was very special.
i've never thought of myself that way before...it definately took my by surprise and it made me smile a lot...i asked her about herself and she told me that she was from honduras and so was her family and that she was very happy to be in elsalvador...during this whole time, she grabbed my hand and held it...one of my classmates took a cute picture of us =) sister benedita told us the story of romero and how he had changed her life and was still present inher life through the people he has touched in life and in death and it was so beautiful that i started to cry again. she had the most amazing eyes...they were kind of gray...but not the clouded over gray look that old people get...they were just gray...like a wise, powerful color of gray.
*CO-MADRES is an organization that is made up of mostly women who went around looking for the disappeared. they returned the bodies to the families so they could properly bury and grieve for those who were murdered. they also took pictures and documented on everyone they found so that they could seek legal justice for the crimes that were committed.they and their families were also victims of kidnapping, torture, and murder at the hands of the salvadoran government and national army.
the army was trained at the school of the america's (which is located in the u.s.) and our government/along with the c.i.a. also paid for the arms/supplies for the salvadoran army with u.s. money and money that wasmade by drug trafficing done by the c.i.a.
*friday, 09 january, 2004 (journal entry)
my heart sheds millions of tears as i listen to two incredible women's personal stories about their struggles during the Arms Conflict and after. Alicia had lost half of her family and was physically tortured...we heard the story of her sixteen year old son and how he was brutally murdered because he helped the families of the disappeared and murdered find information and seek justice for the crimes made against them and their loved ones.
during one of the times that alicia was kidnapped and tortured, she was given a forced abortion. she was 5 months pregnant...but because they beat her and tortured her, she lost her baby. Patricia was only 10 years old when she became involved with the CO-MADRES. a few years later, she was kidnapped, raped and tortured, then released. she still stuck with the organization and was kidnapped, again, and raped and tortured again....the pain in these women's eyes as they told their stories was...so intense...yet, the still told us. despite the fact that it must feel worse than pouring salt into an open wound...the CO-MADRES were only trying to help those in need (as well as themselves) find peace and justice and they suffered greatly for it.
they photographed everything they saw and kept track of how many people had been killed or disappeared.i saw a lot of the photos of the murdered. it was so horrible. i was so shocked at what i was looking at that all i could do was shake and keep looking. i needed to see all of these images...these realities...i owed it to the people who suffered under the hands of my own government. i needed to see because i need to be able to share the Salvadoran struggle with everyone back home. so, i forced myself to look at decapitated men, women, and children.
i forced myself to look at extremities that were no longer recognizable because these men, women and children tried to protect themselves from the guns, acid, fire, fists, knives, boots, etc. i saw children with the skin on their chests and backs stipped clean to the bone because acid was poured on them. some people were run over by tanks, someset on fire, some were viciously tortured before finally being alllowed death...to give them peace. women and young girls were brutally raped infront of family members and men and young boys were beaten in their testicles..some had their penises cut of and shoved down their mouths so that they not only bled to death, but suffocated as well. fingertips were burned with lighters, acid poured into eyes...these are the pictures that i saw..this is the reality of el salvador...this is what i will never forget. this is what so many people back home don't know about...and if they do know, they aren't doing a very good job letting everyone else know. this needs to be heard...this can't be forgotten...or it will be repeated again.
but then again, things like this happened during world war two...so can we stop it from happening?
i don't know...maybe. but i can'tjust sit and be complacent. i can't do nothing.
wednesday, 14 january, 2004 (email)
so, when i was at this co-operative community called nueva esperanza (newhope) we spent an afternoon with the youth of the community and i had an interesting experience with one of the boys that i met. he is the same ageas me and his name is william. he asked me what i am studying and i told him sociology and political science and then he responded by telling me that he can´t go to university because there is not enough money to send all of the youth. i really didn´t know how to respond to him, but i called cesar (our translator) over and asked him to tell william that i want to go back to the u.s. and let everyone know the struggles and realities of the people of el salvador so that we can create awareness and help make change for the people...but he didn´t really look very impressed....then i felt like an arrogant u.s. american. i felt really bad about that...
i want everyone to know that i am sincere and that i don´t want to magically fix everything for them, but rather work side by side with them in theirstruggle to help things improve because i recognize the part that i have played, through my government and globalization, in their struggle and i want it to be different. i don´t want to bring the people up to the standards of the u.s. because that would be insane and the world would explode if everyone had two-story homes and 3 car garages, etc.
but instead, i want people in the u.s. to stop being like adolescents that always are wanting more and more things and not recognizing the selfishness and over consumption. i want the u.s. to grow up and be adults and start being a nurturing nation that will work side by side with its own people and the other nations that we have involved ourselves with.that is what i have learned today from a really cool nun. she is from jersey and rocks. she said things like, "if you still think that god has a penis, then you need to grow up"
...this woman was amazing and very refreshing and inspiring... it was good to talk to a fellow u.s. citizen and talk about the struggles of the people in el salvador. i really enjoyed her energy and passion for life and peace and justice...but it isn't just the u.s. that needs to change. it's every other nation that is acting like that. we need to be a nurturing country. we need to stop this selfishness...the gluttenous behavior...we need to start caring.
if we'resuch a huge super-power, then why aren't we doing better things around the world?
...basic human rights...what are they? what do we define them as? i think of basic human rights being the following:
enough food to eat everyday.
now, this may not have to mean that everyonehas the option to have all sorts of food available to them all thetime...no, enough food (according to me) constitutes as 3 meals a day that are sufficient enough to give the nutrients that we all need to survive.
access to clean water.
this whole business of privatizing water is bullshit. i'm sorry, but it is. we all need water to survive...clean water.
education (at least k-12, but i'm all for higher education for all).
why do you think that there's crime and gangs, etc. when there are so many kids that could be in school, out on the streets trying to survive. this doesn't make any sense?
access to basic health care.
i'm not saying that doctors and nursesshould work for free...but there shouldn't be children dying from diarrhea and other preventable diseases. that is just ridiculous.i know that all of these things are more complicated than i'm making it out to be...but at the same time, i don't think that they are that hard to provide for people....the answers are often times simple...but organizations like the IMF (international monetary fund) and the world bank are making it harder for so many people world wide to have these things...and all for what? money? again, this is bullshit.
i'm not againstprivate businesses, but i'm against monopolies. i'm against 3 families owning 90% of the wealth. i'm against the whole fact that only 1/3rd ofthe world is really "developed" and only because it takes from the rest of the 2/3rds of the world in order to be developed. 2/3rds of the world should not be in poverty, should not have basic human rights denied to them.
i'm sorry if this sounds like i'm ranting and raving...just kidding. i'm not sorry.
i'm pissed off. i'm frustrated, i'm feeling helpless/hopeless/angry.....but at the same time i feel motivated/inspired/pressed for time to act.
i'm impatient and i want change. i know that change takes time, but i'm tired of sitting around.
i want to act and that's what i plan on doing. i'm going to tell as that i can about my experiences...i'm going to continue my education and i'm going into foreign policy because, frankly...the u.s.foreign policy that we currently has...well, for lack of a better word, SUCKS.
so, i'm infiltrating it from the inside and i'm going to make change. and to all those who tell me i can't do it...well, piss off. i don't need your encouragement. i'm going to do it, and you're going to have to come up with a lot more to change my mind or stop me.
ok. i'll end my email now. thank you so much for reading it all the way through.
i know a lot of it was graphic and not exactly easy to digest...i haven't fully dealt or processed everything that i've experienced/learned/etc...i guess with time it will get easier to deal with...but then again, maybe it won't. if anyone would like to talk more about my trip with me, i'll be glad to share...but remember that this was not a vacation...and some of the things that i learned are hard for me to share...just please be patient with me.