SAN SALVADOR – Each Nov. 1, people visit Cuscatlan Park in the Salvadoran capital to remember their loved ones who died or disappeared without a trace during the 1980-1992 civil war and whose names are inscribed on one of the walls at the site.
On the eve of the Day of the Dead, which is celebrated in El Salvador on Nov. 2, various social organizations accompanied the relatives, who still hope to get some clue to the fates of their loved ones who were “disappeared” and murdered during the conflict.
Manuel de Jesus Morales traveled to Cuscatlan Park from the southeastern town of San Francisco Chimaneca with his wife and 1-year-old daughter, a regular pilgrimage he has made for a little over four years to see the inscribed name of his father and one of his brothers.
Morales said that his father has been missing for 28 years and his brother was murdered by a Salvadoran army unit.
“We’re 10 siblings, minus one who died in the war. My mother fled with us when my father disappeared because she was afraid that the (military) would kill us ... She died still hoping to bury my father and so I’m here remembering my relatives,” he said.
Morales, along with 40 other people, participated in an ecumenical memorial celebration for the missing performed on Tuesday by representatives of the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches, as well as by social organizations such as the Asociacion Pro Busqueda.
After the ceremony, each participant approached the monument to the “fallen,” where they placed roses of different colors as symbols of love, hope and justice.
Marta Aguilar lost her 18-year-old brother Carlos during the war.
“He left the house and we never saw him again ... We want to know where he is because there are things you don’t forget and, to date, we know nothing about his whereabouts,” Aguilar said.
Carlota Ramirez’s father, a brother, two nephews and her brother-in-law were all disappeared, and another brother and a sister were killed.
“All this occurred between May 2 and Aug. 8, 1982. Since then, we don’t know anything about any of them ... They took them all from our house, on the slopes of the San Salvador volcano,” she said.
According to the head of the Asociation Pro Busqueda, Eduardo Garcia, more than 50,000 names are engraved on the mural at Cuscatlan Park.
The war the government fought against the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front left some 75,000 dead and 8,000 people missing.
“This is a monument to the murdered and disappeared victims ... where the families pay tribute to their relatives and where they come to place flowers for a disappeared person because they don’t have the location of the body,” Garcia said.
On Wednesday, thousands of Salvadorans will visit different cemeteries around the Central American nation to place flowers and other offerings on the graves of their loved ones.