IZALCO, El Salvador – With an ancestral ceremony and a united cry for justice, members of the indigenous peoples of western El Salvador recalled on Monday the thousands of victims of the 1932 massacre of Indians and peasants carried out on the orders of dictator Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez.
The ruins of the La Asuncion church, known as El Llanito, in the western town of Izalco, was the site where at least 100 Indians gathered from five towns decimated in the repression ordered by Hernandez Martinez, who ruled the country from 1935-1944.
There, where the great majority of the victims were buried, the attendees worshipped Mother Earth, the wind and the Sun and paid tribute to the fallen, who had opposed the stealing of their lands and had defended the dignity of their families.
The massacre came after a popular insurrection headed by Indians and peasants and launched to reject electoral fraud and a reform that took their communal lands from them.
Margarita Guillen, a member of the Izalco indigenous community authority, who was on hand for the ceremony, told EFE that – for the participants – commemorating the date means “not forgetting where” they come from and “reminding all of society” that their “struggle continues amid so much adversity.”
“We’re commemorating this date ... for our massacred grandparents ... They were not communists, they were people who lived united, who shared their food and their lands for raising crops,” she said.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Izalco, Rafael Latin, told EFE that the event also represents a commitment by the original peoples of western El Salvador to “show our ancestors” that they have not been forgotten.
He said that 86 years after the massacre, El Salvador’s indigenous peoples “remain marginalized and their rights continue to be violated” despite the fact that in July 2014 the country’s legislature ratified a constitutional reform that acknowledged their existence.
Some 25,000 to 30,000 people were killed in the massacre and the participants at the ceremony on Monday said they were asking the Salvadoran government to promise to investigate the issue “so that impunity does not prevail in the deaths of our ancestors.”
The Salvadoran statistics and census directorate revealed in a 2007 study that about one million Indians live in the Central American country representing 17 percent of the population.
The indigenous peoples of El Salvador include the Nahuas, Pipiles, Lenca, Kakawiras and Maya-Chortis tribes.