Resistant Women: Indigenous Women Remember El Salvador’s 1932 Insurrection

This year marks the eighty-three year anniversary of the 1932 insurrection in El Salvador, the largest in Latin America during the Great Depression. On January 22, indigenous and non-indigenous peasants declared themselves the rightful owners of the land, and alongside leaders such as Julia Mojica and Feliciano Ama, occupied villages and military barracks in the western departments of El Salvador. Margarita Turcios remembers how the rebels declared: “[we’re] going to be the owners of the properties of the rich…To have freedom, to have a place to work.” In response, President General Martínez, and the National Guard massacred 10,000-30,000 people in a country with a total population of 1.5 million; the exact figure is debated due to the scarcity of sources and the absence of a body count.

On February 28th, the Museum of the Word and Image (MUPI) in San Salvador inaugurated a new exhibition titled, “1932” which is composed of photographs, letters and objects from labor leaders, paintings and artistic installations, and the testimonies of elders who survived the repression. “1932” explores the socio-economic inequalities of early twentieth-century El Salvador, including the labor conditions which women workers faced on coffee plantations, and also introduces a new gendered focus: the impact of terror on indigenous women.

Julia Mojica successfully led troops in Sónzocate and fought off the National Guard.

Julia Mojica successfully led troops in Sónzocate and fought off the National Guard.

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