El Mozote

This article, in its entirety, has been re-posted from www.elsalvadorperspectives.com. The original article can be found here: http://www.elsalvadorperspectives.com/2019/12/the-witnesses-of-el-mozote.html

“Thirty eight years ago today Salvadoran military troops moved on the area of El Mozote and surrounding hamlets in the department of Morazan in northeast El Salvador.  Over the next few days, with savage brutality, they would slaughter almost 1000 civilians, including more than 400 children under the age of 12, the worst massacre in the history of Latin America.

For many years in the English language press, only one witness to the massacre was referred to by name, Rufina Amaya.   She was often described as the sole survivor, although there were others, but she told the story to the world for decades, including how she heard the screams of her children being murdered.  Rufina passed away in 2007.

Today, a major human rights trial proceeds on a slow and steady pace in a courtroom in northeastern El Salvador. The trial has now brought us the testimony of other witnesses, primarily from the other hamlets surrounding El Mozote, who testify either to the killing, to the events leading up to the massacre or its immediate aftermath.

Those witnesses have spoken of the unimaginable loss of family members, witnesses like Don Eduardo Concepción Argueta Márquez, now more than 90 years old, who lost his wife, two sons, a grandchild, uncle and cousin in the massacre.   He returned to El Mozote 15 days after the massacre to find piles of corpses.  He had missed being killed by the happenstance of being in a neighboring town when the Salvadoran troops advanced towards El Mozote.

Antonio Pereira, had no other choice than to remain hidden, without any ability to stop what was happening, as he watched soldiers kill his wife, son and daughter in Los Toriles.  He managed to bury them before fleeing the village where he had lived all his life.

Some recordings of trial testimony of the witnesses, and other reporting about the massacre in El Mozote and surrounding hamlets, is captured in this special section at RevistaFactum.

Earlier this month, the online periodical El Faro released a multi-media presentation of interviews of some of these witnesses to the massacre recorded in the countryside where the events took place.   Included in the El Faro presentation is this 30 minute documentary:

The testimonies of these witnesses help create an historical record of events which must never be forgotten.”

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Article contributed (in Spanish) by Karla Monge.

The last Friday of every month, the education centers of Suchitoto – from the communities of Aceituno, Palo Grande, and Alegría – participate in an event bringing them all together. (Sadly, the education centers of Cabañas are unable to participate because of the distance, as it takes two hours to get to Suchitoto.) The main objective of this event is to carry out cooperative games with the motto, “Working in teams without competition” and making use of the facilities in order to bring more life to the event space called Centro de Recreación Familiar Cassie Stern.

“It’s very lovely because values are promoted with the other education centers, like respect, togetherness, harmony, and a lot more.” – Aminta Arévalo (facilitator of the Palo Grande education center).


This month was no exception. The event was organized by the institution and took place on Friday, November 1, 2019. We also celebrated the theme of the month of October – rural children, youth, women, and adults.

“The activities that are done at the Cassie Center give us an opportunity to develop ourselves as people. They help us to relax and exercise our minds. We are grateful for the space that is offered to us, as it is a very pleasant experience.” – Sonia Hernández, a mother and member of the Palo Grande Educational Center Committee.

We had a very lovely afternoon. There were sales, uniforms were given out, and there were cooperative games and free play. They also formed teams made up of children, women, and men to play soccer. They were surprised by the rain and at the end, they broke open the piñatas. It was a space where we learned, we had fun, and we enjoyed it.


“I like to be here and thank you for the candies.”  – Abi Bonilla, a child from Alegría.


Approximately 80 people attended the event, including children, youth, and adults.

“I like the planning done by the facilitators (Karlita and Heriberto). They don’t repeat games, we don’t get bored, and we participate actively.” – Cristian Osorio, a youth from Palo Grande.





Thank you for being part of this team!

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Children’s Day and Halloween

Article contributed (in Spanish) by Karla Monge.

On Thursday, October 31, 2019, the education center of Cacahuatal, Cabañas, celebrated the youth in the community during the day and Halloween at night. This activity was organized by Esmeralda Acosta (facilitator of the education center), students receiving IP scholarships, the educational center committee, and the ADESCO [community council]. They always support all of the community activities.

At the celebration, there were contests to win a prize and a small snack. There were 60 youths there. All of the entertainment was provided by the students receiving scholarships, who dressed up as clowns and performed a show for the youth.

The resources came from the activities that were done with the facilitator, scholarship students, and the students’ mothers in order to fundraise. Therefore, it was possible to carry out this party.

At night, the mothers of the scholarship students were in charge of sales, and the house of terror was the result of the scholarship students’ creativity. Everyone dressed up as characters. All with the goal of raising money.

Great work, team!

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Celebrating in Aceituno

Article contributed (in Spanish) by Karla Monge

On October 25, 2019, the community of Aceituno, Suchitoto, had a party to celebrate rural children, adults, and women. This activity was organized by library facilitators and the ADESCO [community council] with the goal of celebrating patron saint festivities. It took place at the recreation center called Centro de Recreación Familiar Cassie Stern.

“We feel motivated by this activity, as everyone will be spending time with each other,” expressed Idania Cerón, facilitator of the library and member of the ADESCO.

It was a very fun afternoon where there was a clown, laughter, competitions, piñatas, snacks, time spent together, empathy, and the sale of delicious tamales. Approximately 50 people – children, youths, and adults – attended.

“The celebration is very lovely because we have come to enjoy ourselves and to play,” mentioned Nohemy Hurtado, a child from the community.

The community also learned about activities that will be taking place in the recreation center so that the community would get involved.

“We thank the people who have supported us so that this activity could take place and we hope to always be able to count on your support, as this is a space to practice values,” commented María Rosales, facilitator of the library and member of the ADESCO.

Special thanks to Isaías Ángel (Chistin, the clown), Don René, and all of the community for collaborating with this activity.

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2018 IP Scholarship Recipient Launches Business

Article contributed (in Spanish) by Elba Rodríguez.


“The scholarship was the momentum to get started.  I knew that I didn’t have enough funds, but that was the impetus to take the path toward what I wanted to do.”


In 2018, Brenda Bonilla received an IP scholarship in order to study cosmetology. She had always had that dream; she would do her daughter’s hair, giving her braids and buns. Her dreams included being a cosmetologist, psychologist, or nurse. In fact, Brenda had given a friend of hers (Esmeralda) the idea to apply for an IP scholarship. That’s how she started her own dream of learning cosmetology.

Her studies lasted eleven months, from January-November 2018. Her idea was that once she finished her studies, she would put everything into practice. Little by little, she would buy her supplies. Then, on April 22, 2019, she opened her own cosmetology business in the municipality of San Isidro, Cabañas.  

The salon is open every Tuesday to Sunday from 8am to 5pm. She currently has many clients (mostly women). On a daily basis, she attends to 10-15 people. She has one employee and, in high season, she has two other people who work for her.


Her future goals are expanding her current salon, teaching cosmetology classes (she is already teaching two young women), and she wants to set up another business in the Guacotecti municipality.

She has two kids (Andrea and Leo), and her salon carries the name of her daughter: Andrea. Her cousin Emely designed the logo for the salon, which also has its own Facebook page (Andrea Sala de Belleza).

In reflecting upon how her scholarship has changed her life, she says, “The scholarship was the momentum to get started. I knew that I didn’t have enough funds, but that was the impetus to take the path toward what I wanted to do.”


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Reflections from a July Delegation

International Partners sent another two and a half week delegation of 13 delegates to a village called Alegría about 15 minutes out of Suchitoto in Cuscatlán. The goal of the delegation was to build a shaded community gathering area in front of the biblioteca (library), as pictured, as well as bathrooms connected to the back of the biblioteca, so there was also a significant amount of time spent on digging a 9 foot deep pit for the septic tank. The delegation was successful in finishing the work on the shaded gathering area after mixing countless loads of cement, and also finished the septic tank during our time there. While we did not finish the bathrooms, there was significant progress made there.

The community of Alegría could not have been more welcoming to the delegates, and the bonds that were made have withstood our absence because the delegates and community members are still in contact through WhatsApp. The children of the community also became attached to the delegates and each delegate cycled through working in the biblioteca in the afternoons to read them books and help them with their homework and also to play games. There were many beautiful experiences that were shared through our game nights, soccer games, talents show, visit to Lago Suchitlán, sunrise hike on the last morning, and countless others and it was a truly unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

Emma O’Driscoll
2019 Delegate

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Wrapping up the 2019 Scholarship Spotlight Series

Thank you, dear readers, for following our Scholarship Spotlights during the past few months! We have enjoyed sharing student interviews and goals with you. Fundraising for the 2020 school year has already begun. If you are interested in contributing to our scholarship program, please send an email to our Scholarship Director, Missy Robbins-Passos, at mrobbins@internationalpartners.org. We have students in pre-school, primary school, secondary school, college, and vocational programs who need your help in order to continue their studies. Every dollar makes a big difference! Many thanks again!

Muchas gracias, queridos lectores, ¡por seguir nuestra serie de publicaciones (“Scholarship Spotlights”) durante los últimos meses! Hemos disfrutado compartiendo las entrevistas y metas de nuestros estudiantes con Uds. Ya hemos comenzado a recaudar fondos para el año escolar de 2020. Si le interesa contribuir a nuestro programa de becas de educación, por favor envíe un correo electrónico a nuestra Directora de Becas, Missy Robbins-Passos, a: mrobbins@internationalpartners.org. Tenemos estudiantes estudiando en programas preescolares, primarios, secundarios, universitarios y vocacionales que necesitan su ayuda para continuar sus estudios. ¡Cada dólar hace una gran diferencia! ¡Muchísimas gracias de nuevo!

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Scholarship Spotlight: Alexander (Hacienda Vieja)

Age: 16 years old

Goals for 2019:

  • Learn how to play guitar
  • Learn how to drive a car
  • Learn how to draw well
  • Finish and expand the Project “Friends of Greenie” [Note: This is the name that some scholarship students have given to their community service project.  Greenie refers to the name of an imaginary person they created, to symbolize their caring for the environment as if it were a person.]
  • Dance
  • Graduate

Edad: 16 años

Metas 2019:

  • Aprender a tocar guitarra
  • Aprender a manejar carro
  • Aprender a dibujar bien
  • Lograr terminar y expandir el proyecto “Amigos de Verdito”
  • Bailar
  • Graduarme
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Scholarship Spotlight: Luis (Hacienda Vieja)

Age: 11 years old

Goals for 2019:

  • Pass my grade level
  • Make new friends
  • Behave the best I can and, if I change, do it for the better

Edad: 11 años

Metas 2019:

  • Pasar de grado
  • Hacer nuevos amigos
  • Comportarme lo mejor que pueda y si cambio hacerlo para bien
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Scholarship Spotlight: Ivania (Hacienda Vieja)

Age: 20 years old

Goals for 2019:

  • Pass my classes
  • Be able to play a song on the guitar
  • Read books

Edad: 20 años

Metas 2019:

  • Pasar las materias
  • Poder tocar una canción con la guitarra
  • Leer libros
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