Saturday, January 22, 2005

Anniversary of La Matanza

Today is the 73rd anniversary of "La Matanza", the massacre of 10,000 to 40,000 peasants by the armed forces of General Martinez. An uprising of Indians and campesinos revolted against oppression by the land-owning elite. Led by Farabundo Marti (for whom the FMLN is named) the revolt was brutally put down in January 1932 by the military.

Yesterday I wrote about the deep divisions and rigidity of ARENA and the FMLN in dealing with each other. The memory of La Matanza still influences how the parties of the right and of the left view each other:

The "matanza" of 1932--the massacre of 10,000 to 40,000 peasants in response to an uprising organized by Communist leader Augustin Farabundo Marti...was a central turning point in the history of the country, an event that deeply influenced the Right and the Left's view of their enemies in the violent decades to come. The massacre demonstrated the brutal lengths to which the regime that was established over the preceding decades would go to defend the status quo and also instilled a reactionary fear of communism in those who were determined to preserve their societal status.

Bland, Gary. 1992. "Assessing the transition to democracy." Tulchin, Joseph S. with Gary Bland, eds. 1992. Is there a transition to democracy in El Salvador? Boulder: Westview Press, Page 167

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