El Salvador is the only country in Latin America with troops supporting the US intervention in Iraq. Two Salvadoran soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and one of them is then son of Herminia Ramos of Guayamango. I've described her story before on this blog.
Now the Los Angeles Times has published an article describing her efforts protesting the Iraq war:
The only thing Herminia Ramos wanted from the army was her son's pension Â exactly $200 a month. She figured she deserved the money now, seeing how he gave his life wearing an army uniform, fighting in a war halfway around the world in Iraq.
The Salvadoran army said no.
Ramos said she felt abandoned. Left with her thoughts in her sparse cinderblock home, and five other children to support, she quickly came to a conclusion: No other parent should have to feel this way.
She signed her name to a letter demanding that El Salvador remove its troops from Iraq. Then she personally delivered it to the national legislature and the offices of conservative President Tony Saca. In the process, the quiet peasant has become the most potent symbol of this country's small antiwar movement....
When Ramos contacted a local minister about her concerns over the war, peace activists drafted a letter of protest in her name.
"I consider her to be one of our Salvadoran heroines," said Bishop Medardo Gomez of the Lutheran Church of El Salvador. "She is a poor woman of few words whose pain led her to speak out. She's dared to stand up to the powerful, to our government and, above all, to the military."
In a comment, El Visitador appropriately chastises me for leaving out some facts which appear in the Los Angeles Times article and an article in Diario CoLatino. First, the Army did build a new cinderblock house for Herminia Ramos (although it lacks electricity or water, and the promised land for her to raise crops is 30 kilometers away). Second, there was a $7000 life insurance policy paid her by the Army on her son's life, which has now been spent. Third, she will receive her son's pension, but not until she turns 55 in 8 years.
Obviously none of these things compensates a mother fully for the loss of a son fighting another nation's war.