Throughout El Salvador, communities of squatters, are forced to live on land which is not theirs, land which is in peril, land on the margins. A recent article from the Episcopal News Service tells their story through the lens of one such community:
One hundred eighty-nine families displaced by a natural disaster have laid claim to a narrow strip of land situated between the Pan-American Highway and a dozen abandoned, government-owned grain silos a 25-minute drive east of San Salvador.
They live in shacks constructed of tin, mud, discarded construction materials and sometimes building materials salvaged from their previous homes. Heavy rains and mudslides caused by Hurricane Ida in 2009 washed away the ground and in some cases their homes out from under them. The people fled in the night as the storm gained strength and homes crumbled off cliffs into a ravine. A 2-month-old baby, her mother and grandmother were buried alive, along with an elderly man whose body went unrecovered.
After the storm, the families, united by 36 years of living in community, decided unanimously to move to the abandoned strip of land, which lacked basic services – water, sanitation and electricity – thus joining a much larger population of 10,000 landless people living along the bustling highway. They called the community La Anemona, or “the anemone.”
“We came here when we saw our land was disintegrating because, if there would have been a tremor or an earthquake, it would have destroyed our homes,” said Carmen Milagro Flores, a community leader. “This was the only unoccupied piece of land.”Read the rest here.