El Mozote: Celebrating Resilience and Life
On Saturday, December 13th, hundreds of people made the pilgrimage to the site of one of the bloodiest massacres during the Salvadoran armed conflict. The massacre at El Mozote in 1981 ended the lives of close to 900 men, women, and children. The youngest child brutally murdered that day was three days old. For decades, the Salvadoran government denied and covered up this travesty.The El Mozote Massacre has come to emblemize the violations of human rights that took place at the hands of the national military during the 12 years of the armed conflict.
The event this past Saturday evoked the memory of the lives lost 33 years ago. However, more than anything, the crowd celebrated the resilience and present life of the Salvadoran people. Symbolically, the commemoration demonstrated that no force can truly kill a collective strong spirit, nor halt a people’s movement towards justice, equity, and human dignity.
This notion is naturally and tangibly captured in one of the only buildings left standing today from the massacre. On the corner adjacent to the church, one can still see the bullet holes left on the exterior wall of the now crumbling structure. The gray of the concrete is solemn and shocking. However, the image that catches more attention is the lively green vines crawling along the entire surface offering to heal the 33 year-old wounds and bring life back to the building.
The Salvadoran military, specifically the Atlacatl Battalion, thought by draining the civilian-filled pond on December 11th, 1981 they were ending life. In a concrete sense, they did end over 900 lives that day. However, what they intended to be a screeching stop to the popular movement served as a catalyst that still propels the Salvadoran people today to work towards a life where no one is oppressed, where all have equal opportunity, and where all life is considered sacred. May we continue to move forward justly with the lives lost at El Mozote as our inspiration.