In the department of Chalatenango, El Salvador there is a small town just a few miles from Guarjila. This town was also repopulated during the civil war and was named Ignacio Ellacuría after Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J. who was a Jesuit priest, philosopher, and theologian who did important work as a professor and rector at the Universidad Centroamericana "José Simeón Cañas" (the UCA), the Jesuit university in El Salvador founded in 1965, and who was killed in the November 16, 1989 attack on the UCA along with five of his brother Jesuits and two women colleagues.
During the civil war the town suffered a horrible attack from the Salvadoran military. In this attack children and many of their families were killed by a mortar attack on the stone building to which they had gone for shelter.
The community is currently being challenged by the potential of being destroyed by outside mining interests:
The hillsides included in the Ojo Blanco licence are still marked by the mining
company Martinique, although its workers have been inactive for months.
Company employees have not reentered the region since they were stopped by
the organized communities of the CCR (Association of Rural Communities for
the Development of Chalatenango) on their way to explore territories to the
south of the community of Ignacio Ellacuría. That day in October the miners
were surrounded by the people of the communities, and escorted out of the
region. However, the small metal marking signs the company left behind still
litter the hills around San José Las Flores, Ignacio Ellacuría, and Guarjila. The
markers remain as a reminder of the ongoing permission the company has from
the Ministry of the Economy to explore the zone for mineral deposits.
The people believe that the hills of Chalatenango are witness to struggle and
suffering of their people, soaked by the blood of so many who were killed, and
are a symbol of the struggle of the poor in El Salvador for the right to land on
which to live and grow food. As such, the people of the communities consider
these hills sacred, not to be sold to exploring transnational companies and later
leveled in the search of what gold the Spaniards couldn’t extract upon their
arrival 500 years ago.
IFCLA works with a community in Milwaukee to support this small community in its struggle for survival.
If you are interested in Ellacuría or would just like some more information, contact the office.
This community is just one example of the struggles faced by people affected by mining interests and the results of the Free Trade Agreements. To read more about the CCR communities in Chalatenango, El Salvador click here.