Thursday, March 25, 2004

Reflecting on Romero, and the left

It's far too easy for me to focus on the egotistical politicking of Salvadoran elites --both left and right-- but I'm not always so directly exposed to the everyday lives of those who find comfort in one or another of these political positions. A friend, Kathy Ogle --who, incidentally, translated a wonderful book about Romero, called "Memories in Mosaic" -- observed some of the reactions of the faithful who celebrated the anniversary of Romero and offered these reflections:

"The Romero event yesterday morning was well attended so I assume the afternoon-evening march was as well. I was moved by seeing tears rolling down Evelia's face as she looked at a picture of Monsenor Romero in his little house at Divina Providencia and reflected that El Salvador didn't seem to be much closer to his dreams now than it was in 1980. "Yo realmente creia que este era el momento [I truly thought that this was the moment]," she said. She said she couldn't sleep the night before thinking of how they could have lost so badly. In spite of her early reflexive assertions of fraud as a cause, she also knows that a heck of a lot of people just plain voted ARENA. It's just hard to accept.

Another friend who was an FMLN representative at a polling station in Zacamil told me his first reaction was anger. He thought, "Este pueblo está jodido y merece lo que le venga." [People here are screwed up and deserve what's coming to them.] Then on further reflection he said he decided he was wrong to blame the people.

I'm sure people will be reeling for quite a while and I hope some of the level of reflection that happens in the intellectual and leadership circles also filters down/over to the grassroots. Likewise, I hope the crushing problems and the frustrations of the poor will continue to have a central place in reflections of leadership and analysts. I do feel hopeful that these will both happen."

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