Seventy-seven years ago on this day in people’s history, a peasant led insurrection broke out in the northwestern region of El Salvador. On January 22nd, 1932, with the Central American nation in the grip of the dictatorship of Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez, rebels in the poverty-stricken countryside rose up in arms with the encouragement of the Salvadoran Communist Party. Resisting against military rule that had dashed any hopes of continuing the political liberalization of the 1920’s in El Salvador or of addressing the extreme stratification of land ownership, the peasant uprising was savagely crushed. Between 10,000 and 40,000 people were killed by the military dictatorship that authored a killing so wanton that it has become known as La Matanza or simply the massacre. In the ensuing repression, Augustin Farabundo Marti, a communist organizer of the uprising, was executed and worker organizations were outlawed as society became even more authoritarian by clamping down on political freedoms.
La Matanza was the seminal event in the history of El Salvador in the twentieth century – a country named “the Savior” but that has all too often been forsaken.