Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Romero vive, la lucha sigue!

The following reflection was written by Joe Miller, master's student at Boston College and member of the Paulist Center's sister committee, after his participation in the March 2010 Romero delegation, commemorating the 30th anniversary of Monseñor Romero's martyrdom.

Romero vive, la lucha sigue! Romero lives, the struggle continues. In some ways, the situation in El Salvador is better than twenty years ago. The civil war has ended; whole parts of San Salvador are not under siege, and for the first time in the country’s history, a progressive president is in office. But still, the shanty towns exist. Health care continues to be far out of reach for the majority. Community leaders who oppose gold mining in the rural areas are being assassinated. Gang violence and theft abound, and El Salvador has the highest murder rate in the Western Hemisphere (about 12 murders a day); and one of the highest in the world, and some people are still hungry or at least struggle to provide food for their family. Because the danger is now more clandestine, and not ‘in-your-face’ as during the war, one can no longer assume they are in a safe area just because there’s no visible military, paramilitary, or rebel presence.

What has not changed, and maybe even gotten stronger, over the almost 20 years since the Peace Accords, is the hope the Salvadoran people have for liberation – for a lasting, true, and just peace. When I first told my grandmother that I spent part of her gift to me on a plane ticket to El Salvador, she asked me, “why would you do such a thing – it’s so dangerous and unstable down there!” My response did not come out exactly in the same way, but I knew that part of the reason I resolved to travel to El Salvador to commemorate Monseñor Romero’s martyrdom was tied up in how he is such an inspirational spiritual figure for me; and traveling there to be with the people as they remember their own ‘Good Shepherd’ was simply something I had to do.
I would encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about El Salvador to get involved with the sister community. When he was receiving frequent death threats Monseñor once said that as a Christian, he did not believe in death without resurrection. “If they kill me, I will rise in the Salvadoran people.”

This is an undeniable fact. Romero has indeed risen in the more than 50,000 people who marched on the streets in the memorial procession on March 21; in the people of the department of Cabanas who are resisting the exploitation of their land by gold mining companies; in Alirio, of the village of San Isidrio, who no longer sleeps at home due to the death threats he has been receiving for nine months; and surely in the small boy in San Salvador who sold pens to our group as we ate lunch; the man who we all bought ice cream from in Parque Cuscatlán. Yes, the struggle for justice still continues. But I cannot help but add onto the chant I began this reflection with:

Romero vive, la lucha sigue con esperanza!
Romero lives, the struggle continues with hope!

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