To Rise in Darkness: Revolution, Repression, and Memory in El Salvador, 1920–1932
To Rise in Darkness offers a new perspective on a defining moment in modern Central American history. In January 1932 thousands of indigenous and ladino (non-Indian) rural laborers, provoked by electoral fraud and the repression of strikes, rose up and took control of several municipalities in central and western El Salvador. Within days the military and civilian militias retook the towns and executed thousands of people, most of whom were indigenous. This event, known as la Matanza (the massacre), has received relatively little scholarly attention. In To Rise in Darkness, Jeffrey L. Gould and Aldo A. Lauria-Santiago investigate memories of the massacre and its long-term cultural and political consequences.
Gould conducted more than two hundred interviews with survivors of la Matanza and their descendants. He and Lauria-Santiago combine individual accounts with documentary sources from archives in El Salvador, Guatemala, Washington, London, and Moscow. They describe the political, economic, and cultural landscape of El Salvador during the 1920s and early 1930s, and offer a detailed narrative of the uprising and massacre. The authors challenge the prevailing idea that the Communist organizers of the uprising and the rural Indians who participated in it were two distinct groups. Gould and Lauria-Santiago demonstrate that many Communist militants were themselves rural Indians, some of whom had been union activists on the coffee plantations for several years prior to the rebellion. Moreover, by meticulously documenting local variations in class relations, ethnic identity, and political commitment, the authors show that those groups considered “Indian” in western El Salvador were far from homogeneous. The united revolutionary movement of January 1932 emerged out of significant cultural difference and conflict.
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In 1931 in San Salvador , for example , 150 children attended a Protestant
Sunday school ; in Nahuizalco and Juayúa , despite persecution , the Protestants
were having limited but growing success . In 1930 forty - four Nahuizalqueños ...
Wallace Thompson , for example , wrote : " It is an amusing turn of the tables that
much of the independent labor that works for extra high wages at picking time
comes from the Indian communities where the aborigines have their own huts
This stance is in marked contrast to that of other Central American intellectuals
who welcomed the decline of the indigenous population , for example Salvador
Mendieta . 66 See for example New York Times , 9 July 1914 , I . 305 Notes 67 ...
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