From 1979 until 1992, El Salvador was mired in a civil war that left 75,000 people dead and untold numbers displaced or unaccounted for. It was a conflict marked by extravagant violence: On December 11, 1981, in the mountain village of El Mozote, the Salvadoran army raped, tortured, and massacred nearly 1,000 civilians, including many children. News of the killings didn’t reach the United States until January 27, 1982, the same day the Reagan administration announced El Salvador was making a “significant effort to comply with internationally recognized human rights.” Washington continued to pump aid into the regime—$4 billion over 12 years.
Part of what made the war so complicated, at least for US interests, was the ultimatum it seemed to present: Defeat the guerillas at any cost or lose the country to communism. In the twilight of the Cold War, any threat of a domino effect in the region—Nicaragua had already fallen to the Sandinistas—was too ominous for Washington to bear. By backing El Salvador’s right-wing junta and, by extension, its paramilitary death squads, the United States created a conundrum for journalists: how to document a war whose maneuvers and motivations were kept deliberately murky?
Photographer Donna De Cesare traveled to El Salvador in 1987 to “witness and report on war, with all the earnest idealism and naïvete of youth,” as she puts it in her new photo book Unsettled/Desasosiego. What she couldn’t have known at the time was how the experience would shape the next 20 years of her life. She visited refugee camps in Honduras, Jesuit killings on the campus of Central American University, a morgue in Guatemala City. Her work—like that ofLarry Towell and Susan Meiselas—is essential to understanding a chapter in Central America’s history that is too often whitewashed or denied.
After peace accords were signed in 1992, she shifted her focus to the refugee diaspora in Los Angeles, roaming the tense battleground of the 18th street and Mara Salvatrucha (or MS-13) gangs. There she found an extension and continuation of El Salvador’s turmoil—vigilante justice and honor killings were the rule of law. Gang members broadcast their allegiances via facial tattoos and hand signs, at least until the Sombra Negra (black shadow) death squads began targeting “homeboys” who were deported back to El Salvador. From 1998 to 2005, at least 46,000 such deportees found themselves marooned in Central America’s volatile barrios. As De Cesare notes, there are more than 4.5 million small firearms in Central America, the majority of them illegally owned. And 80 percent of homicides in Guatemala and El Salvador are carried out with such weapons. “What determines whether suffering is turned toward cruelty, or toward resistance and resilience?” she writes. As her photographs testify, such subtle distinctions erode during wartime.
Donna De Cesare won the Mother Jones International Photo Fund Award for Social Documentary in 1999. That same year, her photos accompanied a story about how tougher US immigration policy was forcing many refugees back to dangerous homelands. The images and caption information for this photoessay are fromUnsettled/Desasosiego, recently published by University of Texas Press. For more information about De Cesare’s work in El Salvador, go to her website, Destiny’s Children.
Re-blogged from the Mother Jones Article:
Environment for the Americas was created as a result of International Migratory Bird Day’s success. Created in 1993, the celebration has grown to become much more than a one day event. Over 450 events are now hosted from South America to Canada, materials are available year-round, and other projects and programs have been developed to increase bird conservation education.. As a result of Bird Day’s growth, sponsors could no longer house the program. In 2006, formal steps were taken to create a 501(c)(3) organization to provide a permanent home for Bird Day and other exciting efforts. That organization is Environment for the Americas (EFTA)! Today, EFTA works with partners and programs throughout the Western Hemisphere.
At EFTA we strive to make bird conservation education available throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Our Goals are to:
•Create the framework educators need to host bird-focused programs, events, and festivals;
•Develop education materials about birds and their conservation;
•Serve as a network for the exchange of information about successful bird conservation education programs;
•Motivate the public to become involved in bird conserva
1. “It’s terrifying. We are seeing in America these terrible rallies occurring where the people are becoming violent. Now, democracy should be robust, but it certainly shouldn’t be violent. And I think the Donald Trump phenomenon is a real problem for the United States — it’s making their democracy look kind of weird.” — Christopher Pyne, an Australian government minister, in comments reported March 17.
2. “Whether Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen or Geert Wilders — all these right-wing populists are not only a threat to peace and social cohesion, but also to economic development.” — German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, in an interview published March 6.
3. “The fact is, Cape Breton is lovely all times of the year and if people do want to make choices that perhaps suit their lifestyles better, Canada is always welcoming and opening.” — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on March 7, regarding the possibility of Americans fleeing to his country if Trump wins.
4. “I can only hope that the election campaign in the USA does not lack the perception of reality… The world’s security architecture has changed and it is no longer based on two pillars alone. It cannot be conducted unilaterally.” — German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on April 28, in reference to Trump’s “America first” message.
5. “Saying the U.S. will no longer engage in anything that is a burden in terms of its relationships with allies, it would be almost like abandoning those alliances … It will inevitably give rise to anti-American sentiment worldwide.” — Former South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Sung-han, in quotes published April 29, on Trump’s isolationist leanings.
6. “What needs to be pointed out is that the essence of Sino-US trade and business cooperation is mutually beneficial and win-win, and accords with the interests of both sides. We hope people in all fields can rationally and objectively view this relationship.” — Hong Lei, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman at the time, on May 4. He declined to comment directly on the 2016 race.
7. “For the life of me, I cannot believe that a country like the United States can afford to have someone as president who simply says, ‘These people are not going to be allowed to come to the United States.” — Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to the United States, on May 5, regarding Trump’s proposed Muslim ban.
8. “In the presidential elections, there are arguments whether the United States is going for the isolationist stance. I don’t want to see that kind of United States. I want to see the United States to be strong and come with a strong robust position, not really thinking of the United States only.” — Kenichiro Sasae, Japan’s ambassador to the U.S., on May 6.
9. “It turns out that Trump is not the rough-talking, screwy, ignorant candidate they say he is, but is actually a wise politician and a prescient presidential candidate.” — A May 31 column in DPRK Today, a mouthpiece of the reclusive, deeply anti-American regime in North Korea, after the Republican nominee suggested the U.S. should pull its troops from South Korea unless Seoul pays it more.
10. “Today in the 21st century, here in the United States, a climate of intolerance is sending a similar message: Mexicans go home. Separate those who are different, blame the minorities, demonize the stranger.” — Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Mexico’s foreign minister, on June 6, in a speech that made reference to the struggles of the Jewish community.
11. “Their mainstream politics are at [an] all-time low, that’s how we see it … We always hope that next [U.S.] president will be much wiser than previous one, less pyromaniac as I said, less militaristic, adventurous president. That’s what we hope. But we never saw. The difference is very marginal. So we keep hoping, but we don’t bet on that hope.” — President Bashar Assad of Syria, where at least 400,000 people have died in the civil war, on July 13.
12. “His excesses end up giving a retching feeling, even in the US, especially when — as was Donald Trump’s case — he speaks ill of a soldier, of the memory of a soldier….” If Trump wins, “there will be consequences because the American election is a global election … Democracy is also a major issue considering the authoritarian temptation that we see arising.” — French President Francois Hollande,on Aug. 2.
13. “When America retrenches and retreats, it leaves behind a vacuum, and that vacuum is filled by bad guys.” — Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on U.S. President Barack Obama’s reluctance to use military force, in an interview on Aug. 8.
14. “Well, I don’t know what this would. … English is not my mother tongue, I don’t know if I would sound decent. There are so many pussies around the presidential campaign on both sides that I prefer not to comment on this.” — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in an interview posted on Oct. 12.
15. “America has lost now. I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow. And maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.” — Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, on Oct. 20, during a session with business leaders in China. U.S. officials at this point believe he’s more bluster than a real threat to the U.S.-Philippines partnership.
16. “Hysteria has been whipped up in the United States about the influence of Russia over the U.S. presidential election … It’s much simpler to distract people with so-called Russian hackers, spies, and agents of influence. Does anyone really think that Russia could influence the American people’s choice in any way? Is America a banana republic or what? America is a great power. Please correct me if I’m wrong.” — Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Oct. 27, as the audience laughed.
Each year, dozens of Canadian Aboriginal women are murdered or disappear never to be seen again. Some end up in a river that runs through the heart of Winnipeg. One of them was a 15-year-old school girl called Tina Fontaine, whose body was found in August 2014. Read the entire article here.