El Salvador is a small country the size of Massachusetts with a population of about 6 million. This small land mass is mountainous in the north and sandy along the pacific coast. Land that is good for farming and livestock is high in demand and low in supply. The Salvadoran capital sits along the infamous Pan-American highway. This road stretches from Alaska to Argentina, enabling shipping companies to distribute goods to and from Latin America. Latin America’s land and people have been a major source of resources for North American consumers, especially concerning basic goods such as fruits, vegetables, sugar, cotton, and coffee. El Salvador is one such region that boasts fertile land, large textile factories, and flagship distribution centers for corporations like Haynes, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi.
For the Salvadoran farmer, land is a priceless commodity. Having the opportunity to farm a fertile piece of land in order to sustain both individual families and entire communities is the responsibility of rural Salvadoran farmers. Many farmers have resorted to farming on hillsides because the flat land is being filled with factories, mills, and refineries. Yet those who are willing to farm the mountain side are also in danger of losing their land. Mining companies from the North are currently in bidding battles with the Salvadoran government in an effort to mine the mineral rich land on the north side of the country.
Mining is not a new business in Latin America. The Spanish conquest was rooted in the hope of finding gold and silver. So much so that the Potosi Silver Mine in Bolivia is still known for being the site of over 8 million mining related deaths as people were forced to dig silver from the ground in order to be shipped back to Europe. Today mining is still dangerous for the workers, the fertility of the land, and the purity of the water tables.
With all these entities stacked against the rural Salvadoran farmer, we as a movement desire to work alongside these farmers in rural communities in order to ensure that their land produces properly so that they can be fathers and mothers who do not fear a day when they no longer have fertile land to farm. We are studying ways that people can build houses out of cheaper materials with the best use of space so the rest of their land can be utilized properly for farming and living. We are also learning how to dig wells that are safe and produce necessary amounts of pure drinking water for the communities we serve with. The people of El Salvador are good soil and ready for the seeds of education and land development to be planted in their hearts. They do not need to overthrow the large corporations, rather they can learn to better utilize and diversify their own small plots so that as communities they can provide what they need and not be afraid of the giants in the land.
Written by Matthew Parker