For those who like to walk, this natural site is also a very good option. There are three trails that can be taken, accompanied by a guide: one that leads to the Santa Ana volcano, another to the Izalco volcano, and one that runs through the park.
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The flora of this area identifies the plant formation as nebulous forests, or cold zone vegetation. The flora is exuberant, always green due to the high humidity of the soil and the air, resulting from the constant mist and the frequent rains. Many animals find refuge in this reserve, registering about species of birds.
One of them, the Guardabarranco, is considered one of the five best songbirds in the world. Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna Area. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. Enjoy Honduras and Guatemala learning about their culture, their people, their natural resources, their colonial cities and their Mayan archeology. Natural volcanoes, National Parks, immense beaches, thermal waters Like most civil wars in this part of the world, it was sparked off by a massive inequality between the minority rich, who owned most of the land and took all the profits, and the majority poor, who worked the land and lived in terrible poverty; this is a common setup in ex-colonies, and Central America is no exception.
A peasant uprising in was brutally crushed by the military dictatorship of the time, and from that point on a series of military coups ensured that the army controlled the country with an iron fist, keeping the rich elite in power while crushing any resistance from the people.
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In March , Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was an outspoken critic of the government, was gunned down while saying mass, and this escalated the existing struggle between the FMLN and the right-wing government into full-blown civil war. The government's approach was to attack its own people, as it believed that the enemy were guerrillas who were hiding out among the general population; as a result they started systematically massacring their own citizens, most notably in El Mozote in , where government troops killed more than men, women and children.
All this activity didn't go unnoticed by the US government, who had watched with mounting concern as the corrupt right-wing government of neighbouring Nicaragua fell to the socialist Sandinista revolution of Worried that communism was spreading through the region, the Reagan administration pumped millions of dollars into the El Salvador military, training them up in counter-insurgency and arming them to the teeth.
When the Salvadoran government took that training and started slaughtering their own civilians, the Americans initially denied that these massacres were happening, and then started urging the Salvadoran government to rein things back. In response, the government created death squads who would roam the country and murder suspected leftists, but as they did all this in civilian clothes, the government simply denied that they were behind it.
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The death squads would even warn their potential victims, by sending them invitations to their own funerals or overtly threatening them, and eventually yet another victim would simply disappear, sometimes turning up mutilated on the street corner, but often never to be seen again. In the first five years of the war alone, 40, civilians were killed by the government; by the end of the war, casualties were estimated at 75,, with some one million of the five million population being driven from their homes by the violence, and by the government's scorched-earth policy of destroying entire communities with fire.
In the violence escalated to the capital, San Salvador, and things kept getting worse until the UN finally managed to broker a peace deal in January , which has held firm ever since. The FMLN is now a mainstream political party, it won the last election in , and it's currently campaigning to win the election that is slated for February ; the right-wing government, for their part, has apologised for its abuse of power during the civil war, and the Salvadoran economy is now one of the strongest in Central America, with the highest minimum wage in the region.
It seems that after such a brutal and harrowing civil war, nobody wants to go back to the old days, even if the country is politically still split between right and left. These days the fight is a purely political one, and the war is becoming an ever more distant memory. Back in Suchitoto, the man from the cooperative turned up at the main plaza the following morning and introduced himself as Nelson, and we were soon bouncing along in the back of his rusty, bald-tyred car, heading out of town towards the dry hills to the west. We pulled into a dirt track and walked past fields to an abandoned building in the middle of millet and maize fields, and that's when the tour really started, because on closer inspection it turned out that the building's roof was missing and there were bullet holes sprayed liberally over the outside plasterwork.
It turned out that this house had once belonged to the President of El Salvador, and was a popular summer retreat because of its sweeping views over the surrounding terrain.
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Because of these views it was occupied by the FMLN during the war, but government troops stationed on the nearby hills would keep an eye out for smoke or signs of activity, and would radio in their positions so the fighter planes could swoop in and drop their bombs and incendiary devices. Eventually the government took out the building, and its remains still stand today, mouldering in the sun. From there we hopped back in the car and drove to Nelson's house, where his eight-year-old son, also called Nelson but known to everyone as Nelsito, joined us.
A budding guide in his own right, Nelsito was full of smiles and eight-year-old innocence, and his presence would make our walk up the hill even more poignant, though we didn't realise it yet.
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From Nelson's place we drove to the base of Cerro de Guazapa, the extinct and wooded volcano that we would be exploring for the rest of the day. It started out with a gentle climb through fields of sugar cane, which Nelson cut for us to taste, before we ducked into the forested slopes and passed a bomb crater and the ruins of houses, almost entirely reclaimed by the forest. We stopped for a rest by the shattered remains of a church that the government had bombed in the war, and where four women and two children had been killed; two small wooden crosses stood nearby in remembrance.
Just up the hill, Nelson showed us what looked like three rabbit holes, one after the other in the side of the road. In fact, these tiny hollowed-out holes in the earth were bomb shelters, and when the planes started to come in, the people would hide underground, five people crammed into each small, coffin-shaped cave. If the bombs hit, it wouldn't save you, but it might help if the target was some way off. This was getting interesting, but it was when we reached the ruins of a school that things took an unexpected turn.
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Just downhill from the foundations of the school buildings, Nelson pointed to the remains of a trench, and explained that this trench went round the top of the whole hill, and that this was the front line against the government troops; the men patrolled the line, he said, and behind the line were all the women and children. My Bibliography Add to Bibliography. Generate a file for use with external citation management software.
El Salvador: Cerro de Guazapa