Abriendo Brecha: Cover of the 39th edition of Santa Marta's youth made magazine called Abriendo Brecha or Opening the Gap.
In the Northern most region of El Salvador in the Department of Cabañas, there is a remarkable community nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain Range. Santa Marta is a community of survivors, targeted by the death squads during the countries bloody civil war, most residents escaped across the River Lempa to become refugees in Honduras. Yet many returned to their land while the conflict still raged, founding the community in 1987, five years before the peace accords were signed. From its humble beginnings Santa Marta has grown through the organization and dedication of its residents, who founded among other things a community radio station, a AIDS and Sex Education group and a social and economic development NGO, which has managed to receive international funding for the development of the community.
Perhaps the most impressive element of the community is the youth. Many of the young people in Santa Marta were born in refugee camps in Honduras. They suffered losses at a very young age and when their parents brought them back to their home country, in the midst of a raging war, there were not many resources available to them. The first returnees found themselves repopulating a town destroyed by war, one that they must build from the ground up. There were no buildings, certainly no schools. Not to mention, the adults themselves lacked any sort of formal education. Yet, even in the refugee camps, those who knew how to read and write began teaching those younger than themselves. Upon returning to El Salvador, some were able to go to the capital for a year and study. They would complete a year of schooling then return to teach the others what they had learned before leaving again for their next year of study. So it went, and little by little an elementary school was built, a pre-school and even a high school. Today, the first graduates of Santa Marta's high school are living in a shared house in San Salvador, about to graduate from the National University.
These youth are dedicated to remembering where they come from and how they arrived where they are today. The young people of Santa Marta have banded together forming study groups, participating actively in the radio station, and other community groups, such as a Historical Society. They have even started their own youth association Rebelión or rebellion, and as part of this association, their own magazine, Abriendo Brecha or Opening the Gap.
The students and members of Rebelión are indeed attempting to open the economic and social gap that separates their rural society from that of the Salvadoran elite. They put the magazine together with articles they write themselves, photos they take and their own drawings and artwork. It is a tribute to their past as well as a look to their future. In it they remind their community of its history, the struggles that they and their parents have faced. Yet they also, propose ways of moving forward, analyzing with incredible insight the current political climate in the country and the issues effecting their community, such as metal mining and political violence. They criticize and critique and present their own alternatives, reminding their community and themselves that they are the future.
To view the latest issues of Abriendo Brecha click here.