Matanza: The 1932 "Slaughter" That Traumatized a Nation, Shaping US-Salvadoran Policy to This Day

Matanza: The 1932 "Slaughter" That Traumatized a Nation, Shaping US-Salvadoran Policy to This Day

Matanza: The 1932 "Slaughter" That Traumatized a Nation, Shaping US-Salvadoran Policy to This Day

Matanza: The 1932 "Slaughter" That Traumatized a Nation, Shaping US-Salvadoran Policy to This Day

Excerpt

It has now been twenty years since the publication of Matanza. It has been in print almost continuously since that time and was published in Spanish by EDUCA, Costa Rica. From this it might be gathered that the book struck a responsive chord, but this is probably not due to the book itself so much as to the dramatic events which unfolded over the last two decades in El Salvador. In this brief space I should like first to say a few words about the book, and then something on the subsequent events of Salvadorean history.

It is the nightmare of every historical writer that some sharp scholar will find fatal flaws in his work that will prove that he was either a fraud or a fool, but Matanza appears to have largely stood the test of time. Indeed, it is disconcerting, especially as you grow older, to be frequently told that your first book was your best. However Professor Kenneth J. Grieb did point out in his review in The Americas that I had overlooked certain State Department files that proved that Jefferson Caffery was actually trying to remove Martínez from power (p.62). I suppose I was fooled by the opposite impression he gave the Salvadoreans, as well as by having overlooked certain files.

I have also been called to task for calling it a "communist revolt" in the title. This matter was brought up at a symposium on the book at Universidad Centroamericana in San Salvador some years ago and more recently at a New York University conference. I believe that I did emphasize the Indian element in the uprising and the peasants' general discontent, but there is no denying that the revolt was led by men such as Agustín Farabundo Martí who were indeed communists, and while the revolt came prematurely, they were planning an uprising. Therefore, there are three elements to the revolt, indigenous resentment of the ladinos, more generalized peasant resistance to oppression, and communist leadership.

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