Hear My Testimony: Maraia Teresa Tula, Human Rights Activist of El Salvador

By María Teresa Tula; Lynn Stephen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

There are thousands of women in El Salvador with little formal education, no political experience, and extraordinarily difficult lives, who have participated in a wide range of struggles. This book documents the life of one such woman, 40-year-old María Teresa Tula, a working-class housewife who became an internationally known human rights organizer. María's story is both ordinary and truly exceptional. On the one hand, the trajectory of her life reflects that of many Salvadoran women who entered political life in an effort to move their country toward peace, equality, and democracy. On the other hand, Maria is a truly exceptional person who was transformed through her political struggles. Her work with CO‐ MADRES (The Mothers and Relatives of Political Prisoners, Disappeared, and Assassinated of El Salvador "Monseñor Romero") shaped her into a remarkable surveyor of political and economic events and a thoughtful feminist theorist. In María's story, we see the painful reality of life in El Salvador, beginning in the 1950s until the mid-1980s, when she left to reside in the United States. Through her eyes we experience the alienation and difficulties thousands of Salvadorans have as they struggle to "make it" in the promised land of the United States. We also see the transformative potential of political activism as María, who first acts as a responsible wife trying to protect her detained husband, becomes increasingly motivated by her own sense of justice to confront the military, government officials, and her own torturers in the battle for human rights. In the process, she also is awakened to her own oppression as a poor, Salvadoran woman and begins to see the world through gendered eyes.

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