IT'S A HARD LIFE
WOMEN IN EL SALVADOR'S
The historic backdrop to Maria Teresa Tula' life story is as volatile and dramatic as the geography that has earned El Salvador its reputation as "The Land of Lakes and Volcanos." In the land where "coffee is king," long-standing wealth and land inequities provided centuries of fodder for the civil war which took more than 80,000 lives between 1979 and 1992. Poverty is a tradition for the majority in El Salvador as are women's struggles to survive and raise families on close to nothing. In this chapter, I will outline El Salvador's economic history beginning with the rise of coffee production and following through to the end of the civil war. Large population shifts in this century from the countryside to the city, the emergence of the informal economic sector, large-scale internal migration, ever-increasing economic stratification, and the civil war's devastating effect on production, health, and family life provide some of the context for understanding women's organized struggles and María Teresa Tula's personal experiences.