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The Struggle for Justice in El Salvador and the 35th Anniversary in Guarjila

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Dearest Friends,

This morning I woke up thinking about St. Ignatius and his teaching on consolation and desolation. How easy it can be for us to be stuck sometimes in desolation, allowing despair to completely block our ability to feel love and to see 'the beyond' to a new and better world.

Desolation itself often takes us away from the love of God, neighbor and self. The danger is to believe that the struggle is so great there isn't any reason to continue.

How easy it would be for us to remain in desolation in El Salvador. You have read our reports; a president who disregards the rule of law, has little interest in defending the country's constitution, where the means always justifies the end. We continue to live under a 'state of exception,' now in its sixth month, limiting the civil rights of all Salvadorans. Roughly 60,000 have been imprisoned and arrests still continue (last week there was another raid here in Guarjila). Those taken away are barely surviving with little hope of due process or justice.

As I write this morning, the gray that has gripped the mountains for days is now letting go as tropical storm Julia subsides. Today the country mourns the loss of life, and assess the physical damage of communities. With shovel in hand, El Salvador will clean, rebuild, and live again. After almost 40 years El Salvador has taught me that despite senseless warfare, loss of innocent life, natural disasters, corrupt governments, crime, violence, corruption, empty promises, dictators and even bitcoin, life continues here (sometimes even with cafecito and tamales).

Ignatius also writes how consolation blesses us with moments to sustain us through the darkness. As we give thanks for surviving another storm, we also celebrate the freedom of five young men who unjustly spent months in Salvadoran prisons for the crime of being a kid.

Today those young men are reunited with their families. We give thanks to God, Bishop Oswaldo of Chaletanango, the UCA (the Jesuit University's human rights office), and our legal team, which includes Alex Munoz, a young lawyer who earned his law degree through a Tamarindo scholarship. We also thank you for all your support. We still have so much to do, but today, consolation.

This week we will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the community of Guarjila, an incredible journey of faith and survival.

We remember all who sacrificed their lives to make possible the community where we live and work. Imagine our journey from our first schools under mango trees to this year where we will have six new college graduates.

These new Tamarindo graduates will be earning degrees in law, healthcare, and education. Without the sacrifice of the founding mothers and fathers of Guarjila, this would not have been possible. We will forever honor their memory. Consolation.

As difficult as our current situation may seem to be, the most radical thing we can do is continue our work. Let our work be our message to the world. So please help us through your generosity to continue to teach, coach, guide, invest, inspire, care, build and most of all love. Let us continue together to work for justice.

In Thanks, Love and Faith,

John and The Tamarindo Family

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