Stories of Guazapa
Northeast of San Salvador lies the ancient Guazapa volcano. Over the past 10 years, many of my visits have involved spending time in communities around the volcano. During El Salvador's civil war, this was a battle zone.
Three documentaries pull together a view of Guazapa then and now. Dr. Charles Clements had been a US Air Force pilot in Vietnam before he left the military, and became a Quaker and a doctor. Clements then spent a year behind FMLN lines in Guazapa treating civilians needing medical care in the war zone. The Academy Award winning short documentary, Witness to War, is based on his memoir of the same name.
While Clements was working behind the lines in the Guazapa region, he was visited by American journalist Don North. North also spent time behind the FMLN lines, interviewing the guerillas, seeing how people lived, and documenting the impact of attacks by the US-supplied armed forces. North then produced the documentary Guazapa: The Face of War in El Salvador.
Twenty-six years later, North and Clements returned to the area around Guazapa to see for themselves the changes in El Salvador since the signing of the peace accords in 1992. Those changes culminated in the election of the country's first FMLN president, Mauricio Funes in 2009. The documentary North produced is titled Guazapa: Yesterday's Enemies.
The trailer for Yesterday's Enemies:
I recommend Yesterday's Enemies to anyone planning a visit to El Salvador as part of a delegation or who wants insights into how the country continues to emerge from the madness of its civil war. There is information on how to order Yesterday's Enemies, as well as The Face of War at the website of North Star Productions.
For those of you in the southeast Wisconsin area, there will be a screening of Yesterday's Enemies and The Face of War on Monday, February 22, as part of the El Salvador Movie Night series at St. John's Lutheran Church, 20275 Davidson Road, Brookfield, Wisconsin 53045.