Latino History of Rhode Island

A collection of the voices of Rhode Island's Latino pioneers

Salvadoran Immigration: El Pulgarcito de Centroamérica

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Over 75,000 civilians died at the hands of government forces during the civil war in El Salvador (1980-1992). These 12 years of violence were punctuated by three well-known atrocities: the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero that sparked the conflict, the rape and murder of four American churchwomen that caused international outrage, and the 1989 Jesuits Massacre that finally compelled the international community to intervene.
The 2010 Census population reports show that there are over 1.7 million Salvadorans currently living in the United States. This represents one-fifth of the total Salvadoran population, and the third largest group of Latinos in the United States. The bloody Civil War of 1980 sparked a Salvadoran diaspora, primarily in Los Angeles, D.C, and Houston. The war emerged as a popular insurrection by revolutionary forces that composed the political party of the FMLN who fought against the condemnation of human rights and for those who were systematically killed against a repressive government. Victims included students, priests, women, and children due to the military aid to the Salvadoran government led by U.S. intervention.

The early arrivals were known as the runners who came during the first half of the war, some even before the war started. These political refugees were typically professionals or part of the middle/lower-middle class. Many of them came from the capital city, whereas the more recent arrivals came from the countryside. The newer generation was considered to be in a limbo legal situation because many did not think they should invest their time, effort, or money, because they were not sure if they were going to stay here, and if they were going to, how safe they would be. For these early immigrants, life in the United States was a question of stability. But many ended up staying in the States, building their communities here along the way.

Throughout the decades Salvadorans have diffused all across the United States. They are in fact among the top five largest Latino populations.
Pupuserias can be found in almost every state. The smallest Latin American country is not small in numbers or voice. Salvadoran-Americans are rising to positions of leadership in their communities and making their neighborhoods change for the better.
Salvadorians in Rhode Island … coming soon
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