El Salvador, 1975

Salvadoran Kent State

On July 20, students from the San Salvador National University stage a protest march against the army’s invasion of a branch campus. In Latin America the neutrality and safety of a university is nearly sacred. The student marchers go up 25th Street heading for the highway bridge just south of the U.S. Embassy. As they enter the bridge, soldiers take up offensive positions on the other side, blocking their advance. Not wanting to risk a confrontation, they turn around, only to see more soldiers blocking their exit. The soldiers open fire on the unarmed students. Some jump off the bridge, others lie flat. In a few moments, the army kills twenty students.

Robert Armstrong and Janet Shenk, El Salvador: The Face of Revolution, 73-74


San Salvador, 1975: Remembering

El Salvadoran military

Blood can be washed from a bridge. Washing away the memory of those students proves impossible.

As word spreads of the massacre, hundreds converge on the cathedral in the capitol. Gathering both spontaneously and as the fruit of years of organizing, the diverse groups proclaim that unity is our strength. They shout El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido! (The people united will never be defeated!) Today they take a new name that reflects their unity. They call themselves the People’s Revolutionary Bloc (BPR) which becomes known as El Bloque. Composed of a variety of popular organizations, they offer the people an alternative to corrupt political parties. Emphasizing democracy, equality, and civil disobedience, they fight for higher wages, land for the landless, electricity for poor neighborhoods. They hate the oligarchy and the army. They simply pledge to end their rule.

Robert Armstrong and Janet Shenk, El Salvador: The Face of Revolution, 28-30