CIUDAD ROMERO, El Salvador – Women are playing a leading role in a powerful social movement addressing natural resource protection, adaptation to climate change, and corporate accountability in this coastal village in El Salvador.
Cristina Reyes is currently in her second term as president of the local community council in Ciudad Romero, located in the department (province) of Usulután, on the Pacific Ocean.
Her work bringing electricity, potable water, roads and services for women to her area helped get her elected as head of the community council.
Her life before this — and the lives of many others living in this area — reads more like an epic story of adventure, survival, and resistance.
Reyes and her family had to flee their home village during the political violence that preceded the 1980-1992 civil war that claimed some 75,000 lives.
After living in the jungle and caves with her sister while fleeing the U.S.-backed counterinsurgency forces, Reyes finally sought refuge in neighbouring Honduras.
“But in 1980 we had to return to El Salvador because the Honduran military were conducting a campaign of repression against civil society that was just like what the military in El Salvador were doing,” Reyes told IPS at her home in Ciudad Romero. “Back in El Salvador, however, the military here was still doing the same thing.”
Reyes described a brutal campaign that included the burning down of homes, arrests, and repression of Catholic priests who were defending human rights.