From 1980 to 1992, El Salvador suffered a violent civil war, in which about 75,000 people were killed. The conflict had its roots in the inequality between a tiny elite who dominated the country and owned large tracts of coffee plantations and the majority of the rural population who struggled to grow the food they needed.
The Church worked to support the peasant farmers who worked on the large estates, living in appalling conditions, and as they started to claim their basic rights, they were violently repressed by the army.
Archbishop Oscar Romero spoke out tirelessly against the poverty, injustice and military repression, until he was murdered in 1980 by a military assassin.
Although El Salvador is a more democratic country today, there remain serious challenges of inequality and extreme levels of violence, along with the ongoing threat of earthquakes and hurricanes.
CAFOD in El Salvador
CAFOD has been working in El Salvador since 1974. Our work and that of our partners in El Salvador is inspired by Archbishop Oscar Romero and his pursuit of a more just, peaceful and equitable society.
Today, we focus on four key areas:
- Agriculture – helping farmers to improve their crops, care for the environment, cut costs, and learn from each other
- Reducing the risk of disasters – identifying areas at risk, helping communities to develop evacuation drills, planting crops to stop soil erosion
- Health – local health care provision and public health campaigning, counseling for people with HIV, and raising awareness about HIV and gender based violence
- Creating peace – helping to heal the scars of civil war and build a more just society through legal aid, advocacy and human rights education, as well as creating a safer environment for human rights defenders
Find out more about our Connect2 El Salvador scheme