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Broadcasting the Civil War in El Salvador

A Memoir of Guerrilla Radio

By Carlos Henriquez Consalvi ("Santiago")

Publication Year: 2010

During the 1980s war in El Salvador, Radio Venceremos was the main news outlet for the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), the guerrilla organization that challenged the government. The broadcast provided a vital link between combatants in the mountains and the outside world, as well as an alternative to mainstream media reporting. In this first-person account, “Santiago,” the legend behind Radio Venceremos, tells the story of the early years of that conflict, a rebellion of poor peasants against the Salvadoran government and its benefactor, the United States. Originally published as La Terquedad del Izote, this memoir also addresses the broader story of a nationwide rebellion and its international context, particularly the intensifying Cold War and heavy U.S. involvement in it under President Reagan. By the war’s end in 1992, more than 75,000 were dead and 350,000 wounded—in a country the size of Massachusetts. Although outnumbered and outfinanced, the rebels fought the Salvadoran Army to a draw and brought enough bargaining power to the negotiating table to achieve some of their key objectives, including democratic reforms and an overhaul of the security forces. Broadcasting the Civil War in El Salvador is a riveting account from the rebels’ point of view that lends immediacy to the Salvadoran conflict. It should appeal to all who are interested in historic memory and human rights, U.S. policy toward Central America, and the role the media can play in wartime.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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Map 1

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pp. xviii


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pp. ix-xi

Map 2

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pp. xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

List of Acronyms

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pp. xv-xvi

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Introduction [contains image plates]

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pp. xvii-xlvi

What follows is the story of a rebellion by poor peasants against the government of El Salvador and its benefactor, the United States. The peasant rebels were outgunned, outmanned, and outfinanced, and they ultimately failed to achieve their goal of overthrowing the Salvadoran state. But, remarkably, they fought the Salvadoran Army to a draw over eleven years of war (1981–1992), and they had enough bargaining...

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pp. 2-15

I get up without making a sound; you’re still half-asleep and naked. The hint of a smile graces your lips as if you were dreaming about the child that I dreamed would one day run around here, playing among the mango trees and mayflowers. There’s barely an hour left before I leave, and in all things—the typewriter, the small pre-Columbian statuary, the crickets, the smell of nature—there is an air of parting...

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pp. 18-88

Atilio and the staff of the northeastern front are huddled around a map of San Francisco Gotera. Quincho, Memo, Carmelo, Licho, Galia, and Melo are all there. Jonás is the only one who’s missing, and he’s on his way. They’re planning exactly what needs to happen in Morazán as part of the general offensive. We continue the broadcasting tests. After calibrating the Valiant Viking we get the recorder up and running....

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pp. 90-120

After an exhaustive investigation of each affected town, the Radio produces a list of victims. The international community is reticent to believe our reports on the magnitude of the genocide. Some attribute it to propaganda aimed at deterring the North American Congress from approving...

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pp. 122-167

The FMLN commences its Revolutionary Heroes of January campaign, seizing control of Tejutla in Chalatenango and capturing sixty-two rifles and fifty-two soldiers during the battle. Contradictions and disputes break out within the government’s armed forces when plans to quickly defeat the FMLN fail once and for all. Lieutenant Colonel...

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pp. 170-216

Domingo Monterrosa is commissioned as the commanding officer of the entire eastern zone. Still hung over from last night’s festivities, the colonel stands on the banks of the Lempa, contemplating the ruined bridge that lies before him, one of a number of military objectives...

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Epilogue, 1992

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pp. 217-222

The last seven years of the eleven-year struggle are missing from this account. Others will be responsible for gathering and recording the memories of the events that took place in Chalatenango, Guazapa, San Vicente, Usulut

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Epilogue, 2003

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pp. 223-224

It’s been eleven years since the war ended. The country has undergone changes for the better. Peace has been established. Exclusion from the political process has come to an end, and progress has been made in the democratization of El Salvador. The guerrilla front, now a legitimate political party, has won in the major cities...

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Epilogue 2009

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pp. 225-226

Seventeen years have passed since the end of the war. During those years I have participated in the creation of a new utopia: the Museum of Word and Image, the genesis of which can be found in a desire to help the people of El Salvador give lasting form to their memories and recognition to their cultural identity...


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pp. 227-229

E-ISBN-13: 9780292793071
E-ISBN-10: 0292793073
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292722859
Print-ISBN-10: 0292722850

Page Count: 293
Illustrations: 34 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2010