The battle for the third root in El Salvador

The Afro-descendant community in El Salvador continues with the fight for the recognition and inclusion of its roots within the Constitution of the Republic.

Yohalmo Cabrera, founder of Afrodescendientes Organizados Salvadoreños (AFROOS), assured that they have repeatedly delivered pieces of correspondence to the Legislative Assembly seeking recognition of black roots in the country, but that to date, these petitions have not echoed within the congress.

“Exactly what we are requesting is that article 63 of the Constitution of the Republic that talks about indigenous peoples and cultural heritage be reformed,” he said.

Since 2018, AFROOS El Salvador presented a proposal for Constitutional reform, in which they requested the reform of article 63, which dictates that “El Salvador recognizes indigenous peoples and will adopt policies in order to maintain and develop their ethnic and cultural identity, worldview, values ​​and spirituality”, and seek to change it to include the Afro-descendant population within it.

Migration. Despite the belief, Hernández Martínez did not expel the blacks.

Roberto Ramírez, member of AFROOS also affirmed that “we regret that the last Legislative Assembly did not really do much. The then deputy Cristina Cornejo was one of those who supported us and there was also deputy Nidia Díaz, but despite her support, not even they knew what he was referring to when we talked about Afro-descendant peoples. When we arrived, we explained to them and the next time they received us and said: ‘ah, yes, you were the original peoples’, without knowing the difference between original peoples and the arrival of new peoples to the continent. In the end they only told us that they were going to help us to get the piece to go to the plenary session, but that never happened”.

Likewise, Cabrera affirmed that with the last Legislative Assembly they could not reach any agreement after the dialogues, and, when the current deputy Suecy Callejas was in the campaign, he had approaches with the organization, promising to support the constitutional reform proposal, but a A year later, the deputy voted to archive said proposal. THE GRAPHIC PRESS sought, through the communications office of the Assembly, to speak with the deputy, but there was no response.

For her part, deputy Dina Argueta, for the FMLN, affirmed that, despite the fact that her party tried to promote the constitutional reform proposal, they have never had a necessary majority within the Assembly, and they have always needed the participation of more parties. politicians for the approval of different laws.

LA PRENSA GRÁFICA sought, through different means, to speak with deputy René Portillo Cuadra, from ARENA, so that he could provide information on what happened within the Legislation and Constitutional Points commission of which he was a member in the previous legislative period, but did not an answer was received.

Ana Yency Lemus, founder and director of AFROOS commented that on the part of the Executive there has been an attempt at dialogue and promises to address the issue and likewise recognize Afro-descendant peoples in article 63 of the Constitution of the Republic; but to date there has been no initiative on their part and the legislators have not decided to take up the issue again in the Legislation and Constitutional Points commission.

Constitution. The reform of article 63 is the fight of the Afro community.

Third root in the country

Scholars argue that one of the reasons why Afro-descendants are practically unknown in the country is because Maximiliano Hernández Martínez promulgated a “law of expulsion” for Afro-descendants during his tenure, which resulted in a process of “miscegenation” that caused a invisibility of that population.

Alfredo Ramírez, a historian specializing in Salvadoran Afro-descendants, explains that the Migration Law promulgated by the Government of General Martínez in 1933 did not expel anyone at that time. He adds that what was mentioned in the Official Gazette of that date is that the circulation and permanence of the population of Chinese, Turks, Gypsies and Afro-descendants in the country is ordered to be regulated.

Despite the actions of the past that sought the documentary elimination of Afro-descendants, in 2007, during the last population census, it was attached at the request of the UN, after a letter that the Salvadoran State sent in 2005 and assured that “there was no racism here because there were no blacks here”, a report on the ethnic affiliation of Salvadorans.

The survey asked if the census recipient was white, mestizo, indigenous, black (of race) or another, resulting in 7,441 people representing 0.13% of all Salvadorans who were assumed to be “black of race.”


The battle for the third root in El Salvador