• 1979

    There is a coup d’état in El Salvador. A military uprising overthrows the former ruler, Carlos Humberto Romero. The country is in a civil war.

    Manuel is 10 years old when he reads in the newspaper that there has been a coup d’état in his country.

  • 1980

    On March 24th, Archbishop Óscar Romero is assassinated while celebrating a mass. He fought in defense of human rights and against military dictatorship.

    Manuel begins to understand that his country is experiencing a conflict.

    On October 10th, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) is founded and supported by rural peasants and urban workers.

    Manuel recalls the revolutionary groups that protest to give a message of equality to society. His cousins join these groups.

    The security forces and armed groups of the state, known as “escuadrones de la muerte” (death squads), attack the unions, peasants and religious leaders.

    Manuel’s mom is a teacher and belongs to a union. She’s targeted by the dictatorship.

    The leaders of the Revolutionary Democratic Front; Juan Chacón, Enrique Álvarez Córdova, Manuel Franco, Humberto Mendoza, Enrique Escobar Barrera and Doroteo Hernández are kidnapped and assassinated during a meeting.

    Manuel remembers how the death squads arrived and kidnapped both teachers and unionists alike.

  • 1981

    On January 10th, the FMLN launches its final offensive, and is confined in the mountainous areas of the country.

    Manuel and his family must move from their town and are displaced to the capital.


  • 1984

    A counter-insurgency strategy called GBI (Low Intensity Warfare) is implemented, sponsored by the U.S. government. The military aid increases.

    Manuel’s house is painted with graffiti that says, “No Yankees.” Manuel and his family cannot support any side.

    We have the first cases of enforced disappearance. It is estimated that between 1980 and 1992, the number of missing persons reaches 10,000.

    Manuel attends a Jesuit school considered leftist. His mother is afraid he’ll disappear.

  • 1986

    On October 10th an earthquake, measuring 5.7 in magnitude on the Richter scale, shook El Salvador, leaving in its wake 200,000 victims, 1,500 deaths and many buildings in ruins.

    Manuel sees the war spread, knowing that his fellow citizens must live through events that are more painful.

  • 1989

    Throughout the year, there are many attacks, protests and murders in San Salvador.

    Manuel studies computer science in the capital. The conflict begins to enter the city of San Salvador.

    On the 11th of November, the FMLN launched the offensive “to the limit”, which consisted of the takeover of popular areas of the most important cities of El Salvador. The hard offensive lasts until the early days of December.

    Manuel leaves the International Exhibition and finds tanks in the streets. He takes refuge at a friend’s house.

    On November 16th at the José Simeón Cañas Central American University, the armed forces kill eight people, two domestic workers and six Jesuits. The murderers altered the crime scene to incriminate the guerrillas.

    After the murders, they apply for the refugee program in Canada. Five days later, on December 21st, they leave El Salvador for Canada.

  • 1992

    On January 16th, the Chapultepec Peace Agreement was signed, where the government of El Salvador and the FMLN put an end to the civil war.

    A few months after his departure from El Salvador, a peace process begins.