Monday, November 19, 2007

Rufina Amaya, Presente!


Although we had been gathered under the banner for Rufina Amaya all weekend, I did not know her story until Adriana Portillo Bartow told it on Sunday.

She is the only survivor of the El Mozote, El Salvador massacre of more than 900 (according to the SOAW, but according to this story, she was the only one that spoke out about her memories of the massacre). She escape and hid, witnessing the deaths of her family and friends, including four children, but Bartow said that she knew she had to escape so that she could tell the story.

She died earlier this year, but Bartow told how Amaya came to the SOA vigil some years ago and had been marching by Bartow. When the singers started singing the names of the dead from El Mozote, Bartow says, Amaya started saying, "That was my daughter, that was my neighbor, that was my aunt."

As I sang "presente" this year, I really listened to the names and imagine the real individuals. Last year I was too busy taking pictures during the vigil, but imagining them as a mother, brother, child, or friend this year made the procession even more powerful.

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