Posted by: koolwine | July 24, 2010

El Salvador: Bitter Grounds

Country: El Salvador

Local Name: El Salvador
In the 16th century, when Spanish explorers first arrived, they christened the area Provincia De Nuestro Señor Jesus Cristo, El Salvador Del Mundo (translation: Province of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World).  The name has since been abbreviated to El Salvador, or “The Savior.”

El Salvador is also known as the “Tom Thumb of the Americas” for being the smallest country located in the continental Americas.

Title: Bitter Grounds

Author: Sandra Benítez (Salvadoran-American)

Published: 1997   Pages: 464

Acclaim: Winner of the American Book Award

Time Period: 1932 – 1977

Summary: Traces three generations of two Salvadoran families: the upper class Contreras and their native servants, the Prietos.  Romance, tragedy and Salvadoran history leapfrog each other for attention.

My opinion: I chose this book because the title and the description on the back cover led me to believe it was going describe life on a Salvadoran coffee plantation.  Instead, Benitez’s book is nothing more than an overly long Salvadoran soap opera.

In my book, or how El Salvador has affected me and maybe you, too

A Hokie escape from civil war
One of the very first people I met at my Virginia Tech orientation was from El Salvador.  His name was Manuel.  I had been watching enough evening news to know that El Salvador was embroiled in a civil war, and asked Manuel about it.  He said that the situation was terrible and that he was thankful to be able to study in the U.S. for the next four years.

The Salvadoran Civil War was fought from 1980–1992 between the military-led government and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), an alliance of five left-wing militias.  Approximately 75,000 Salvadorans were killed during the conflict.

Under the 1992 Chapultepec Peace Accords, a cease-fire resolution was agreed upon and remains unbroken.  I lost touch with Manuel, but his country’s war would have ended two years before he was set to graduate.  I ‘m glad that he would have returned to a peaceful country.

Keep Reading!



  1. Maybe you should read a second book about this country – there’s got to be more to it than a horrible civil war and a soap opera.


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