The history of El Salvador has gone through diverse periods that have marked its current economic, political and social state. Before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors to American Land, the territory was inhabited by different Amerindian people that had formed sophisticated social orders; with the conquest, syncretism and submission took a principal role until the then called San Salvador providence gain its independence from the Spanish Empire achieving its state stature in 1859. In 1931 a period known as “Military Dictatorship” commence, military forces control the state until 1979. During the 80´s a civil war erupted leaving a great residue of dead and disappeared.
In 1992 the peace treaty is signed in Chapultepec, Mexico, event that marks the beginning of a new history for the nation.
The current economic and social state makes it difficult for the population to overcome their status. El Salvador is a country located in Central America, also known as the “pulgarcito de América” translated as the “little thumb of America”, the territory extension is of 20,742 Km2 and its population is of over 6 million habitants, it’s a high number of people for such a small country. El Salvador has 14 Departments and 262 municipalities in which you can find Santa Catarina Masahuat.
The municipality of Santa Catarina Masahuat is located within the Department of Sonsonate, on the western area of the country. Currently in this place there is a group of national and international (from the UK) volunteers working in the communities El Escalón and Los Shull.
The municipality of Santa Catarina Masahuat was inhabited since the Pre-Columbian period by groups of Pipiles. During the Colonial period it belonged to the Township of Sonsonate. In 1824 it was considered as part of the Department of Sonsonate, in 1859 the population was of 676 habitants, which would dedicate to the making of “petates” (bedroll made of the fibres of the Palm of petate). The municipality covers an area of de 30,92 Km2 and its Urban Area has an altitude of 720 masl, the word Masahuat is Nahuatl and means “River of abundant deer” or “River of the deer owner”.
The Urban Area of the municipality bases its economic sustainability on agriculture and livestock, the Rural Area dedicates only to agriculture. This municipality has 4 barrios, 6 colonies, 2 settlings and 4 cantons, within those cantons you can find Canton Cuyuapa and this is where the community of El Escalón is located. As mentioned before this is where, we, as young volunteers, are working.
El Escalón is a community that has 90 housings, a population of 95 families and 422 people in total, there are 220 men and 202 women, these numbers include children. There is an ADESCO (Association of Communal Development) a CCPC (Communal Commission for Civil Protection) which is integrated by 12 to 18 people from the community. There is also a School that provides education from preschool to the 6th grade, it currently has 95 students. We are currently working on improving the football field in this school and building a contention wall.
Blog by Roque Santos (Dago), Progressio ICS volunteer and a member of the Community of El Escalón in Santa Catarina Masahuat, Sonsonate, El Salvador. Translated from Spanish by Progressio ICS El Salvador staff.