Introduction and Dedication
Jesuit of Latin America
As in past years, this special issue of envío is a collective product of the Jesuit Center for Research and Social Action in Central America and Panama (CIASCA). It reflects the conclusions of CIASCA's annual seminar dedicated to understanding the key trends in the Central American countries and in the region as a whole.
CIASCA is a group of Central Americans who combine analytical research with social action. Both within CIASCA's own work and in its collaborative efforts in the region, social action has increasingly moved into popular education and popular economic projects, the mother lodes of any popular movement that aims to exercise its own power and express its own culture.
This year, envío's Central America issue has grown out of a broader process than in previous years. Its central theses first emerged during a regional meeting of popular education activists closely linked to new centers for a grassroots alternative. Many of these same activists later participated in CIASCA's regional seminar in January 1991, which allowed these ideas to permeate our own analysis. Our joint conclusions are found in the final section, virtually a manifesto for a popular alternative.
We have also focused more on a regional vision this year than on a country-by-country analysis, not because the differences between countries have diminished, but because the popular movements in each are facing an ever more transnational enemy with a shared regional strategy. The country analyses are thus conceived as "windows" into different aspects of the regional situation, many of which are dealt with in greater depth in separate chapters.
CIASCA dedicates this year's special issue to Jesuit professor Ignacio Martín Baró, SJ, and to anthropologist Myrna Mack for their years of collaboration in our annual seminar. "Nacho" was murdered on November 16, 1989, at the Central American University of San Salvador, together with five other Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter; Myrna was killed on September 11, 1990, in front of the research institute AVANCSO in Guatemala City, where she worked untiringly. Both were targeted for their unbending humanitarian and humanizing convictions. Together with countless people of good will, above all Central America's unjustly impoverished masses, we feel their absence with tremendous pain and loss. But their physical absence has been replaced by an insistent moral presence, one that demands that we continue sowing Central America's fertile soil until we harvest the resurrection of all our peoples' martyrs. Resisting the usual imposition on intellectuals—"publish or perish"—they published for the people and perished for them. If their murderers hoped to rob us of hope, they instead filled us with outrage. Together with the many other research centers rooted in the indomitable hope of the poor, we demand that the development of knowledge about the reality that surrounds us never again carry a death penalty imposed by those who believe that the formula for supreme power lies in ignorance.
From the love of life that led her to give hers, and with the unique smile that always bathed her face with joy, Myrna asked us in the January 1990 CIASCA seminar, "Who will be the one who won't be able to attend this seminar next year because, like Nacho, they will have been murdered?" It was she, and it is she who will make the best critique of this work, from the viewpoint of the poor of the earth, with whom, as Martí said, "we want to cast our lot."