El Salvador: Guadalupe Mejía Delgado

Hope also feeds us. Not the hope of the foolish, but the other one.

— Guadalupe Mejía Delgado

She is a woman of the countryside, affable and sensible. Who could guess that behind her serene appearance there is a personal history of pain and loss? Defender of human rights for 22 years, her courage and determination have allowed her to open the doors of prisons and military barracks, achieving freedom for people who were opposed to the regime, during the Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992). 13 years after the signing of the peace agreement, she still works for justice and truth, asking, “Where are the missing people?” She is Guadalupe Mejía, an untiring seeker of peace.

Guadalupe Mejía is a rural woman, born and raised in the canton of La Ceiba, in the municipality of Las Vueltas, in the administrative district of Chalatenango, in the North of El Salvador. She married, when she was barely 17 years old. With her husband, she found love, and their nine sons and daughters were born as a product of that love. Her husband was a farmer, politically and socially aware, who taught her a way of life that she would never abandon: to defend life in the midst of a poor and repressed society. When he was murdered in 1977, Guadalupe continued the fight that he had begun. Frail and unsophisticated as she was, from that moment on, life was uncertain for herself and her children. In 1980, the civil war began and the repression grew more intense each day. In 1983, she moved to the city of San Salvador to direct the Marianella Garcia Villas Committee of Relatives of Victims of Human Rights Violations in El Salvador (Codefam), which was born two years before that. She went to prisons and military barracks with only a basic knowledge of the penal code. Nevertheless, she managed to rescue nearly 1500 people from the claws of the security forces who had always been skillful in making the people opposed to the regime disappear. The war ended in 1992. Nowadays, she still works for the Marianella Garcia Villas Committee of Relatives of Victims of Human Rights Violations in El Salvador. Now, as she did 22 years ago, she denounces the State and accuses it of hiding behind the veil of an amnesty law to evade answering the question that the families of the missing ones always ask: “Where are they?” At age 60, she continues her work with a smile. “Peace will only be a reality on the day the truth is known, when violence has ended, and there is bread for everyone.”

Comité de Familiares de Víctimas de las Violaciones de Derechos Humanos de El Salvador Marianella Garcia Villas (Codefam)