This Day in History

June 24, 1980: General Strike in El Salvador Against Death Squads

Time Periods: 1975
Themes: Immigration, Imperialism, Latinx, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements

Close-up of a mural painted in rural Arcatao, Chalatenango depicting the 1980 massacre at the Sumpul River that left 300 civilians dead. The mural is painted in Fernando Llort’s signature geometric and colorful style. Courtesy of Rachel Heidenry.

To understand why families from Central America are leaving their homeland to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, we need to look to the history and current U.S. foreign policy in the region.

On June 24, 1980 a general strike was held in El Salvador against the death squads. The U.S. government helped fund Salvadoran police forces.

Questioned about the nature of the aid in a Senate hearing, Under Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs Elliott Abrams said,

I think that government has earned enough trust, as I think we have earned enough trust, not to be questioned, frankly, about exporting torture equipment. But I would certainly be in favor of giving it to them if they want it.

Find resources for teaching about Central America from Teaching for Change.