On July 30, 1975, high school and university students gathered at the University of El Salvador in a peaceful protest of the proposed closing of their university, and of widespread government military action against dissenters.
Marching toward downtown San Salvador, the student protesters were met by police and the National Guard, who opened fire with machine guns and threw tear gas bombs into the protesting crowd. Dozens of students were killed and injured.
This 1975 demonstration was a turning point in El Salvador’s history — leading students to question whether peaceful demands and the democratic process were possible.
Given the long and major role of the U.S. in El Salvador’s history, this is therefore also an important turning point in U.S. history. The U.S. had provided training for Salvadoran military leaders at the School of the Americas starting in the 1960s and became heavily involved in funding the military in the 1980s.
Read “Ghosts of El Salvador,” a description of a 1974 massacre in El Salvador.
Also read “40 Years Later, Survivor In Toronto Has His Painful Experience During Massacre In El Salvador,” a testimony from a student about the July 30, 1975 massacre. For classroom resources on the region, see Teaching Central America.