Moving Forward in El Salvador

17 August 2010 at 13:42 7 comments

Whether it’s the memory of a drawn-out civil war, stories of gangs and violence, or the influence of one of Central America’s most prolific emigrant communities, El Salvador’s complex past directly relates to the challenges it faces today.

El Salvador’s modern history stems from its Civil War, officially fought between 1980 and 1992. Waged within the context of the Cold War, the conflict pit an established national army, backed by the Reagan administration, against a leftist guerilla force known as the FMLN. The guerillas were based in the rugged and remote mountains of northeastern El Salvador, in a region known as Morazán.

Due to its agricultural roots and rough terrain, Morazán was the poorest county in El Salvador, and the constant federal assaults on the region devastated its infrastructure. The stronger and better-equipped army forces struggled to deal with the ragged and often disorganized guerillas on their home turf, and as their frustration mounted civilians in Morazán became associated with the revolutionary forces. In the early 1980s, the government adopted a policy to quitarle el agua al pez (take the water from the fish), methodically destroying the towns of Morazán and forcing an exodus of refugees to Honduras and Nicaragua. Included in this offensive was the 1981 massacre of civilians in the town of Mozote, an incident forcefully denied by both Salvadoran and American government for years to come.

As the fighting slowed in the late 1980s and army forces left the region, European aid workers from refugee camps across the border gathered with seventeen community leaders in Morazán to rebuild their communities. Morazán had no public services – no schools, no hospitals, and in many areas no roads. Their organization came to be known as PADECOMSM, a Spanish acronym for the Fund for Community Development in Morazán and San Miguel.

For the last twenty years, PADECOMSM has been working to support the return of families and communities displaced by the Salvadoran Civil War through development projects. Their microfinance arm, PADECOMSMCrédito, started with three clients, a typewriter, and one employee, and today has grown to a portfolio of more than $3 million and almost 3,000 loans. The organization continues to grow, and its talented and dedicated staff of forty is working to expand services to more isolated areas within the region.

By providing their clients with access to capital, PADECOMSMCrédito enables them to start businesses and organizations that provide needed services to the people of Morazán. As the local economies within the region continue to grow and prosper, infrastructure improves, and new opportunities emerge for economic advancement.

Making a loan to a PADECOMSM client supports more than a single entrepreneur; it supports an entire community.

The monument in El Mozote, remembering those killed in the massacre

Brandon Vaughan (KF12) is learning and living the history of El Salvador every day as a Kiva Fellow with PADECOMSMCrédito en Departamento Morazán. Loan to a PADECOMSM client or join our lending team – we’re posting more and more loans every day.

Entry filed under: Americas, blogsherpa, Countries, El Salvador, KF12 (Kiva Fellows 12th Class). Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

A Celebration for Savers in San Jose Planting Trees with Schoolchildren – Social Responsibility in Microfinance


  • 1. PROESA and Mozote « Brandon and Berthá  |  10 September 2010 at 15:18

    […] Mozote, a tow famous for being the site of a terrible massacre during the war. I talked about it a little bit here a while […]

  • 2. Lorena  |  18 August 2010 at 08:06

    Hey Brandon– great post! I conducted a research project in graduate school looking at the high remittance rates in El Salvador not sure if the MFI is keeping tack of this information on borrowers.

  • 3. Nadia  |  18 August 2010 at 07:29

    Great post Brandon! Reading it is making it miss my own fellowship…you’re gonna have an awesome time.

  • 4. Elena  |  17 August 2010 at 23:25

    Well said! So glad to understand PADECOMSM in the larger historical context. Hopefully an understanding of the American presence in El Salvador can shed light on current relations between the US and Central America today…

  • 5. donaldhart  |  17 August 2010 at 22:20

    Nice post Brandon — thanks for the historical background. It seems microfinance can be especially powerful as a tool in post-conflict settings, helping restart the economic engine.

    • 6. Sam  |  18 August 2010 at 00:39

      Second what Donald said.

  • 7. Moving Forward in El Salvador « Brandon and Berthá  |  17 August 2010 at 13:59

    […] Check out my first post about El Salvador and PADECOMSM on the Kiva Fellows Blog! […]

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