On the morning of Monday, July 30, more than a thousand students from the University of El Salvador (UES), the country’s only public university, gathered outside of the San Salvador campus to commemorate the 37th anniversary the 1975 student massacre, when university students took to the streets to protest military incursions on the Santa Ana campus and the repressive policies of the military dictatorship in power at the time. The peaceful march was attacked by Salvadoran army soldiers with gunfire and tanks. While there are no official numbers of how many students were killed and wounded in the massacre, it is estimated at least 30 students died and over a hundred more were wounded.
Every year, organized students at the UES hold a variety of activities including academic panels, art expositions, and an all night vigil to remember and commemorate the massacre. The students also hold a march that follows the same path taken by the student demonstrators of 1975 before they were attacked with tanks by the Armed Forces.
The annual march is known for using lively, satirical street theater, large papier mâché effigies, and for addressing the issue of justice for the victims and their families as well as current events. This year the current event that was on most of the student’s minds and banners was the current conflict between the Legislative Assembly and the Supreme Court. Banners reading “Not the empire, nor Constitutional Chambers, nor the bourgeoisie will stop the people’s advances” broadcast the message that the Supreme Court is being manipulated by the economic elite and the US government. A large papier mâché gorilla, representative of the past military dictatorships wore a white T-shirt that read “ANEP [the National Private Business Association] dresses me in white,” criticizing recent “white marches” supposedly organized by civil society in support of the Supreme Court while naming whose interests the marches are actually serving.
The march ended at the site of the 1975 massacre, where survivors shared their testimony and students placed a floral arrangement at the site. March participants then observed a minute of silence with their left fists in the air in memory of those who were murdered. The march ended with the burning of the effigies representative of repression and economic exploitation.