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The "May Guinda"

Virginia remembers the "May Guinda" and how she and her children managed to survive.


At that time, when they kicked us out of Los Filos, that was when I lost my mother. It was not easy to lose her. We were fleeing in the direction of Patamera, and she took another path, we had no idea where she was. Once we got to Patamera we stayed there for a year. The next year was the “Guinda de Mayo,” during that time we roaming everywhere, through all the ravines, all the canyons, we did that for a long time. I carried one child in my arms, another in my hands, and the other walked by himself, holding my hand, and he was carrying a little girl. My first girl had to be carried because she became sick at age four in Los Filos and had a disabled foot. So he carried here while we walked and fled, with the enemy following close behind us. When I was able I found some other people and I told them to help me with the little girl because I was no longer able. They helped me, but the Guinda de Mayo was the hardest, we were fleeing in the mountains for 22 days, sleeping by the banks of streams, the children didn’t have shoes. We didn’t even have water to give them, and I was alone with the children, fleeing by myself because my husband was with the guerrilla, he didn’t help me. We went through 22 days of terror, up and down, enduring. We could only give the children little bits of carao seeds and when there was water we gave them some once a day. And I was caring for a child who in fact was born in a bunker in Los Filos, he was delivered eight days before during a big storm after I had fled from Patamera. The Guinda de Mayo was so sad, I hope that nothing like it ever happens again here, or anywhere else. Because it was terrible, I remember when we made it to Conacaste, I remember that my children and I and the other children could barely walk anymore, we were so hungry, and the guerrilla came by with a lot of meat, because they had slaughtered a cow, and they said to me, “Do you want a piece of meat for the children?” “If you give it to me,” I said. I was just taking it when they said, “Hurry up, because the enemy is coming, they will kill you and the children.” I grabbed it, I remember that I hid under a bush and I split up the meat as well as I could and gave it to the chidren, raw and dripping with rotten blood, but the children I was carrying were so hungry they ate it. So that’s where I was, then I met up with some other families, I was with them a while, then there was a huge firefight and we got separated, and I was fleeing alone. Going every which way, alone with my four children, up and down. There is nothing that could be more difficult. We made it to Santa Anita and found two of my husband’s nieces, one who was big and one who was little. When the enemy was right at our backs, about to catch us, the little girls through themselves into the water. They both drowned. I couldn’t do anything because I had my hands full, I couldn’t do anything. Out of pure pity a guerrilla gave me a hand and helped get my kids across the Sumpul River to Santa Anita on the other side. Once we were in Santa Anita we joined some other people who I did not know, I didn’t know who they were but I had to find support among those people because I couldn’t continue alone with my children. In fact during the Guinda de Mayo I lost my disabled daughter, I left her behind, I left her in that place because I couldn’t carry her any longer. But once the operation had begun to calm down a guerrilla in Santa Anita said to me, “Hey, I think that the one they found is your daughter. The guerrilla found a little girl almost naked, she’s almost naked, they have her somewhere,” he said. “I think she’s your daughter,” he said. “But if she’s mine,” I said, “can I see her?” “We’ll take you to where she is.” So they took me. And as we were heading back towards Los Albertos, we were nearly there when the enemy attacked us again in a hail of bullets, I didn’t have anywhere to run. I just asked God to save me and my children, so I threw her on her stomach in a patch of bamboo and covered her with leaves, and left her there and I ran farther down with the other three children. But thanks to God the operation was heading down towards Honduras, and they weren’t carrying out a search, they were going there, because the Salvadorans collaborated with them, they didn’t find where I had left the little girl covered with leaves. So when I came back they had secured the area and they asked me where I had hid the girl in the leaves, and I said, “over there, she was buried in the leaves” I said, and they went to see and found her and brought her back to me. And in fact she is still with me, now she is a full grown woman, but she is disabled. The war cost her life and soul. That’s why I don’t even, I don’t even want to remember the war…