Elvia Alvarado

Our Latin America Reading Group will discuss Elvia Alvarado’s testimony, Don’t Be Afraid, Gringo on Thursday 30 May at 7 p.m. at Café Ventana.


I imagine Elvia meeting up with Che
And the revolutionary icon
Being appropriately silent, humbled

“It was something completely new for us. We never really discussed all these community problems, and we surely never felt that we could do anything about them. But just talking about it together made us feel like yes, maybe we could do something to make our lives a little easier.”

Let’s not be afraid, hermanas
Elvia is telling us what we know
Then forget

“[The church] wanted us to give food out to the malnourished mothers and children, but they didn’t want us to question why we were malnourished to begin with.”

We get so busy
So distracted
So distant

“But the millions of dollars the gringos send don’t help the poor campesinos. The money isn’t used to create jobs so that everyone can work, Instead the money is for arms, for airplanes, for war tanks. But we don’t eat airplanes, we don’t eat tanks, we don’t eat bullets.The only things we campesinos eat is corn and beans. So what good are all those weapons?”

Her book is a wake up call
Another Kafkan axe
To break open the sea frozen inside us

“Why should there be rich people that have more than they need and poor who don’t have anything? God didn’t plan it that way. He planned for us to be equals.  That’s why we have to build a society where everyone has the right to live a decent life.”

Her testimony is familiar
Like so many of the women and men
Mev interviewed  for The Struggle isOne

“But I still kept coming up against what I thought was our biggest obstacle: the fact that we campesinos didn’t have land to grow our food on. Most of us didn’t have any land; some families had small plots but not big enough to feed themselves. I felt that without land we’d never get out of poverty.”

Like so many women all over the planet
Guatemala and Kenya
Palestine and India

“We collected money to help the family, and after the vigil we went right back to the land. We knew that crying wouldn’t get us anywhere. We had to go back to the land and refuse to leave it. We had to use [Mario’s] death to give us even more courage.”

Solidarity is shared sweat
Shared joy
Shared pain

“It gives us a lot of courage to know we’re not alone in our struggle. There are a lot of professional people, university professors, lawyers, doctors who help us. Lawyers who defend us and don’t charge us a penny. Doctors who treat us for free. Professors who get on the radio denounce the authorities when we get captured.”

Solidarity is joining the struggle
Taking comparable risks here
To the ones the Honduran campesinos take there

“I’d say the best way to show solidarity with us is not by sending food or clothing or dollars. No. Show your solidarity by telling your government that Honduras belongs to the Hondurans. Tell your government to get out of our country and leave us alone. And stand by us in our struggle.”


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