|Regions with significant populations|
|California, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Houston, Dallas, New York City, Long Island, Greater Boston, Miami, Northern Virginia, Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Northwest Arkansas,|
|Salvadoran Spanish, English, Lenca, Pipil|
|Christianity (mostly Catholic)|
Salvadoran Americans (Spanish: salvadoreño-americanos, norteamericanos de origen salvadoreño or estadounidenses de origen salvadoreño) are Americans of full or partial Salvadoran descent. As of 2010, there are 1,648,968 Salvadoran Americans in the United States, the fourth-largest Hispanic community by nation of ancestry. Salvadorans are predicted to be the 3rd largest Hispanic group by the next census, replacing Cubans. Recent estimates put the Salvadoran population as high as 2 million, as of 2013. Salvadoran Americans are affectionately nicknamed "Salvis", a term young Salvadoran Americans use to refer to themselves. Salvadorans are the largest group of Central Americans of the Central American Isthmus community in the U.S, they are also one of the largest group of people who are largely of partly American Indigenous ancestry, natives to the Americas. Among the Hispanic groups, Salvadorans are also thee largest group of Spanish speakers in the United States who speak with a medieval voseo dialect in their Salvadoran Spanish, using "vos" instead of tu.
- 1 Demonym
- 2 Endearments
- 3 Language
- 4 Religious affiliation
- 5 History
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Culture and socioeconomics
- 8 Political participation
- 9 Salvadoran Americans relations with El Salvador
- 10 El Salvador and United States relations
- 11 See also
- 12 References
Salvadorian, Salvadorean, and Salvadoran are all three accepted and used terms for naming people of El Salvador ancestry. However both Salvadorian and Salvadorean are equally the most widely used terms in daily life by English speaking El Salvador citizens living in the U.S and other English speaking countries. Salvadorian and Salvadorean in their respectable spelling and pronunciation can be seen in most restaurant and other El Salvador related signs in the U.S and else where in the world. This is because the sounds "ia" and "ea", in Salvadorian and Salvadorean sound more closely to the "ñ" sound in the Spanish term Salvadoreño.
Salvadorans have several important nicknames, which have historical backgrounds.The most widely used and known nickname coined to Salvadorans is Guanaco which means (brother) in Poton Lenca language.
Guanaco is a word of Poton Lenca Indigenous language which means (brother), with origins in eastern and northern El Salvador. Guanaco comes from the word Guanacasco, which means (gathering of brothers) a traditional fellowship the Lenca people of El Salvador do under the Guanacaste tree, (The Tree of Brotherhood) which is a very special symbol of brotherhood for the Lenca people. The Lencas were the first indigenous nation to form in El Salvador, and today they are thee oldest indigenous people living in the country. They continue to celebrate their Guanacasco, as they have been doing continuously for thousands of years in El Salvador's pre-history to modern times.
Salvatrucha is a nicknamed that means (Astute Salvadoran). In El Salvador the word trucha means "to be alert, astute, sharp, keen, and quick-witted". Salvatrucha comes from the same origin the word Catracho comes for Hondurans. In the late 1800s American William Walker (filibuster) invaded Nicaragua, Honduran troops were sent side by side with Salvadoran troops to fight William Walker's men under the leadership of the Xatruch brothers. Florencio Xatruch was named General-in-Chief of the Allied Armies of Central America. On June 12, 1857, Xatruch made a triumphant entrance to Comayagua, which was then the capital of Honduras, after Walker surrendered. The nickname by which Hondurans are known popularly still today, Catracho, and the more infamous nickname Salvadorans are known today, Salvatrucho, were given in honor and are derived from Xatruch's figure and successful campaign as leader of the Allied Armies of Central America, as the troops of El Salvador and Honduras were national heroes, that played a key role, fighting side by side as Central American brothers against William Walkers evil intentions.
Cuzcatleco is a nickname for Salvadorans that comes from Pipil indigenous origin of western El Salvador. The name Cuzcatleco is given in honor of this ancient Mesoamerican nation. The Pipil people got their name from Pipiltin or Pipiltzin which means "of elite and noble toltec origin". The Pipil's nation and capital was named Cuzcatan and they were Cuzcatecs, though when Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado came to Cuzcatan, he pronounced it as Cuscatlan, however the original name was Cuzcatan.
La Mara (the swarm) is a typical nickname for a group of Salvadorans which means swarm, mob, group and gang comes from the word Mara meaning swarms of legionary Army Ants, in Native Mesoamerican indigenous languages from the Lenca and Mayas that inhabited El Salvador. The indigenous Lencas and Mayas admired and held as totem the tiny organized Army Ants that devoured voraciously anything large that came to their path. The ant is evidently a very special totem and character in the Popol Vuh, thus the Indigenous Lencas and Mayas of El Salvador named themselves after the lethal army ants. In present day El Salvador, the word Mara has evolved in many ways, for example when a Salvadoran family or friend reunion or grouping occurs, the expression "lets get the Mara together" or "here comes the Mara" is a typical expression meaning that a group of friends or family is coming together in a party or event, forming an ant-like swarm. A common expression for Salvadorans is (I was born and raised in the middle of the "hormigero" ant colony swarm) meaning being born and raised in a large family with lots of aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, and friends, a typical upbringing in small and close-knit Salvadoran town. It is evident and a testament of how long ants have been a totem and played a key role for Indigenous Salvadoran cultures. However, since the word Mara has the same meaning as gang, when the ruthless youth gangs began forming in Los Angeles during the Salvadoran civil war exodus in the 1980s, the gangs adopted the word Maras (gangs), for their organized gangs, formed by former Salvadoran child soldiers and other Central American kids, in honor of the very busy and voracious swarms of legionary army ants.
Salvi is a widely used affectionate nickname the younger generations of English speaking Salvadoran Americans in The United States give to themselves. Salvi is English for Spanish Salvita, an affectionate way of calling boys with the name 'Salvador' in El Salvador, thus Salvi means of El Salvador origin. Salvadorans that live outside of El Salvador, usually refer to their diaspora populations as a (Salvi Nation).
Salvadorans speak Spanish in a medieval voseo speech form equivalent to Thou, making them the largest voseo Spanish speakers in the United States. Salvadoran Spanish is one of the largest types of Spanish spoken in the United States. In Washington D.C, Salvadoran Spanish is the largest type of Spanish spoken and its the only city in the U.S where Salvadoran Spanish is the first types of Spanish spoken, while in Los Angeles, Salvadoran Spanish is the second type of Spanish spoken. Salvadoran Voseo Spanish and Salvadoran slang called (Salvadoran Caliche), is a source of identity and virility to Salvadoran American youth. Its also creates a kinship with other Central American groups especially Hondurans who have the closest Central American Spanish speech form as Salvadorans. Salvadoran Spanish holds many Native American Indigenous dialects from the Lenca and Pipil language that have survived in Salvadoran Spanish.
As of May 2012, the majority of the population is Christian. Roman Catholics (47%) and Evangelicals (33%) are the two major Christian denominations in the country. Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism are two of the notable Protestant denominations of El Salvador. Anglicanism also has a long and growing presence. Those not affiliated with any religious group amount to 17% of the population. The remainder of the population (3%) is made up of a small number of Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Jews, and those adhering to indigenous religious beliefs.
The first Salvadorans before the war began, arrived mostly to San Francisco, where today there is a large Salvadoran community, however once the war unraveled, a massive population of Salvadorans arrived in Los Angeles, where today holds the largest population of Salvadorans, becoming the second largest Hispanic group in that city. A large population of Salvadorans arrived in the capital, Washington D.C, it is the only city in the U.S where Salvadorans are the largest Hispanic group overall. The Salvadorans from these U.S cities keep close knit ties with the city of San Salvador, a city that is influenced by Salvadorans of those U.S cities, especially Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Salvadoran immigration to the United States is a fairly recent phenomenon. The movement is small in comparison with some of the great immigration waves of the past, but it has a profound significance for both countries. One of the striking characteristics of El Salvador is the extreme stark difference between the rich and the poor. There are rich people in El Salvador, and they are extremely rich which are called the ultra-wealthy citizens of El Salvador. But the majority of the population is poor, and there are a lot of people who are extremely poor. Common wisdom has it that El Salvador is run by 14 families. In any other country in the world, this is public information, yet, in El Salvador, the identity of the oligarchy has been treated like a state secret. In the late 1970's, two classes of people exist, the very wealthy live on rich luxurious pristine suburban areas of San Salvador, while the vast majority on an overpopulated, devastated, and ruined El Salvador rural country side in a society class disparity openly rigged against the poor by tyrannical dictators controlled by the ultra-wealthy inhabitants. In 1980 Oscar Romero takes on a mission that could bring peace to the polarized worlds, however he is murdered and thus begins the turning point of El Salvador's dark history. The Salvadoran Civil War takes place on a ravaged El Salvador between the poor majority, and a infamous rich minority, notoriously called The 14 Families. The war explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, health care, exploitation, the justice system, and class issues. While those on El Salvador's rual country side are policed by ruthless death squads, El Salvador's wealthiest citizens live thriving, in absolute comfort, and have access to fundamental and essential resources like health care. The poor live in the ruins of El Salvador bombarded by poverty, earthquakes, cyclones and vulnerability to diseases. The United States supplies El Salvador weaponry as well as the military death squads which police El Salvador, who offer a vigorous defense of their right to use unlimited force to benefit the liberty of the wealthy, who will stop at nothing to enforce suppression and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the wealthy citizens of El Salvador. Salvadoran civilians seek help from smugglers called coyotes, to get them to the United States, since their only chance for survival is abandoning their El Salvador homeland. During the tail end of the 20th century, widespread U.S imported gang culture threatened the rest of war torn population of El Salvador to a post crash future. The flight of Salvadorans from their own country was the most dramatic result and part of the El Salvador civil war saga, draining that country of between 20 and 30 percent of its population. Recent migration caused by violence due to the Maras (gangs) in the Central American isthmus, is also part of The El Salvador Disaster, and the Central American crisis saga. Before the 1980s, Salvadoran society was split between stark class differences consisting of the rich elite oligarchy Salvadorans, the Salvadoran soldiers, and the multi-purpose Salvadorans workers. At the very bottom were the Salvadoran under class, many of this group was made up of Salvadorans who came back from Honduras after the (100 hour war), and found no support from the El Salvador government. The rich elite oligarchy Salvadorans known infamously as The 14 Families, which were in fact hundreds of Salvadoran families that controlled the lands in the 14 Departments of El Salvador, hence the families who owned, controlled, and benefited from most of the land in the fourteen provinces of El Salvador. Salvadoran soldiers focus their attention to the defense of the fourteen families and protecting their interest. Salvadoran workers were exploited, split between industrious labors in the urban centers or tending to the lands in agriculture on the country side. Salvadoran soldiers were well known for their aggression towards Salvadoran civilians, terrorising mostly the poor and under class. The military would soon be used as death squads by rich Salvadorans against the rest of the population which would unravel the Salvadoran civil war saga.
Half or more of the refugees—between 500,000 and one million—immigrated to the United States, which was home to less than 10,000 Salvadorans before 1960 (Faren Bachelis, The Central Americans [New York: Chelsea House, 1990], p. 10; cited hereafter as Bachelis). El Salvador's exiled population is already changing life at home through its influence and its dollars and will undoubtedly play an important role in its future history.
Salvadoran American immigration has changed the face of foreign affairs in the United States. The flood of refugees from a U.S.-supported government forced a national rethinking of foreign policy priorities. This in turn transformed the nature of American support for the Salvadoran government and may have helped to end the war in El Salvador. Salvadoran Americans are at the center of an ongoing national debate about U.S. responsibility toward the world's refugees and the future of immigration in general.
Exodus Immigration (1980s-)
The exodus of Salvadorans was a result of both economic and political problems. The largest immigration wave occurred as a result of (The El Salvador Disaster), the Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s, in which 20%-30% of El Salvador's population emigrated. About 50% percent, or up to 500,000 of those who escaped headed to the U.S., which was already home to over 10,000 Salvadorans, making Salvadorans Americans the third-largest Hispanic and Latino American group, after the Mexican American majority and Cubans (when not including Stateside Puerto Ricans). Salvadorans however are predicted to replace Cubans as the largest population by the next census.
As civil wars engulfed several Central American countries in the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans fled their country and came to the United States. Between 1980 and 1990, the Salvadoran immigrant population in the United States increased nearly fivefold from 94,000 to 465,000.
The number of Salvadoran immigrants in the United States continued to grow in the 1990s and 2000s as a result of family reunification and new arrivals fleeing a series of natural disasters that hit El Salvador, including earthquakes and hurricanes. By 2008, there were about 1.1 million Salvadoran immigrants in the United States. Salvadorans are the country's fifth largest immigrant group after Mexican, Filipino, Indian, and Chinese foreign born.
The immigrant population from this tiny Central American country is now nearly as large as the immigrant population from much larger China. (As reference, China's total population is 200 times larger and its territory is about 500 times larger than El Salvador's.)
Areas of concentration
Many Salvadoran Americans reside in the Greater Los Angeles area, including Orange County, California, the Inland Empire and San Diego; Miami-Dade or South Florida as well in Central Florida; The Washington Metropolitan Area: Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia, is currently the only metropolitan area in the entire country where Salvadorans are the majority among Hispanics, most concentrated in the suburbs in Northern Virginia and Maryland. A city dubbed Chirilagua has existed for decades in between Alexandria and Arlington in Virginia due to the many Salvadorans living there from that particular town.
There is also a large number in Texas esp. in Houston, Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; increasingly New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005; and in other California regions outside of Los Angeles such as the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, there is a significant number of Salvadoran Americans in the New York City area such as Northern New Jersey, Flushing, Queens, Corona, Queens, Far Rockaway, Queens, Parkchester, Bronx, South Bronx, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Long Island. In Massachusetts, Salvadorans tend to reside in Greater Boston, mostly in cities such as Chelsea, Somerville, Everett, Revere, or Boston. Salvadorans have also established a significant community in the island of Nantucket (Where Salvadorans account for 7.3% of the total population there as of 2010), of which a sizable majority come from the municipality of Agua Caliente, El Salvador.
Recent census data shows that for the first time and are now the largest Latino group in Long Island, there are more Salvadorans living on Long Island than Puerto Ricans, with Salvadorans, now numbering nearly 100,000, representing nearly a quarter of all Hispanics in the region. Salvadorans are also highly concentrated in Atlanta and northern Georgia as well in the Chicago metro area.
|District of Columbia||16,611||2.8%|
|Total US Salvadoran Population||1,648,968||0.5%|
Race and ethnicity
Much of the Salvadoran population that came to the U.S. are of Mestizo ancestry, a mixture of Native American Indigenous and European (more specifically mostly Spanish) ancestry, as well as tri-racial Pardo Salvadorans who have African blood lines in addition to their Indigenous and Spanish ancestries. The Salvadorans of mixed ancestry Mestizos, can vary differently from European and Native American ancestry. For example some Salvadoran have Lenca ancestry, while others have Pipil ancestry. While Spanish is the main European ancestry in Salvadoran Mestizo mixture, others like French and Italian are also present. Afro-Salvadoran ancestry is also found among Mestizo Salvadorans a well as Arab and Asian ancestry. This makes El Salvador, a society with a myriad of ancestries, the melting pot stage in El Salvador is considered to have already blended and concluded into modern day Salvadorans, though American Indigenous Lenca and Pipil ancestry and heritage is the main base and most strongest in El Salvador's ancestry, heritage, and culture.
Among Salvadorans who also identify themselves as Mestizo culturally are Salvadorans who are racially European/White, especially Mediterranean, Indigenous Salvadorans who do not speak indigenous languages nor are they acculturated into Indigenous Salvadoran culture and tri-racial Afro-mestizo "Pardo" Salvadorans. The Indigenous Salvadorans are mostly of Lenca and Pipil. Many of the mixed (more specifically mostly Mestizo) and White Caucasian Salvadorans have ancestry from, Italy, Portugal, Germany, France, England, and Ireland. The majority of Salvadorans who are of Mestizo ancestry can trace their American Indigenous ancestry to the Lencas and Pipil people.
Salvadorans also have Arab ancestries that include Lebanon, Syria, Iran and the majority come from Palestine that immigrated to El Salvador. There is a significant number of Jewish Salvadoran families in the country.
The largest Salvadoran populations are found within these areas (Source: Census 2010)
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA MSA - 381,519 (3.0%)
- Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA - 228,045 (4.1%)
- New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA MSA - 199,510 (1.1%)
- Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX MSA - 140,928 (2.4%)
- San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA MSA - 77,149 (1.8%)
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA - 59,383 (0.9%)
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA MSA - 42,672 (1.0%)
- Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH MSA - 36,929 (0.8%)
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL MSA - 33,033 (0.6%)
- Las Vegas-Paradise, NV MSA - 24,542 (1.3%)
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA MSA - 24,439 (0.5%)
- Baltimore-Towson, MD MSA - 17,980 (0.7%)
- Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI MSA - 13,700 (0.1%)
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA MSA - 12,085 (0.7%)
- Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC MSA - 12,080 (0.7%)
- Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ MSA - 9,840 (0.2%)
- Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO MSA - 8,865 (1.9%)
- Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, CA MSA - 8,701 (0.4%)
- Bakersfield-Delano, CA MSA - 8,485 (1.0%)
- Richmond, VA MSA - 8,238 (0.7%)
US communities with largest population of people of Salvadoran ancestry
The top 25 US communities with the highest populations of Salvadorans were (Source: Census 2010)
- Los Angeles, California - 228,990
- Houston, Texas - 75,907
- New York, New York - 38,559
- Washington, D.C. - 16,611
- San Francisco, California - 16,165
- Brentwood, New York - 15,946
- Dallas, Texas - 15,696
- Irving, Texas - 12,544
- Boston, Massachusetts - 10,850
- Hempstead, New York - 10,707
- Charlotte, North Carolina - 9,516
- Palmdale, California - 9,488
- Wheaton, Maryland - 8,912
- Las Vegas, Nevada - 8,392
- Elizabeth, New Jersey - 7,364
- Chillum, Maryland - 7,315
- Oakland, California - 7,246
- Silver Spring, Maryland - 7,103
- Arlington County, Virginia - 7,088
- Dale City, Virginia - 7,036
- San Jose, California - 6,829
- Long Beach, California - 6,657
- Alexandria, Virginia - 6,436
- Chelsea, Massachusetts - 6,391
- Santa Ana, California - 6,389
US communities with high percentages of people of Salvadoran ancestry
Top US communities with the highest Salvadoran ancestry in 2010:
- Islandia, Florida 44.4%
- Brentwood, New York 26.3%
- New Cassel, New York 24.7%
- Colmar Manor, Maryland 24.7%
- North Bay Shore, New York 23.9%
- Langley Park, Maryland 22.5%
- Edmonston, Maryland 22.0%
- Brentwood, Maryland 22.0%
- Mendota, California 21.9%
- Chillum, Maryland 21.8%
- Uniondale, New York 20.2%
- Hempstead, New York 19.9%
- North Brentwood, Maryland 19.1%
- Adelphi, Maryland 19.1%
- Landover Hills, Maryland 19.1%
- Central Islip, New York 18.5%
- Wheaton, Maryland 18.5%
- Cottage City, Maryland 18.3%
- Woodlawn, Maryland 18.3%
- Chelsea, Massachusetts 18.2%
- Woodlawn, Virginia 17.9%
- Marumsco, Virginia 17.9%
- Roosevelt, New York 17.8%
- Loch Lomond, Virginia 17.6%
- Hyattsville, Maryland 16.4%
- Sudley, Virginia 16.4%
- Yorkshire, Virginia 16.3%
- Huntington Station, New York 15.8%
- Inwood, New York 15.6%
- Herndon, Virginia 15.5%
- East Riverdale, Maryland 15.2%
- Mount Rainier, Maryland 14.4%
- Sterling, Virginia 14.0%
- Monon, Indiana 14.0%
- El Jebel, Colorado 13.8%
U.S. communities with the most residents born in El Salvador
Top 25 U.S. communities with the most residents born in El Salvador are:
- Langley Park, MD 25.2%
- Seven Corners, VA 18.0%
- New Cassel, NY 15.5%
- Mendota, CA 13.8%
- Brentwood, NY 12.9%
- Hempstead, NY 12.3%
- Bailey's Crossroads, VA 12.2%
- Adelphi, MD 11.3%
- North Bay Shore, NY 10.6%
- Herndon, VA 10.3%
- Edmonston, MD 9.6%
- Chelsea, MA 8.8%
- Wheaton-Glenmont, MD 8.7%
- Chillum, MD 8.2%
- Silver Spring, MD 7.9%
- West New York, NJ 7.8%
- Uniondale, NY 7.8%
- Jefferson, VA 7.5%
- El Jebel, CO 7.5%
- Colma, CA 7.5%
- Mount Rainier, MD 7.3%
- Huntington Station, NY 7.2%
- Cottage City, MD 7.2%
- West Gate, VA 7.2%
- Freeport, NY 7.2%
Culture and socioeconomics
Asylum laws prohibit many Salvadorans from renewing their ties to their home culture. Most asylum seekers cannot visit El Salvador, even for a loved one's funeral, without losing their legal status in the United States. (The assumption is that anyone who travels to El Salvador—whatever the reason—is not really afraid of persecution there.) Thus, many the U.S.' Salvadorans are torn between embracing the culture of the United States and maintaining their Salvadoran identities.
U.S.-Salvadorans form an insular community—with their own social clubs, doctors, even banks—and often have little contact with outsiders. They maintain a tight network, living almost exclusively with other people from their home country, or even their hometown (Pamela Constable, "We Will Stay Together," Washington Post Magazine, October 30, 1994; Doreen Cavaja,"Making Ends Meet in a Nether World," New York Times, December 13, 1994). Many older immigrants have spent more than ten years in the United States without learning any English.
Although they immigrated largely out of fear rather than a desire for a new life, Salvadorans in the United States, especially the younger generations, are gradually becoming Anglicized. While conditions have improved in El Salvador, few refugees have returned home. The United States—once a place of refuge—has become a new home for Salvadoran immigrants. To reflect the changing needs of the United State's Salvadoran community, the Central American Refugee Center in Los Angeles (CARECEN), one of the largest support organizations for refugees, changed its name to the Central America Resource Center (Elston Carr, "A New Direction," Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1993).
Foreign-born men and women from El Salvador have higher rates of participation in the civilian labor force than immigrant men overall. They are also heavily concentrated in construction and services.
Many cultural observers contend that mainstream United States has not yet formed a distinct stereotype of US-Salvadorans, though because most of the concerns and affairs of Salvadorans in the U.S media point out and focuses generally in the U.S's Proxy war showdown and involvement in the Salvadoran Civil War legacy, Maras (gangs), violence, and crime rates of El Salvador, naming it the most dangerous region of planet earth, the word El Salvador is sometimes stereotypically seen as being synonymous with a dangerous Gotham City-like society, Jurassic Park-like land, bleak, lost world, and a dystopian nation. The word Salvadoran is sometimes synonymous with atavistic society, rife, vice, crime, and psychopathic cold blooded gremlin-like murders in the media. Ultimately, El Salvador and the Salvadoran population are seen as a type of post apocalyptic war torn society and world, or a tiny and inconsequential Whoville somewhere in Central America.
Salvadorans have settled in neighborhoods already populated by other Latin Americans, and outsiders generally have only a vague sense of the various Latino nationalities in those neighborhoods.
US-Salvadorans have sometimes had tense relations with their neighbors in the cities where they are concentrated. Salvadoran gangs have fought with Mexican gangs in Los Angeles, and in Washington, D.C., a city with a significant Salvadoran population, they have competed with African Americans for jobs and resources.
The Washington DC Metro Area has some Salvadoran American politicians representing the voice of the second largest Salvadoran community that lives there. Leading the county board of the smallest self-governing county in the US with the 3rd highest income, Walter Tejada governs over Arlington County, VA. Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez represents the 18th District of Montgomery County, MD, the 10th highest income county in the US. Delegate Victor R. Ramirez represents the 47th District of Prince George's County, MD, the wealthiest African American-majority county in the US. A partner of Ramirez is Prince George's County Council member William A. Campos.
Salvadorans do not have nearly as much influence with the political establishment as voting constituencies have. In Los Angeles, for instance, there is a stark contrast between the U.S.-born Chicano neighborhoods of East L.A. and the Pico-Union and West-lake neighborhoods, populated by immigrant Mexicans and Central Americans. The former have many community centers, legal services, and social workers; the latter have very few (Hector Tobar, "No Strength in Numbers for LA's Divided Latinos," Los Angeles Times, September 1, 1992). This situation is slowly changing, however: Carlos Vaquerano, the Salvadoran community affairs director of CARECEN, was named to the board of Rebuild L.A., organized to help the city recover from the L.A. riots in 1992 (Miles Corwin, "Understanding the Riots," Los Angeles Times, November 16, 1992).
One area of U.S. politics in which Salvadoran Americans have played an important role is in legislation regarding their immigration status. In the debate leading to the passage of Temporary Protected Status for Salvadoran refugees and the extensions of that status, Salvadoran organizations lobbied politicians and brought their cases of persecution to the press. At first, refugee organizations were run by Americans, and Salvadorans often appeared in public only with bandannas over their faces. Gradually, Salvadorans and other Central Americans began to take charge of the refugee organizations and assume a higher public profile.
Salvadoran Americans have also contributed significantly to labor union activity. Many refugees fought for the right to organize under repressive conditions in El Salvador, and they brought dedication, even militancy, to American unions. In a 1990 Los Angeles janitors' strike, for instance, Salvadoran union members continued to march and demonstrate even under the threat of police violence. And Salvadoran street vendors in Los Angeles have organized to improve their precarious situation (Tracy Wilkinson, "New Questions Arise for Salvadorans in Los Angeles," Los Angeles Times, January 12, 1992).
Salvadoran Americans relations with El Salvador
Most Salvadoran Americans are not active in or outspoken about Salvadoran politics. Those U.S. organizations most actively involved in Salvadoran politics (such as the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, CISPES) have attracted little participation by Salvadoran Americans themselves. The immigrants' own organizations have focused not on politics at home, but on relief and jobs in immigrant communities throughout the United States. This relative indifference to home politics may be surprising, given the political passions that have long raged in El Salvador; but the majority of Salvadoran Americans seem interested in putting the hatred of the past behind them.
While the most ideologically committed of the Salvadoran refugees settled in Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Australia, or Canada, those who settled in the United States focused on survival and building a community. Refugees who fled the government and refugees who fled the guerrillas have a lot in common; many will not even discuss their political beliefs, lest it disrupt the fragile solidarity of the refugee community. Furthermore, many Salvadorans on the left became active in politics because of the desperate poverty and class war in El Salvador; when they arrived in the United States, where it seemed for the first time possible to escape poverty through hard work, their political commitment sometimes melted away.
Salvadorans outside El Salvador are not permitted to cast absentee ballots in that country's elections. The majority of the refugee community is thought to favor the left, and the absence of their votes is believed to have helped the right-wing party ARENA win the Salvadoran presidency in 1989 and 1994 (Lisa Leff, "At Peace but Uneasy, Salvadorans Vote Today," Washington Post, March 20, 1994).
The relative lack of political influence among Salvadoran Americans is not necessarily permanent. Salvadoran immigrants are densely concentrated in a few cities, and they have a strong infrastructure in refugee organizations. As more Salvadorans become U.S. citizens, the immigrant community will probably play a larger role in local and regional politics. And given their economic contribution, they will almost certainly come to exert more influence in El Salvador.
El Salvador and United States relations
The history of U.S.-El Salvador relations encompasses some controversial moves and operations by the United States, e.g. the U.S.-involvement in the Salvadoran Civil War and interference in Salvadoran elections such as during the 2004 presidential election.
President Obama and President Funes announced the U.S.-El Salvador Partnership for Growth during President Obama's March 2011 visit to El Salvador. El Salvador is one of four counties—-along with the Philippines, Ghana, and Tanzania—-with which the United States is undertaking this partnership. The Partnership began with an analysis by economic experts from both countries, which identified the two key binding constraints to growth in El Salvador as crime and insecurity, as well as low productivity in the tradeables sector. Based on this assessment, the U.S. government worked closely with the Government of El Salvador to identify and prioritize key activities that would address those constraints to growth and unlock El Salvador's economic potential. The activities are outlined in a Joint Country Action Plan that will steer the partnership moving forward.
The recent 2009 elections resulted in the election of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party over the ARENA party that had been in power since 1992. ARENA supporters argued that the victory of FMLN would result in retaliation from the United States and lead to political reforms similar to those in Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela despite the U.S official neutral position. An Obama visit to El Salvador symbolized its acceptance of the new government and show to other Latin American countries that it will maintain strong ties despite the change of regime. The shift from ARENA to FMLN does symbolize the growing disenchantment of the Salvadoran population with Washington foreign policy.
Despite this shift, El Salvador has not decided to become more self-reliant. The economic development it experienced by following the Washington Consensus was worth the cost of economic reforms because it was able to access the American market and compete in the global market. Therefore, the Obama visit validated the stability within El Salvador in the transition from ARENA to FMLN and showed other countries in the region the benefits of following the Washington Consensus. Obama’s visit was in order to strengthen America’s position in Central America and show that countries that follow liberalization reforms enjoy stronger ties with the United States.
El Salvador’s accommodation on economic and militia demand also meant that the United States would provide more benefits to Salvadorans living within the United States; Salvadorans have been eligible to receive TPS (Temporary Protection Status) since 2001. Approximately 2 million Salvadorans live in the United States, making it the sixth largest ethnic group in the United States. Such a large number of Salvadorans means that they have the capacity to send money back to El Salvador, which would make a very large contribution to its economy.
Remittances from the United States make El Salvador more dependent on the United States support for Salvadorans living there. Thus, it is imperative that El Salvador maintains strong political ties with the American government because of its dependence on remittances. Remittances account for twenty percent of El Salvador’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which makes the economic ties with the United States even more important. Salvadorans who reside in the United States benefit as well from El Salvador’s accommodation as exemplified by the American government’s consistent extension of the TPS.
El Salvador has lobbied successfully for those extensions because of the strong ties that have been forged. United States-El Salvador relations have been a reciprocal relationship in which El Salvador has gained much more than if it were to have chosen a resistance strategy. Thus, President Obama’s choice to stop in El Salvador exemplifies to the Salvadoran community in the United States that they have nothing to fear with the change of political parties.
The special relationship developed between the United States and El Salvador in the past 20 years has differentiated El Salvador from its neighboring Central American countries. Despite the high level of violence, El Salvador has transformed itself into a stable democracy and a success story in economic development.
U.S.-Salvadoran relations remain close and strong. U.S. policy towards the country promotes the strengthening of El Salvador's democratic institutions, rule of law, judicial reform, and civilian police; national reconciliation and reconstruction; and economic opportunity and growth. El Salvador has been a committed member of the coalition of nations fighting against terrorism and has sent 10 rotations of troops to Iraq to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On August 26, 2011 Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte joined Salvadoran Minister of Defense David Munguía Payés in a formal send-off ceremony for 22 Salvadoran troops who will deploy to Afghanistan on August 28. The 22 troops will serve as instructor trainers within NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTM-A). Specifically, 9 Air Force Trainers will work with the Afghan Air Units in Herat, 3 Military Police Trainers will work with the Afghan Police Academy in Kabul, and 10 Counter-Insurgency Instructors will operate throughout Afghanistan, training military and police units as part of 6 Mobile Training Teams.
Salvadoran troops have earned a reputation as an effective and professional military force for their participation in international humanitarian missions to Lebanon, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Sudan and Haiti. El Salvador’s Cuscatlán Battalion also served with distinction during 11 rotations in support of humanitarian and reconstruction activities in Iraq. This latest deployment will mark El Salvador’s first participation in the NATO mission to Afghanistan.
U.S. ties to El Salvador are dynamic and growing. More than 19,000 American citizens live and work full-time in El Salvador. Most are private businesspersons and their families, but a small number of American citizen retirees have been drawn to El Salvador by favorable tax conditions. The Embassy's consular section provides a full range of citizenship services to this community. The American Chamber of Commerce in El Salvador is located at World Trade Center, Torre 2, local No. 308, 89 Av. Nte. Col. Escalón, phone: 2263-9494.
Principal U.S. officials include:
- Ambassador: Mari Carmen Aponte
- Deputy Chief of Mission: Robert Blau
- USAID Mission Chief—Deborah Kennedy-Iraheta
- Political Counselor—Maeve Dwyer
- Economic Counselor—Mitch Ferguson
- Commercial Officer—Michael McGee
- Public Affairs Officer—Marti Estell
The U.S. Embassy in El Salvador is located in Antiguo Cuscatlán.
- US Census Bureau 2012 American Community Survey B03001 1-Year Estimates HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN retrieved September 20, 2013
- US Census Bureau 2011 American Community Survey B03001 1-Year Estimates HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN retrieved October 28, 2012
- Salvadorans in the US
- Faren Bachelis (1990). The Central Americans. New York: Chelsea House. p. 10.
- http://www.ack.net/nantucketsalvadorans072811.html From Agua Caliente to Nantucket: Island home to thriving Salvadoran community
- US Census Bureau: Table QT-P10 Hispanic or Latino by Type: 2010 retrieved January 6, 2014 - select state from drop-down menu
- PCT1 TOTAL POPULATION
- "Top 101 cities with the most residents born in El Salvador (population 500+)". city-data.com. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
- George Miller. "El Salvador: Policy of Deceit", The New York Times, October 21, 1988.
- Dana Rohrabacher Speaks out on El Salvador Election, Clashes With Obama Administration