For Immediate Release

January 10, 2007

New York, NY – Ms. Blanca Martinez, a second-year student at the Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW) and Ms. Marina A. Henriquez, Director of Student Services at CUSSW, will participate in the 75th “International Forum on Genocide and Truth” hosted by the José Feliciano Ama Foundation (FAMA) in Izalco, El Salvador from January 17-23, 2007. The forum commemorates the 1932 genocide of Indigenous people of El Salvador. Martinez and Henriquez will be presenting, “A View of Native Peoples from the Salvadoran Diaspora.”

“I am pleased to be a participant from the School of Social Work at this important forum,” says Henriquez. “As a Salvadoran native woman, I feel a deep sense of commitment and responsibility towards my people. We look forward to listening to the testimonies of the natives as well as to contribute to the dialogue on genocide.”

“I take great honor and privilege as a Salvadoran-American to have the opportunity to attend the forum,” says Martinez. “Through our visit to Izalco and the neighboring indigenous towns, I hope to better understand and learn more about a part of my country’s history and culture that has been repressed for many years.”

Responding to a nationwide call for revolt to vindicate long-standing grievances against racism and class exploitation, the Nahuat people rose up in rebellion on January 22, 1932 under the leadership of Jose Feliciano Ama. The brutal way in which the uprising was crushed was later known as La Matanza of 1932. Over a period of weeks, approximately 30,000 people (the overwhelming majority Indians) were slain by the Salvadoran militia. The fear and repression that resonated through decades followed had a devastating impact on El Salvador’s Indigenous people and on their cultural survival. Today generations of Salvadorans and Salvadoran-Americans bear the legacy of this violence and its aftermaths’ many by denying our shared Indigenous culture and heritage.

Representatives from local universities, churches, and international organization will come together to celebrate indigenous culture and support indigenous people in their struggle toward equal rights. The long-term impact of the forum will include “re-discovering” a lost history to educate future generations of Salvadorans and Salvadoran-Americans about their own past.

For more information, please contact Jeannie Yip at 212-851-2327 or jy2223@columbia.edu.

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