Gerardo Barrios in the historical memory of the Salvadoran people

By José Eduardo Cubías Colorado

The events commemorating the death of Captain General Gerardo Barrios did not have civic fervor, as in years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, when the cadet knights of the Military School, that bears his name, they honored him before  the equestrian monument of Barrios in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral, in the square that bore his name, currently nominated, as civic square, in the Historic Center of San Salvador.

But, Who is Gerardo Barrios?, Why do Salvadorans remember him for a Military School, a civic square, an equestrian monument fighting battle, a university in the east of the country, a street, schools and colleges and cultural institutions?, and even corporations destined to the cultivation of coffee.

The following chronicle illustrates the figure of Gerardo Barrios: The 29 August commemorates the death of Captain General Gerardo Barrios, shot in 1865 by orders of Francisco Dueñas, in the post-independence period of the Republic of El Salvador.

On this occasion we will remember to recognize the benefits of the liberal government chaired by Gerardo Barrios (1863-1871) in favor of Public Instruction and the University of El Salvador.

The figure of Gerardo Barrios stands out for his leadership among liberal patriots, with its reforms for a secular education and free will and academic freedom, contrary to conservative governments, who implemented the cloister as a form of government and academic administration at the university, Likewise, dogma and scholasticism as a form of instruction in public schools and colleges.

Barrios always looked for a way to separate the Church from the State, for that purpose he created the Normal Schools of Teachers, in the departmental capitals of Santa Ana, San Salvador and San Miguel, destined to serve in public schools with a lay formation.

Despite the good intentions of the liberal reforms and the benefits for the University and public education, These did not advance due to strong opposition from the clergy and conservative sectors of the landowning oligarchy, which was already manifesting itself as a new political class with economic power and its ambition for power..