Testimonies of the pandemic and traces of displacement

By Alberto Barrera

I recently read two books: “Virulencia Alfabeta” and “La Soledad de los Errantes” that reflect the impression on storytellers and poets by the fury of the COVID-19 pandemic and the traumatic separation of internally displaced persons due to the violence in El Salvador.

Virulencia Alfabeta is a production and effort by Ediciones Amate Vos - a literary group formed more than 30 years- what includes 17 stories and poems of nine writers, among them Luis Melgar Brizuela and Miguel Ángel Chinchilla, long-time and young Vladimir Amaya and journalist friend and colleague, Amndré Renteria.

Melgar Brizuela contributes two poems "prayer" one to Quetzalcóat "archaic god" and the other "Prayer to Saint Romero of America in the face of pandemics" in which he alludes to reality and launches harsh criticism of the current government, Silvia Ethel Mathus poet and social fighter alludes to the alarm, fear and anxiety in "Poem of the Quarantine, year 1 "due to the confinement ordered by the authorities that generated" silence and artificial stillness cultivated by the old / renewed olive green ".

Chinchilla and Renteria bring us stories of infidelities, apocalyptic dangers and mysteries due to the pandemic and the official mismanagement of the pandemic in excellent stories based on current events in the country and the world.

The editors explain in the presentation of the book the purpose of publishing a literary testimony “about this unpublished and extraordinary period in the history of mankind, in which the virus has reduced us to the bottom of the cave, terrified by the fear of the plague that unleashed and uncontrollable, threatens to destroy men and women, without distinction of races, creeds and political affiliations ".

The explanation is clear and forceful from the publishing group that has been characterized by its critical positions on social and political issues throughout its existence.. On the cover is presented the painting "La Cuarentena" by the painter Antonio Bonilla.

While La Soledad de los Errantes gathers 14 sad reports, tough and chilling that are a creative effort of young writers Jeannette Cruz, Derlin De Leon, Oscar González and fellow journalist Hugo Sánchez, members of the literary group "La Mosca Azul".

In “Nobody Saw Them Arrive” Hugo Sánchez recounts the sadness of a family that is forced to leave their rural plot because that is what an envoy from the criminal structure that dominates the area asks of them and they need control but by refusing they are forced by blood and fire. Death and destruction is what Rosa's family has left.

The stories are of violence, threats and harassment to death, in which not only gangs are linked, the military also stalk and participate in the disaster of poor families or the story "Zopes" by Jeannette Cruz about "Don Gustavo" a poor "scavenger" in garbage dumps from which he collects waste and even food for his children, one of which disappeared and was found in a ravine following the flight of the buzzards.

The first edition of this book in 2019 it was thanks to the support of the Educo Education and Cooperation Foundation in an effort to “make visible the humanitarian impact of which girls are victims, children and adolescents and their families due to other forms of violence, particularly forced internal displacement ”due to threats, homicide of relatives and fear of violence, wrote Alicia Ávila, Director Country of the foundation.

Thanks to Amndré Renteria and Hugo Sánchez for having given me a copy of both editions that, through stories and poetry, reflect the reality of Salvadoran families.