War in Central America

Relationship: Im/migrant
Taking the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony
Taking the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony

In El Salvador, the US supported a conservative, authoritarian government that was known for “death squads,” secret armed groups that used fear, disappearances and violence to repress opposition. David Ayala-Zamora was a prominent union organizer who, after being arrested and tortured, had little choice but to come to the US.  “In 1989, the police arrest me, and they disappear me for 15 days and they torture me during that time... My mom was having surgery, and she was crying. And my grandma came to her and she said, ‘Do you remember what David said? David said that we shouldn’t cry. David said that we should fight.’ That’s so beautiful…  When I got out [of jail], I was really sick mentally… So then I decided to come to the United States… At that time there was the border, but there is nothing there. You can just walk in… It’s incredible to see, just huge amounts of people walking towards the United States.  My plan was to stay for some time, then go back. But things were not good down there in El Salvador in terms of my security. The death squads were still looking for me, and there were strange people asking for me in different places… So that was the most painful decision of my life, to decide to stay in the United States.” – David Ayala-Zamora 

Place(s): Seattle; El Salvador
Year: 1989

– Voices of the Immigration Station, Wing Luke Museum

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant