A Little Bit About My “Shithole”

Nueva Concepcion, El Salvador. Photo by Saul Guardado on Unsplash

My entire family is from El Salvador, a tiny country in Central America. You might know it as the home of pupusas, pan con pollo, or more recently, a “shithole” per the President of the United States. So that’s nice.

El Salvador has, throughout its history, been a country where the majority of the population lives in poverty while a small few enjoy excessive wealth. There’s many reasons for this, the root of everything starting with Europeans colonizing this tiny country where the indigenous population was essentially no match for the incoming flux of, you know, assholes. The country went through a particularly extreme period of turmoil during the Salvadoran Civil War, which ended less than 30 years ago. You can read all about it here, but to summarize, it was fucked up. My parents know people who saw their families raped, killed, and starved to death, so they both scrambled to get out as soon as they could. My dad came over in the 80s and my mom in the 90s, and they were both teenagers when they left.

I don’t need to explain to you what it felt like for them to leave behind their families as teens in a gamble for survival. Thankfully they met each other here and fell in love, and during their years together they consistently sent money back home. They weren’t the only ones; about 18% of El Salvador’s GDP consists of Salvadorans in the US sending money back home. This fact hits harder when you realize that roughly 20% of Salvadorans in the U.S. live in poverty. So why send money back if they’re struggling? Why not say “whatever, screw the homeland” and go watch an LA Dodgers game and eat lots of hot dogs?

Because they love their “shithole” country, that’s why.

Trump is implying that the reason El Salvador and others like it are affected by mass poverty and violence is because of some glitch in our people’s humanity. He thinks Salvadoran children are born and maybe when they hit puberty they think “boy, would I love to go commit some crime right now”. He thinks we’re inherently shitty because where we’re from is shitty. The ironic part in all this is that he’s completely dismissing how the U.S.’s own shittiness impacted El Salvador. The U.S. loved the Salvadoran Civil War and invested heavily in it, and now the President of the U.S. is acting like Salvadorans and others are less than him because they didn’t grow up in New Fucking York.

His words and policies are disgusting and not fit for a world leader. I’m horrified and outraged, and it’s hard not to make this personal. I have close family members whose status is in limbo thanks to the Trump administration cutting TPS. Every day we see stories of families with small children being torn apart, and I don’t see how any human being can justify doing that. I swear to you that that six year old kid with the GoFundMe isn’t selling heroin. I highly doubt that that mother of three is a level ten gang member. And yet they’re taken away, and we feel knots in our stomachs, and Trump feels nothing because he sees us as subhuman, as alien creatures from a shitty land that he doesn’t care about.

But I’m here. And my friends are here. And their friends are here. And our kids are going to be here, and their kids. And we’re succeeding and thriving in this country because our parents taught us to work hard, to educate ourselves, and to love ourselves as an act of defiance. And Trump and his followers can’t get rid of that, or of us.

We’ll see who’s going to inherit this shithole.