An often overlooked footnote to the first Bush Administration is the legacy of right-wing government in the tiny Central American country of El Salvador. That government has been steadfastly loyal to the second Bush Administration’s war in Iraq. It’s troops are the only Latin American coalition partners with the United States in Iraq today, still keeping 380 troops there.
One soldier’s mother, Herminia Ramos, has had enough. Her son, Natividad Mendez Ramos, 19, was the first Salvadoran Army death in Iraq.
While Ramos was given an insurance check for $7,000 and was declared a “national hero” by the country’s President in the wake of her son’s death, the insurance check hasn't lasted long and over time, the memories of her son have outweighed the politician's laurels. This week, Ramos took a letter to the President’s office and to the National Assembly, demanding that El Salvador remove its troops from Iraq.
In doing this, Ms. Ramos gives voice to the large majorities in polls who are against their country’s participation. The Los Angeles Times quotes Bishop Medardo Gomez of the Lutheran Church of El Salvador, who calls her a different sort of national hero. "She is a poor woman of few words whose pain led her to speak out. She's dared to stand up to the powerful, to our government and, above all, to the military."
In El Salvador, standing up to the military is not the same speaking out in the US. Ramos is a brave woman indeed.