El Salvador and the communities of the Bajo Lempa
El Salvador is a country of 6 million people, with an area about the size of Wales. Since the conquest by the Spanish in the early 1600s, it has experienced a turbulent history, the chief feature of which has been the struggle of campesino and indigenous peoples to gain access to land ownership. From 1980 to 1992 a brutal civil war resulted in the loss of 75,000 lives. While some gains were made, the issue of land ownership was not fully resolved, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), has resulted in further impoverishment of an already poor people. This in turn has provoked mass emigration of young Salvadoreans to the US. The Bajo Lempa communities are largely inhabited by ex-refugees, who returned after the civil war to occupy land previously owned by wealthy landowners. These communities are now developing alternative, co-operative, models of governmance and work, despite the neo-liberal policies adopted by the Salvadorean Government. For more information and updates on El Salvador look on www.cispes.org, the website of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.
In April 2005, Aidan Jolly went with Katherine Rogers of Music For Hope to visit the communities of the Bajo Lempa. While there, several days were spent recording local bands performing live, mostly using the basic equipment available locally. Highlights of these recordings are now available on a 14 track CD called 'Radio Lempa'. Some of the bands are featured below. To order a CD, click here
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Proyección Activa is the Bajo Lempa's longest established band. Set up in 1993 before Music for Hope had begun, they have a proud history of supporting the development of other musicians through teaching and lending their resources. The band members are accomplished musicians in their own right playing a range of instruments, composing and teaching. 'Radio Lempa' features the band's original compostions and arrangements on a range of themes including love and the ill treatment of children. They are based in the community of Octavio Ortiz, La Canoa
play "Amame" (excerpt) (1.4Mb)
The band started in 1999 as a collective of Music for Hope students from the community of Zamoran. At a crossroad junction in the centre of the Bajo Lempa, Zamoran is a hub of activity and exchange and this is reflected in the band’s musical outlook, which combines elements of cumbia, rock and other influences. Both songs featured on 'Radio Lempa' are original Cluny compositions.
play "Eres Como El Aire" (excerpt) (1.3Mb)
In Aztec mythology, Tlaloc was the god of rain, so the band’s name reflects both its Andino musical roots and the evolution of the band from its predecessor, Lluvia de Esperanza or Rain of Hope. 'Radio Lempa' features material of both Andean and Salvadorean traditional origin. The Band are from the community of Nueva Esperanza.
play "Sal Y Agua" (excerpt) (1.3Mb)
find out more about Tlaloc on www.tlaloc.ar.tc (nb - spanish language)
colour photos by Linda Boyles
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Music For Hope began in 1996, when Katherine Rogers met and worked with the band Lluvia De Esperanza (Rain Of Hope) from Nueva Esperanza. This meeting inspired the community music project Music For Hope. Since then Katherine has worked to develop music making for Bajo Lempa young people through the provision of funding for instruments and teaching support, peer education programmes, and a UK tour for one of the bands. For more information about Music For Hope, contact MFH or visit www.musicforhope.org.uk.
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