Strategic Priorities

This section of the strategic plan will outline the five strategic priorities of the Sumpul Association for the next three years and will provide insight into the specific ways in which they will be achieved


Located in a low-resource setting and with a newly expanded mandate to represent massacre survivors from across the department of Chalatenango, the Sumpul Association requires funding to sustain its basic operations. With funding from private donors, foundations, and government grants, the Sumpul Association can facilitate communication and promote its activities, develop educational programs, and accompany survivors in their pursuit of justice and reparations. Most of the Sumpul Association’s members are subsistence farmers and many of them leave their daily activities and travel for over an hour to attend general assemblies. Even a modest amount of funding could provide transportation for dozens of members who wish to be engaged in the activities of the Sumpul Association.

The purchase of the land at Las Aradas, the site of the Sumpul River Massacre, was a major achievement for the Committee that preceded the Association. Through. a combination of local fundraising efforts (for example, selling pupusas in the square) and donations from international donors (particularly the Canadian NGO SalvAide), the deal was finalized in October 2016. The next stage – the development of the Sumpul River Massacre Memorial Park on the newly purchased site – will require more substantial fundraising efforts at the national and international level. The Sumpul Association is committed to raising funds through a variety of mechanisms, including private. donors, foundations, NGOs, and government grants and/or matching funds. In addition to fundraising for the memorial site, the Sumpul Association will work to strengthen it internal capacities through training to implement its first Strategic  Plan, manage effectively and honestly, and be accountable to the community. Due to geographical and time limitations of board members to expedite the proposed plan, the institution requires the hiring of two community facilitators who will coordinate and expedite the education, communication and justice processes, and will systematize information about commemorations, massacres and victims.

The purchase of the land at Las Aradas, the site of the Sumpul River Massacre, was a major achievement for the Committee that preceded the Association.

The purchase of the land at Las Aradas, the site of the Sumpul River Massacre, was a major achievement for the Committee that preceded the Association.

Goal Statement

The Sumpul Association will engage in variety of fundraising efforts to support basic operations, general assemblies, the advancement of its capacities, and the development of education and justice programs, and, in particular, the design and erection of the Sumpul River Massacre Memorial Park.


  • Ethically diversify our revenue generating partnerships to ensure financial stability.

  • Initiate a fundraising campaign that will support our basic activities and programs, as well as the construction of the Sumpul River Massacre Memorial Park.

  • Evaluate and understand our financial capacity.

  • Hire two process facilitators to expedite our actions.


In 1993, the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador published its final report, From Madness to Hope: The 12-Year War in El Salvador. The report emphasized the need to commemorate the victims of state-sponsored massacres through national memorials as a condition of reconciliation and reconstruction, but no government has yet complied. Members of the Sumpul Association and organizations such as CCR and CRIPDES have filled this void in Chalatenango through various activities such as the placement of a small plaque at the site of the Sumpul River Massacre in 1993, yearly pilgrimages and commemorations on the anniversary of the massacre, supporting smaller-scale regional massacre commemorations and church masses for victims, and document- ing local knowledge about the history of regional massacres. In its most recent research, the Sumpul Association has documented 58 community-identified sites of massacre and killings.

Along with this activities, the board members will continue to promote local historical memory, increase attendance at commemorations, create a central registry of victims and survivors, and involve the broader community – especially the youth– in the preservation of history about the war era.

Goal Statement

The Sumpul Association will promote and carry out massacre commemorations in Chalatenango, which may include religious acts for victims. It will preserve and protect massacre sites, create a central registry with names of massacre victims, and advocate for the recognition and documentation of additionalcommunity-identified massacre andkilling sites in Chalatenango.


  • Preserve the massacre sites through physical and legal protection. 

  • Engage in the commemoration of Chalatenango massacres victims. 

  • Identify and map all regional of massacres sites.

  • Create a community calendar with all the massacres, the names of the victims, and the dates of commemorations.


Education about the Salvadoran Civil War is at a critical stage. Survivors are aging and intergenerational education is essential to the process of healing and reconciliation. Schools have not yet adopted a common curriculum about the history of the war, and some teachers avoid the topic entirely. The Sumpul Association will advocate for the incorporation of the history of massacres in the formal school curriculum, and will also support many forms of popular education (commemorations, exhibitions, public events, theatrical re-enactments) and international learning. As a result of the workshops with the survivor community, we identified a need for educational workshops to train the members of the Sumpul Association in various areas, so the Sumpul Association will continue to facilitate educational workshops for survivors.


Goal Statement

The Sumpul Association will raise awareness of the wartime experiences of campesinos and campesinas in Chalatenango with an emphasis on intergenerational learning, popular education, and formal documentation. Future projects include community calendars with massacre commemoration dates, documentary films, survivor testimonies, the production of a book, photo archives and exhibitions, community theatre, and development workshops for the members of the Sumpul Association.


  • Sponsor popular educational programs and community activities focused on historical memory of the massacres and other gross violations of human rights.

  • Advocate for formal school curricula addressing the history of the war from the perspective of campesinos and campesinas.

  • Promote training workshops and psycho-social education for the community of survivors.


The Sumpul Association recognizes the importance of justice for massacre survivors in the post-conflict processes of truth-seeking, dignity for victims and survivors, reconciliation, and collective healing. With recent changes to the Amnesty Laws in El Salvador, survivors have a new opportunity to bring to justice both material perpetrators and intellectual authors of wartime massacres and killings. The Sumpul Association recognizes that the function/role of justice is to ensure that these kinds of atrocities do not happen again in El Salvador.

In 2010, the Sumpul River Massacre Victims Association and the Legal Tutelage of the Archbishop’s Office in San Salvador, now Human Rights Association Legal Tutelage Dra. María Julia Hernández began a collaborative relation. In 1992, Legal Tutelage initiated a legal process that included five massacre survivor claimants, but the process remained stagnant although it was never closed. The case is still open in the Court of First Instance in Chalatenango. Since 2011, new claimants and witnesses have been incorporated to the process, and new proceedings have been requested, particularly, a call to testify to senior military officials responsible for the massacre. The process has progressed slowly therefore the Sumpul Association will take actions of mobilization and pressure to the judicial body. During the meetings and assemblies with survivors, we also identified a place where remains of victims are buried. This information was incorporated to the process. The Public Prosecutor’s Office carried out an inspection, and the judge has received an exhumation request with the expert opinion of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, which will take place in the next two years. In the future, the Sumpul Association plans to document and initiate new legal actions against massacre perpetrators for other known cases. These perpetrators are still in the country, have public positions, and even live in communities close to the victims.


Goal Statement

The Sumpul Association will support the access of the survivors to justice, truth and reparations by supporting existing (or future) legal processes through mobilization and political pressure; by promoting the investigation and reflection on restorative justice, transitional justice and victim rights; by accompanying families in the legal process of exhumation of bodies; educating the community about their legal rights; by advocating for symbolic recognition and economic reparations for survivors by the state; and by promoting truth and reconciliation thus promoting reconciliation based on truth and justice.


  • Advocate for symbolic recognition and economic reparations for survivors by the state.

  • Accompany survivors in legal processes and take the necessary actions to press forward with these processes (such as site inspections by the authorities, exhumations, mobilizations to courts and the General Prosecutor’s Office of the country to press for expedite processes.)

  • Initiate other legal actions before the courts of justice provided that it is legally feasible and required by members of the Sumpul Association.

  • Develop training and education workshops on legal issues and victim rights, as well as spaces of reflection about restorative and transitional justice for survivors.

Building Memorials

The design and construction of the Sumpul River Massacre Memorial Park is the largest-scale project undertaken by the Sumpul Association over the next three years. The Sumpul Association’s first goal – purchasing the land where the government army massacred 600 campesinos and campesinas on 14 May 1980 – was realized in the fall of 2016. Over the next eighteen months, the Sumpul Association worked closely with scholars from Western University (Canada), the architects from Belgium, CCR, CRIPDES and SalvAide, to make multiple visits to the massacre site and implement design consultation workshops with the survivor community. Unlike many memorials to important historical events, which are designed through a top-down process in a highly-politicized national context, the Sumpul Association is committed to realizing the ideas and suggestions of the survivors themselves.

Currently, visiting the site requires a two- hour hike through rough terrain. For aging survivors who can no longer make the journey for annual commemorations, accessibility is an urgent and important next step. As design consultations continue in 2018, the community will continue to develop their ideas for a memorial park that includes a monument to the victims, a building or shelter for commemoration activities, 600 trees planted to commemorate the victims and murals. The construction of the memorial will require intense and targeted fundraising efforts over the next year. Eventually, the Sumpul River Massacre memorial park will become part of an historical memory route that connects multiple municipalities and various massacre and killings sites across Chalatenango.


Goal Statement 

Over the next three years, the Sumpul Association will focus on the design and construction of the Sumpul River Massacre Memorial Park. To this end, it will establish paths to the site, will train local guides, and promote historical memory visits. We will also collaborate with the planning for a historical memory route that connects massacre sites, murals, chapels, and museums across Chalatenango. 


  • To execute an annual fundraising campaign to erect the Sumpul River Massacre Memorial Park.

  • Continue to work in partnership with national and international ally organizations in a participatory design process for the memorial.

  • Collaborate with the mayor’s offices and other appointed authorities in the planification of a historical memory route across Chalatenango.

  • Initiate a dialogue with MARN to declare the Sumpul River basin and Las Aradas a protected natural area.