For Two Remote Salvadorian Villages, the Iraq War Hits Close to Home

| July 2005

AHUACHAPAN province, El Salvador -- To the naked eye, Tacuba and Guaymango resemble any other isolated, poor Central American mountain villages defined by timelessness and obscurity. Mangy dogs lounge lazily near rutted roads stirring only when a rare vehicle rumbles by, and only the roosters who crow at daybreak seem eager for another day of poverty and struggle to begin. The affairs of the outside world would appear to have little bearing here.

Yet this remote outpost near the Guatemalan border has not been isolated from George W. Bush's war on terrorism. As part of El Salvadorian president Antonio Saca's decision to join the United States-led "coalition of the willing," he has sent a force of 380 soldiers to fight in Iraq. Nearly 10 percent of them hail from the rural towns of Tacuba and Guaymango in the Ahuachapan province -- three hours by travel in rickety "chicken busses" west of the capital, San Salvador, and almost impossible to locate on the map without a microscope.