Devastation in El Salvador

Working conditions in El Salvador and also in Central America is very hard and many innocent people got exploited and mistreated. This is a result of Capitalist development and how many companies and corporation that product cotton, mining, coffee and other types of agriculture exploit many people in Central America, and how many are forced to work under these harsh conditions for very cheap labor like how its portray in the novel “One Day of Life, by Argueta Malino”. This can lead to deforestation on the environment and how it also impact many people around the area and how it connects to labor work and exploitation of many individuals in El Salvador and Central America.

One Day of Life by Manlio Argueta

In the novel “One Day of Life by Argueta Malino”, display how El Salvador is having a civil war which is affecting everyone in the country and “Lupe” a traditional mother that is a strong catholic and a hard working women is portray as the main character and also the narrator of the novel to explain her thoughts and experiences that she faced during these hard and crucial times in El Salvador. The Novel can be compared to Capitalist development because on how these international companies and World Bank are providing the money to maintain this crisis that El Salvador is facing. Although, development in Central America and in El Salvador is a good thing for many high developed countries because it provides them with a sense of variety of choices to the consumer, but to have these varieties and choices many suffer the consequences of cheap labor and exploitation in many third world countries.

Destruction of the Forest

These corporation and World Bank invest millions and millions of dollars to give to Central America to help them build roads and bridges for transportation, but these very same roads and bridges become the transportation for beef, coffee, mining and other products to export to international market. This creates a sense of deforestation because when these big companies and corporation come to Central America and destroy the forest to build these roads. One of the cultivation these companies and corporation highly produce is cotton; to cultivate cotton requires many things. The first thing that is required to produce cotton is to have a huge open space to plant it. Also cultivating cotton takes a lot of the soil minerals, meaning that you can only cultivate cotton until the soil loses all its nutrients and minerals. After the soil loses all its nutrients and minerals it’s not capable of producing any other agriculture and it takes many years for the soil to regain all the nutrients and minerals to be able to plant again. This is where a sense of deforestation comes to mine and how many companies are destroying many forests to plant cotton, coffee and mining. With the destruction of the forest many of the wild life in Central America is slowly disappearing. Another issue that comes to mind when cultivating cotton is the poison they use to kill the pest. These poison to kill many pests to maintain the cotton safe, is damaging the land because of all the toxic chemicals they used to kill all the different types of pest. These chemicals they used on the cotton and other agriculture are very hazardous to the environment and the people around these plantations. Although these poisons are impacting many people in Central America it’s also destroying our beautiful environment. Using these strong chemicals can lead to many problems in the future.

Another productions that impacts a lot of people in El Salvador and in Central America is the destruction of mining. Mining in Central America affects varieties of individuals by polluting their rivers and lakes. These mining corporation impacts the people living around the mining areas. Many of the people living around these areas become very ill and develop skin conditions that can lead to death. In the article “El Salvador Faces CAFTA Suit over Mining Project” the author talks about how many people are against these mining companies and corporation because they are being exploiting the environment and it cause, the destruction of the forest. The author states that “If gold mines elsewhere are any indication, the mine in El Salvador could contaminate existing water supplies. Gold mines use cyanide heap leaching to extract gold from the ore. The process trickles cyanide-laced water down through piled up ore, pulling out the mineral as it filters through the heap. Mines elsewhere have leaked mercury, arsenic, zinc and aluminum, along with cyanide, into the ground water. The town of San Sebastian in eastern El Salvador continues to suffer from hazardous materials produced by a nearby mine operated from 1950 to the 1981 by the Commerce Group Corporation, By Zach Dyer”. Meaning that this mining corporation is polluting many of El Salvador’s water sources which many people depend on. If these water sources become polluted it can affect many individuals in El Salvador and can lead to many diseases to spread and cause many Salvadorians to die.

Polluted River

Polluted Forest

These can be compared with the novel because many of these companies and corporations were affecting El Salvador and making them lack many important resources like food, water and money. These can be portraying in the novel when Lupe is saying that “she is very lucky that there is water well close to her house because many of the people didn’t have any water to survive pg45”. Another example Manlio Argueta used to portray the importance of water was when Lupe is talking to the military solders and tells them “Perhaps you would like a little drink of water?’’ they pretend not to hear me. It’s cool; you can even see the red jar sweating. Water, full of life. Fresh, cool water from the well. They don’t say a word. In cases such as this it’s best to commend oneself to God. I’ve almost swallowed the pinch of tobacco; I spit the black saliva. These people always bring bad luck. That’s why I’ve offered them water-to drive a little bad luck away. Beside, one shouldn’t refuse water to anyone” (Argueta pg83). Meaning that water was very important to the people in El Salvador because of all the poverty that was happening during the civil war, and it’s very impolite to refuse water when many people were dying and begging for a small glass of water.

These big companies and plantations used so many of resources like water, and polluted many of lakes and rivers that many people that lived in the area depend on. The people working in these companies and plantation were generally poor people and peasants. Many of these poor peasants and workers are mistreated and exploited. These types of people are mostly indigenous descents that were treated worst than animals. These types of working conditions were made into cheap because many of the individuals would work under extremely hard conditions and would make small amount of money. This also can be compared in the novel “One Day in Life” because the author gives us an understanding on how poverty played an important part in El Salvador and how Lupe had to work very hard to maintain her family. Another statement that Argueta portrays in the novel about working conditions and development of Capitalism was when Lupe is expressing her thoughts “From the plantation we got work but also misery. The plantations nearby, less than two and half miles away; we’ve lived off all our lives, it’s true. It is also true that the plantation has prospered thank to us. We’ve made it work. Before the road wasn’t even paved. It was dusty in the summer and muddy in the winter; not even mules could pass along it during the rainy season, around September. We used to be isolated. And let’s look at the plantation now. All the plantations in these parts are linked by paved roads. They drive their cars on them with no difficulty” (Argueta p52). This gives us an understanding on how many people worked in these plantations and gets mistreated, and how the development on Capitalism is playing a big part with these plantation and companies because they’re expanding their products to build more roads and plantations to make it easier to export their goods to international makes to make more profit.

Working Condition and Cheap Labor

Cheap Labor

In the novel Lupe talks about “How hands that move most are the hands of farm workers. Some of us barely have the know-how to make a pair of oxen pull a cart to buy or sell something in the town. The landowners sure pass by rapidly in their jeeps and limousines, so fast that they don’t even see the people traveling beside the highways. We have talked about all these things with Jose. And we don’t feel pain in our souls when we talk about our neighbors. We used to. We couldn’t even thing bad thoughts because we believed we would be condemning ourselves. For everything there was damnation. For everything there was hell. For everything there was fire as punishment. Our tongue was always tied by our fear sin”, (Agueta). This statement is the expression about how people were tired of living in fear and they felt they were living a life in hell with the murders and corruption during the civil war. This also states the inhuman act workers faced by being exploited and how they were forced to work hard and fast under harsh conditions that were very injustice just to get paid misery of money.

Manlio Agueta

Overall “One Day of Life” by Manlio Argueta was a great novel that expresses the feelings and fears that many Salvadorians faced during this terrible civil war. Also it gives us a sense on how many families suffered during these hard times and how many died to fight for their rights and also fight for what they believed in. It’s also provides us on how Capitalist development greatly impacted El Salvador and other Central America countries by exploiting many peasant workers for cheap labor just to gain more profit for their production to export t international markets. Manlio Argueta is a great author that shows the struggles and terror this corrupt civil war in El Salvador was, and also how many people were being killed and mistreated. Manlio Argueta is very inspiring because of the entire struggles he had faced to inform people to make a change and stop all this violence that is happening in El Salvador and other countries.”One Day of Life” is every good novel that I would encourage many to read it because it such an inspiring novel.


-Cortez, Beatriz, and Mena Douglas. Carranza. Introduction to Central American Studies. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Pub., 2008. Print.
-Argueta, Manlio. One Day of Life. New York: Vintage, 1983. Print.
-El Salvador Faces CAFTA Suit Over Mine Project, Feb 6 2009 ByZach Dyer
-The Politics of Environment and Development, By Eduardo Silva
-Nickel for Your Life; Q’eqchi’ Communties Take on Mining Companies in Guatemala, Oct 25 2009 By Susan Fitzpatrick Behrens

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