I breed. Caregivers in the first person: motherhood as courage.

Ana Argelia Marcelly García, 72-year-old woman, teacher, cultural manager, mother, grandmother. This is her first-person testimony of her, in which she tells how she also became the guardian of the memory of her daughter, the poet Leyla Quintana, “Amada Libertad”.

I breed. Caregivers in the first person: motherhood as courage.

Ana Argelia Marcelly García, 72-year-old woman, teacher, cultural manager, mother, grandmother. This is her first-person testimony of her, in which she tells how she also became the guardian of the memory of her daughter, the poet Leyla Quintana, “Amada Libertad”.

by | Nov 28, 2022 | 0 comments

by | Nov 28, 2022 | 0 comments

By: Lauri Cristina García Dueñas

The Savior

My eldest daughter is called Guadalupe (Lupita) Quintana. She was born in the year of 1968, on April 6. My second daughter is called Leyla Quintana and she was born on April 2, 1970. Her father was my first love. I say, because it is not possible that she married him without being in love, although later…

With Lupita, my first pregnancy was divine, it was one thing… their father gave me all the cravings I wanted, a good man and took me to places, to the beach, to everything. With my second daughter, the man didn’t even get to sleep anymore.

You know that they say that in society cases are repeated. If your mom had a problem, you repeat it. I repeated it because, when Lupita was six years old, I couldn’t stand dad’s bolo (drunk). La Leyla, my second daughter was four years old.

Lupita was the eldest. Then, my mom came one day and she told me “I can’t stand to see you suffer anymore.” My mom took me to her house. I grabbed my two daughters. And the man, the father of my daughters, sitting with a friend of his, didn’t even say anything. My daughters’ father doesn’t love us, he never loved us, I thought. I went to my mother’s, but I only lasted a month.

Social commitment

What led me to organize? The very fact that we always needed food in the Zacamil neighborhood and, in (the teachers’ union) ANDES 21 de Junio ​​they gave you a little bag of groceries. In other words, the economic part got me a little into the organization, but also something into my conscience.

I didn’t know it at the time, because I was a woman of about 35 years of age and she only noticed superficial things. But I started organizing, training and reached a very conscious level. And my daughters, I also made them aware.

Because if Leyla became organized and, later, a combatant, it was because I made her conscious. When I joined the guild, she worked as a teacher every morning in San Jacinto and she dedicated the afternoons to the guild. We did not charge.

She was one of the bravest. She walked with my horn, the megaphone. She screamed and screamed and screamed. They say those videos were sent out of the country. I never found out.

My daughters were in college. Leyla starting journalism and Lupita was in her second year of engineering. Poor Lupita was more to study than to be fighting and, therefore, she is now studying her doctorate in Law.

87, 88 and 89 were hard years for a mother, because when they joined the guerrillas I lost sight of them and never saw them again. There were no cell phones.

When they got lost in the offensive I said, oh, they killed me, because I knew what they were up to. I think that the 1989 offensive was not organized well, that event was so strong.

Leila’s death

Time passed and the solar eclipse of July 11, 1991 arrived, we were scared, but I went to the office, what am I going to stay here doing at home during the day, I said to myself, and, in the afternoon, we saw with other companions that a butterfly landed. “Oh no!” I told them, “black butterflies are bad omens”.

It was Thursday, that day they had killed her and they told me two days later. They say that after the death of a daughter one is left as crazy and I was as crazy, totally abandoned.

In the first place, I couldn’t bury her immediately. Secondly, I couldn’t tell my eldest daughter to come and comfort me because she was going to be worse off and they were going to arrest us both. And third, I couldn’t tell my family.

your poet

As a teacher, I was Leyla’s teacher, both of them. Second grade. Third degree. I asked for the grades where they were, where they had to study to follow the pencil, the track.

When I gave Lupita homework and she didn’t do it, she would say “give me 10”, even though she didn’t have it.

On the other hand, Leyla didn’t do it and, as a mother, I don’t know if it happens to you, you grab the notebooks and see if they draw, if they do things. And Leyla, on the last page, made a little poem about her at the age of ten. She was there at school and I didn’t realize it. But once I began to see her notebooks and this girl making little poems about love, illusions, platonic.

Then he entered the Inmaculada school and perhaps there his interest was more. She rooted. And not only with writing poems, but with readings. He had used them, like me, to read since they were little. I am a good reader.

Later, already incorporated into the guerrilla, he left for Nicaragua. And, then, there she had already met the (poet) Otoniel Guevara and the hairy one induced her further in the question of poetry and gave her other writers to read.

I found out that he was reading César Vallejo, Gioconda Belli and Alejandra Pizarnik. But I said, maybe it’s something temporary, but it was something serious for her because, the time I went to the volcano (where the guerrilla camp was) to see her in 1990, she gave me a lot of sausages, pieces of paper, so I I hid them very well because I said, it is dangerous for them to be found.

After his death, we created a book of more than 200 poems with ASTAC (Salvadoran Association of Art and Culture Workers) and with Lupita, because they didn’t want to get involved, but when they saw that the material was practically ready, that’s when Álvaro Sermeño told me “I’m going to do the cover for you”. And Óscar Vázquez and the other…

I have that thing that I already forget things, but “Larga trenza de amor” collects all her little poems, the sausages, the notebooks. All of that got in there and many of her were lost in her backpack when they killed her and took the backpack from there.

When they took me to see the place where she was buried, it was a common grave. There, in the volcano. Then they told me “right now it is not conducive for you to dig it up”. Just a year later, they gave it to me.

A year after her death, I managed to identify the dead Leyla. That’s why I say, as a mother, I have been brave. Because who knows how I did, she was also Lupita with me and she identified her. When I saw, I fainted. And the judge told me: “Ma’am, she’s already been there. We already saw that it was so. Take her where you are going to bring her flowers”.

Later, the commander (guerrilla) who was there at the time told me, “Ma’am, take this money so that you can buy a niche wherever you want. Do you want in Santa Tecla? “I don’t know. I don’t know. I do not know yet”. And I went to Quezaltepeque. I do not know why.

And to cry. And so I bought the three niches. And I put the two companions and her there. Rigoberto López, América… we missed Amílcar Colocho.

The legacy, the memory

“It is not possible,” I said, “for all this to be thrown away, the legacy of its truth.” And then Lupita helped me a lot. When I raised the issue of the book with the publishing company Sombrero Azul, they first said no, because Leyla was an ex-combatant and the poems were still very dangerous, there was a lot of reserve.

I went around making noise about books in schools, in colleges. Oh, the first years that was very difficult because I was alone. Then they sent me to Italy. The Italians took me in ’97, three years after the publication of the book. And well, since Leyla had to make that trip to present her book. “I, in her name, will have to go,” I said to myself. It was not a pleasure trip, it was an obligation of commitment.

Perhaps my weaknesses and weaknesses have given me the courage to continue her work, because she didn’t even know that a single book of her own was going to be published and eleven were published, apart from the anthologies. Sometimes nobody wants to buy the book, you have to give it away. My God! It is sad to see that the money is not obtained. She couldn’t get financing. No, I had to go searching.

But I have had support: Alberto López Serrano, Rafael Lara Martínez. Many people have supported me.

“Although there is no justice, we have to persevere as mothers”

What can you say to the mothers who are looking for their daughters and sons anywhere in the world right now? To the mothers who are fighting to have their daughters released from prison, to the mothers who, like you, continue to fight for their disappeared daughters, for their memory.

I think that human beings have a goal in life. That, even if there is no justice, we have to persevere as mothers, keep fighting, because if a child has been taken from us, we have to keep fighting, even if they have already killed him, we have to do it until the last moment we have of life.

We, as human beings, have to fight. I feel powerless when I hear the news in the prisons and all this is happening and women are not only killed, they are tortured, they are raped.

And the grandmothers…

The grandmothers fighting for the daily bread of those hungry children. Mom, I’m hungry, they tell her. And the girl, prey. Maybe they already killed her and hope doesn’t lose her. I give them that message, that they continue to persevere, that they fight until they have the last breath of life, that they fight for their children.

What is the difference between the Algerian mother and the Algerian grandmother?

It will be hard for me to say because there is no difference. I am a mother, a grandmother, I know, but the eldest grandson I have I took completely as a son. They call me Algeria. They have never called me grandmother, because I am flirtatious. I like being called Algeria, not grandmother. That is the answer.

What do you like most about your daughter’s work?

His town. The love of the mother. The love of the people. This, God, is what motivates me to continue, because many times I have wanted to throw in the towel.