Mini-Bios for Morning Announcements
Here are short bios of various Central American leaders. Written for elementary school and up, they can be used during morning announcements.
Maria Serrano was a young mother from a village in El Salvador. She organized her fellow campesinos (farmers) to ask for land and rights from their government — which had not been given to them for centuries (that’s more than 100 years!) Campesinos wanted to earn a decent living for their work. She fought for her community so they could have a voice in government. Two women from the United States followed her during the El Salvadoran war and filmed a movie documentary about her called Maria’s Story. After El Salvador’s peace agreement, she became a legislator in the National Assembly and just finished serving her country as Minister of the Interior (phew, that’s a hard job).
Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores
Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores was a midwife and activist in Honduras. She became mayor of her town and governor of her state at a time when few women held these roles in government. In 1993, she became a student activist and co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), which defends the community and natural resources that would destroy the environment. COPINH led a successful fight to block the building of a dam on a sacred river.
Claribel Alegria was a poet, writer, and translator who was born in Nicaragua, but grew up in Santa Ana, El Salvador. In 1943, she moved to the United States and attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She did not return to El Salvador because after she found out about the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero Bishop, she spoke out against the military’s violence and feared for her life. After the civil war in Nicaragua ended, she returned to the country. She won the Casa de las Americas Prize in Havana, Cuba, in 1978. She wrote over 40 books, poetry, and testimonies including Luisa in Realityland, Ashes of Izalco, and I Survive, which won the Casa de las Américas prize for poetry. She was one of Central America’s most celebrated writers.
Violeta Barrios de Chamorro
Violeta Barrios de Chamorro was the first elected woman head of state in the Americas and served as President of Nicaragua from 1990-1996. She was a businesswoman, news publisher, and she ran for president. During her term in office, she tried to take the country from war to peace and helped to end the Contra War.
Carlos Mejia Godoy
Carlos Mejia Godoy is a Nicaraguan folk musician, guitarist, and songwriter. He believes that music can be a force for good; it can inspire people and give them hope in their struggles. During the 1970s, he and his brother Luis Enrique joined with other Central American musicians to write and perform songs that inspired activists in their fight against dictators. His best-known work is the music for the Misa Campesina, a folk mass he wrote for people in Nicaragua to uplift them.
Archbishop Oscar Romero Bishop
Archbishop Oscar Romero was a Catholic priest in El Salvador. He saw how rich people worked with the government, the military, and even the church to gain power, while other people in El Salvador did not have many rights. He spoke out against the injustices because it was not fair. He used his Sunday sermons, which were shown across the country, to ask the government to not use violence towards people who were trying to be peaceful when fighting for the rights they should have. Many world leaders recognized his efforts to seek peace and nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. His actions also scared U.S. backed Salvadoran leaders and their powerful allies and he was killed (assassinated).
Rigoberta Menchú Tum
Rigoberta Menchú Tum was born and raised in a K’iche’ Mayan peasant family in Guatemala. Growing up, she had little money and spent long hours picking coffee beans, a job that did not pay her and her family well. Because of this, she became active in social justice and women’s rights movements with her church and fought for better pay, better work, and respect for all humans. She was very brave and helped people across Guatemala fight for their rights. She had to leave the country for her safety. During this time, she told her story to a researcher and they wrote a book called I Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala. Menchú won the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize.