Santa Clara University

Santa Clara Magazine

No right to despair

On my first trip to El Salvador, I and a group of faculty from Santa Clara met with Victoria de Avilés, a supreme court judge and former human rights ombudsperson. For years she lived under constant death threats. When asked about the present situation in El Salvador and the ongoing social inequities, she said, “No tenemos derecho a la desesperanza.” We don’t have the right to despair. Work for justice and solidarity is as wide and boundless as the world itself and it is intimately connected to the mystery of being in this world. —JV


El Salvador


Dear brothers and sisters,
we have to be like a mountain.
The hills are still and green,
the clouds kiss them softly,
the birds are coming back again
after the long winter.

The nails are leaving the cross,
the hands of people without hope.
The spirit is beginning to rise,
the scars are healing.
“No tenemos derecho a la desesperanza,”
Victoria said.

Dear brothers and sisters,
we’ll be like a mountain.
We’ll join hands,
accept the truth and the memories,
and we’ll not die.

—Juan Velasco