Tulio Serrano
By Witness Collaborative
May 19, 2023
0:00 / 6:53
Tulio Serrano

Well. My name is Tulio Serrano. I am a veteran of the civil war in El Salvador. I am a political refugee here in the United States. As a veteran, I want to express my participation during the civil war and I want to say that, with this, I had great hopes during the tragedy of the armed conflict. One of the hopes was to achieve social change in our country, where there would be justice for all. But the other hope was one day to be able to have two, three children, which was granted to me. And I think it had to do with the fact that two of my brothers had been killed, as well as my sister. I had to take them out of conflict zone to protect them. And I think it was with the ambition and the mentality of recovering those who had been lost, those who had been killed.

We were innocent, we did not know what could happen after the peace accords, after the cease fire, after laying down the arms. We succeeded. The repression, the massacres, and the big military operations, that was a success for us, for the people. The hope of success was in the heart of the people, as well as in myself, because I have seen the blood flow as the water flows in the rivers, unmasured. I have seen, I saw every day a lot of blood in many places in the conflict zones and I no longer wanted to see that.

Another hope was a change in my health, more than anything, mentally. I have felt it, but it is not what I was expecting because these are very difficult situations, and this is for the entirety of one's life. These memories, which are deep in the minds of the survivors of the war, are for ever and ever.

The only thing that fills me with hope, was to be able to come out of the conflict unscathed and to manage to emigrate to the United States. That has helped me, but it has not been a complete cure. The psychosis is there, the traces are there, but people don't know what I am carrying inside of me. If there are emotions, if there is trauma, if there is psychosis, people don't know, only I know. And that leads you to be afraid, to be scared, to be anxious, to be hateful, to be courageous, to lose sleep. It limits the ability to learn.

After the peace accords, nobody, nobody, neither the government, nor those responsible for leading the conflict have been concerned about providing the support the veterans as well as the children of veterans needed so much. But after the peace agreements, nobody was interested in helping our population emotionally, mentally.

And what war teaches you is violence and, what you see is violence, and what you can do is violence. And I attribute it to the example of my parents, because although I was in the middle of the fire, of the bullets, where hatred was instilled in me, I was one of the protectors of the population, and those people had to be given a chance not to die, to leave the area. Because when the army entered the control zones, they did not forgive. If they found a child, that child was killed, was assasinated.

Now my conclusion after being a warrior, being in a war, and coming to a strange country, where the language is different, the system is different, I didn't know anybody, I bring all the limitations of the world. I don't speak English, I don't know how to use technology, where I didn't have the time to go to school because of my personal occupations, family, and personal work. But I feel blessed and thankful to God who enlightened me the best of the ways and I could dedicate my life and give my life for the poor, for the community, for my people, for the migrants in this country. In Oakland, California, as I have managed to establish many, many strong, great programs, directed to the community. Through them working for the youth, for the children, for the elderly, and for the community in general.

We are still fighting everyday. And not only is CRECE Oakland (Central American Refugee Committee, Oakland), I have also formed a foundation in El Salvador to help the most impoverished rural communities in El Salvador. So, I consider myself a man of peace. I feel satisfied with what I have done. When there is love, no matter how difficult the circumstances, we can do something for others.