Destiny's Children: A Legacy of War and Gangs

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Edgar’s story, part 4

At age eighteen Edgar, known to his friends as “Shy Boy,” lives in fear of death. “There are lots of people here who want to kill me. I don’t mean homeboys. I mean the really bad people from the organized crime rings and other people who just hate us.”

War memories from his early childhood also continue to haunt him.

In 1982 Edgar witnessed the Salvadoran army massacre the men from his village in this soccer field. His father was thought to be “disappeared” and his uncles were murdered. “We couldn’t bury them,” Edgar remembers. “If we tried the soldiers would say we were communists and kill us too. So dogs came and soon there were only bones.”

“I was afraid someone would kill me,” Edgar says. “So I left the city and went to my grandfather’s for a month. Now my girlfriend won’t talk to me.”

A letter from his mom in Los Angeles awaits him at his grandparents’ house. “My dear Edgar,” she writes, “All I want is for you to find peace and happiness. Why don’t you stay with my father? He is old and could use your help.” Edgar looks up with tear-filled eyes.

Edgar often visits his brother’s grave in El Salvador. Edgar’s mother says her son was “making out” with his girlfriend in a parked car on an LA street when her homeboys shot at them both. The girl’s gang had a bitter rivalry with her son’s gang. His girlfriend survived serious wounds, but Jose died instantly.

Edgar thinks of staying to help his grandfather, but he grows restless easily. The backbreaking work the peasants do is too hard for his grandfather, but he misses the action of the city. When he hears the rumors that his girlfriend is going with another homeboy, he returns to the gang.

“I feel angry at her, but I love her,” Edgar says. “Now I don’t care about anything.”

Some of Edgar’s friends die in gang fights; a death squad known as “The Black Shadow” murders others. They are immortalized in graffiti that says: For the homeboys…they live in our memory.”

Now Edgar lives at the gang house and spends his days doing drugs.