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Testimony: The Maria Guardado Story

Committed community psychologists working for social justice need to provide authentic opportunities that truly bring practitioners and activists from forgotten cultures to sit at the banquet table of our dominant meta-narratives, creating a new inclusive narrative.  This film is a plea for inclusion.  In this revolutionary performance of demand, research, art, and contestation,  testimonio is legitimized as an indigenous research and action methodology for social transformation, as the emergency narrative that demands public space for solidarity and political action.  Fleeing the civil war in her native El Salvador, Maria Guardado received political asylum by the United States in 1983. Because of her political activism, she had been kidnapped and tortured by Salvadoran death squads.  Maria transformed her personal horror and became a soul-moving poet, and a political activist in Los Angeles. In poetic voice against the silence, Maria Guardado shares her life by means of art and visual documentation, and invites community psychologists to revisit and to redefine their most intrinsic values of social and political transformation.

This is the first of a series of 3 videos. All three videos can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/testimonioguardado


Los Angeles, CA June 26, 2011. (translated by Karen Barragan, MSW)

Dear organizers of the psychology conference in the city of Chicago in June of this year.

I, Maria Guardado, humbly allow myself to greet you. At the same time give you thanks for accepting the proposal of my friend Nuria Ciofalo for giving me the great honor to participate in your conference with my documentary about my case of torture survival in 1980, by the death squads in El Salvador trained in the school of the Americas situated in Georgia, United States of America.

With this presentation, I realize a dream that I thought impossible. To go to the hearts of a community that does humanly powerful work to alleviate the terrible trauma of the different cases of torture.

The video shows the major suffering of the modern slaves in our colonies. We are under the terror of pro-imperialist governments when we fight for social change that is fair. We are all human beings without exception to color or race. Therefore, we are thousands and thousands the tortured in imperial clandestine prisons in the world and a few of us survive. Some are given the courage by God to denounce it all.

Therefore, I hope that this will be a beautiful opportunity for your community to do more than give therapy. Demand a “Stop Now” to the US government and put an end to this major flagellation to humanity. Form a new world of peace and social justice for future generations. Without the painful immigration dying a terrible death on the journey and at the border.

In hope that my petition may be accepted, in the name of God and of those that do not have the fortune to survive the torture, I give thanks to the community of psychologists.

Maria Guardado


Maria Guardado, Randy Vasquez, & Nuria Ciofalo

Authors: Maria Guardado, Poet and Community Activist
Randy Vasquez, Filmmaker, Writer, Director, and Producer

Submitter: Dr Nuria Ciofalo is a professor at Pacifica University.

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palabras clave: Maria Guardado, scra biennial conference, community psychology practice, gjcpp