For Roberto Saravia, 25, his earliest memories are of marches, protests and “big old red flags.”
The red flags stand for El Salvador’s current president’s political party, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN.
Both of Saravia’s parents, who met in the United States, have been staunch supporters of the party. Saravia’s mother came here in the 1970’s. She joined a solidarity group, Central American Resource Center, or CARECEN, that her sister was a part of.
His father was still in El Salvador during the civil war. Saravia’s grandparents were both part of the teacher’s union, and at the time, anyone against the government would likely be tortured and killed, and the teacher’s union was on that list.
Saravia said that for his father, “the straw that broke the camel’s back” was when he heard that Archbishop Oscar Romero was killed. Romero’s message had been one of peace, never for or against either side. Saravia’s father would listen to the news on the radio while he showered. When the assassination was announced, he made the decision to leave.
“He went to the mountains. He left behind his life as a student. He was a guerilla fighter for about two years until he was shot in the neck.” Saravia’s uncle convinced his dad not go back. He said that if he did, he wouldn’t come back out.
“It was funny,” said Saravia. “The first day I came to CSUN, my father came with me. We met up with Professor Carranza.”
Dr. Douglas Carranza is the academic advisor for the Central American Studies program at CSUN, the only such program in the nation. Saravia’s father knew Carranza through CARACEN.
“I took a class and fell in love with it. I knew it was what I wanted to do.” Saravia switched Central American Studies from a minor to his major.
Saravia is currently the co-chair of CAUSA, the Central American United Student Association, an on-campus group that discusses political on-goings in Central America and offers community assistance to a large Central American population in Los Angeles.
“It’s been a while,” said Saravia of his five or six years with CAUSA. This is his final semester at CSUN. He is graduating in May.
As to why he joined the group, Saravia says their “agendas match. I like the fact that I’m surrounded by people like me.”
Saravia is a part of AISA, the American Indian Student Association and has worked on coordinating several CAUSA projects with MEChA. One such project is the annual May Day Music Festival.
Saravia’s band, The Drop Dead Sound, performed at the May Day concert two years ago. Saravia and his brother, Carlos, started the band several years ago.
The genre of music is what Saravia calls a little bit of everything. Mostly rock, they’re influenced by a lot of different genres like heavy metal, classic rock, and Spanish rock. “We try to incorporate all of those styles,” said Saravia.
They have tried to create more of a dance rhythm into their music by integrating sounds like merengue, but it hasn’t quite worked, he said.