The Mesa Grande refugee camp was located 30 miles from the border of El Salvador in Honduras. Over 10,000 refugees lived there
in 1983, mainly children, women and elderly people from the rural provinces of Cabañas, Chalatenango, and Morazán in northern
El Salvador. They had fled into Honduras to escape Salvadoran Army counter-insurgency tactics that included the murder, torture
and rape of unarmed peasants and the destruction of entire villages through the burning of houses and crops. Their stories
are told through songs and poems which give testimony to their violent past, depict their present life in the refugee camp,
and express their strong will to survive and undaunted faith in the future. Firmly rooted in oral traditions, these songs
and poems represent the refugees' collective memory; they document the trauma they endured and insure that the past will not
be forgotten. The material was recorded in Mesa Grande by the members of the Latin American folk music group Sabiá (Cindy
Harding, Libby Harding, Mari Riddle, and Ericka Verba), who also performed for the refugees during their visit to the camp.
Based in Los Angeles, the band was committed to promoting cross-cultural understanding and human rights through song. Founded
in 1976 and disbanded in 1989, Sabiá was active in the U.S. solidarity movement with Central America, toured extensively throughout
the United States and Canada, and recorded three albums.
The collection contains approximately ten hours of songs and poems by
Salvadorean refugees, recorded in August, 1983, in the UN refugee camp of
Mesa Grande, Honduras, by members of the music group Sabiá. The audio
recordings are accompanied by text files containing hand-written field notes for
all of the tapes, loose sheets of song lyrics, the published book and
accompanying audio cassette Escuchen Nuestras Voces/Hear our Voices
(Sabiá, 1984) based on the material, and miscellaneous related items. The
collection also contains approximately forty minutes of songs and poems of the
refugees that was recorded and sent to Sabiá sometime after their visit to Mesa
Salvadorian Refugees Audio Cassettes Collection is the physical
property of California State University, Los Angeles, John F. Kennedy Memorial
Library, Special Collections and Archives.