Posted on April 23, 2012

Salvadorans Hope Dedication of Square Spurs More Recognition

Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2012

Under cloudless skies and a radiant sun, a couple of hundred Salvadorans dressed in white gathered early Saturday to name an intersection near downtown Los Angeles in honor of Msgr. Oscar A. Romero, a Catholic archbishop who was slain in 1980 during El Salvador’s civil war and whom many consider a martyr.

{snip} Speakers recounted Romero’s struggle on behalf of the poor and his assassination. His words — “If they kill me, I will be reborn in the Salvadoran people” — were invoked throughout the morning.

But Saturday’s ceremony and the naming of the square where Pico Boulevard and Vermont Avenue meet has more to do with Salvadorans’ place in Los Angeles than anything that happened in their home country years ago.

“Most ethnic groups have their representations — Chinatown, Little Armenia, Little Tokyo,” said Raul Contreras, a truck driver. “We don’t.”

As one of the largest Latino groups in the county, “we deserve a spot to show our culture and what we’re capable of,” Oscar Dominguez, a financial advisor who organized the naming of the square, told the crowd.

Dominguez and others hope the square will lead to the naming of an El Salvador Community Corridor along Vermont from 11th Street to Adams Boulevard, home to many Salvadoran-owned businesses. They hope such a corridor will, in turn, awaken Salvadorans to the need for more civic engagement in an area that has largely been dominated by the economically powerful Korean community.

The move to name the intersection after Romero began two years ago, when Salvadoran leaders learned that Korean activists wanted to designate an “official” Koreatown boundary that included areas Central Americans, especially Salvadorans, considered theirs: south to Pico Boulevard and east to Hoover Street.


The official Koreatown boundaries were shrunk to encompass about half of what was initially proposed: Olympic Boulevard to the south, 3rd Street to the north, Vermont to the east and Western Avenue to the west.