the possible dream

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  • The Possible Dream

    CONTENIDO

  • The Possible Dream

    PROLOGUE

    INTRODUCTION

    CHAPTER ONEGARROTILLO AND OTHER WORLDS

    CHAPTER TWOTHE DEATH THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

    CHAPTER THREEWAVES OF MIGRATION

    CHAPTER FOURA BRAVE KID

    CHAPTER FIVE MY EARLY TRAVELS

    CHAPTER SIXA NEW STAGE IN SAN SALVADOR

    CHAPTER SEVENBLOOD ON THE LANDSCAPE

    CHAPTER EIGHT CRAZY LOVE

    CHAPTER NINEAN ADVENTURE INTO THE UNKNOWNCHAPTER TENILL NEVER BE BROKEN

    CHAPTER ELEVENI RETURN TO THE LAND OF OPPORTUNITIES

  • The Possible Dream

    CHAPTER TWELVE NOW THE WORLD IS MINE

    CHAPTER THIRTEENKATHY, MY WIFE, PARTNER, AND FRIEND

    CHAPTER FOURTEENMY FIRST BUSINESS IS BORN

    CHAPTER FIFTEENTHE AMERICAN DREAM: I WAS RICH!

    CHAPTER SIXTEENTHE GODFATHER OF CHALATENANGO

    CHAPTER SEVENTEENA DIRTY CONSPIRACY

    CHAPTER EIGHTEENDOWN BUT NOT OUT

    CHAPTER NINETEENA GIFT FROM GOD

    EPILOGUE

    GLOSSARY

  • The Possible Dream

    6

    AUTHORS NOTE

    Due to the delicate nature of some of the events narrated in this book, the names of several people have been changed.

  • The Possible Dream

    PROLOGUE

  • 8The Possible Dream

    I first met Jos Ramn Barahona almost a decade ago. At that time he was already the undisputed leader of the Salvadoran community in Washington, D.C. Over time Ive gotten to know him better, not only as a businessman, but also as a family man and a human being, who at age sixty is still full of projects and dreams. Ive been able to share countless enriching experiences with him and have discussed his ideas about the economic and social development of our beloved El Salvador in great detail. I take this chance to acknowledge how much Ive learned from his philosophy of life, his values, and his principles.

    My first real personal contact with Jos was at a distinctly intimate and family occasion in early autumn 1997, when along with Kathy, his wife, and their children Alicia and David; he had a housewarming party at his new home in Great Falls, Virginia. My first impression was that his mentality, his way of life, and even his way of expressing himself, made him seem more American than Salvadoran. I thought that while he probably still felt close to El Salvador, he was disconnected from the present-day economic, social and political life of our country.

    When you read this book youll realize that my first impression was completely mistaken. No doubt the distance and his almost thirty-year absence from his beloved land made him appear removed from our country. What I didnt know then was that he keeps himself entirely abreast of everything that happens in El Salvador, from which he never lost contact. Furthermore, in the past few years I believe that we have recovered him permanently. Day by day, Jos is

  • 9The Possible Dream

    more and more one of us. A Salvadoran before all... and proud of being Salvadoran.

    Today the Chief, as his admirers affectionately call him, is one of my best friends. Writing this prologue to the story of his life, in a book that means so much to him and that Im sure will change our vision of the American Dream, is a true privilege.

    What I love about this book is its purity, honesty, and sincerity. Jos tells it all. This isnt one of those books written to polish someones image and do public relations. Although his story has all the words, images, achievements and people that have combined to form a life of triumphs, this biography is not free of its share of vicissitudes. This book, which was written with great conviction and absolute transparency, tells his story just as we, his friends, knew it before this book was published.

    In the words of a great novelist, Jos writes about what he has lived and lives what he has written. We must be grateful to him for his bravery in telling us about his dreams and how he realized them. Whether in Washington, D.C., San Salvador, San Jos, Costa Rica or in his beloved Chalatenango, Jos shows us in this book that he has known how to win all the battles immigrants face. He is an example and role model for our communities in the United States, their leaders and their organizations.

    Joss story also gives hope to all the young people of El Salvador. In his mind Jos delineates that success is attained by hard work, honesty and discipline; by a willingness to sacrifice ones self to the fullest, to achieve ones desires, dreams and aspirations.

  • 10

    The Possible Dream

    Finally that success is realized through preparation and education. His story proves that fate wont stand in the way of those who have these pre-requisites.

    A short time ago I had the chance to pause and reflect on his life while looking at the awards, medals, citations, honors, photographs and paintings on display in his brand-new, elegantly appointed office in Herndon, Virginia.

    I was struck by two things: the Medal of Freedom awarded by the United States Senate, an honor he shares with Margaret Thatcher, Charlton Heston and President Ronald Reagan, among others; and a recent newspaper article that calls him the Godfather of Chalatenango because of the social and humanitarian work hes done in the north of the country. At that moment I understood that, in addition to being a Salvadoran, Jos is a man with a universal dimension, who transcends borders, races, languages, religions, and economic and social conditions.

    He is a man of the countryside in his simple and natural manner, but is also a visionary and a global businessman.

    My hope is that this book will contribute to him, being recognized as such in the history of El Salvador, and that our future generations will benefit from his legacy.

    Ren Len

  • The Possible Dream

    INTRODUCTION

  • The Possible Dream

    12

    Carmen Hernndez de Barahona woke up at dawn with her first labor pains. It was August 12, 1944. She was thirty-five years old with dark skin, a robust complexion, and a frank expression. Her husband, Ral Barahona, barely two years older than his wife, dressed himself quickly, put on his hat, grabbed his machete, and took a pot of black coffee sweetened with cinnamon that his daughter, Luca, had prepared for him on the hearth to drink on the road. He headed uphill to search for Miss Juliana, the midwife. Rain had fallen all night and the star-filled sky seemed recently washed. The air was suffused with a strong aroma of lime grass, jasmine, and forget-me-nots.

    On the road, Ral prayed to God and Saint Teresa for all to turn out well. It was Carmens eighth childbirth, and this made him all the more concerned. But Miss Juliana lived nearby and would soon be with her. He quickly passed by the cobia tree in front of Don Justo Martnezs farm, where the flames of candles, already lit, could be seen. He followed the stone wall that surrounded Don Chepe Rodrguezs property, passed the ravine, and arrived at Miss Julianas farm. Ral was surprised to find the midwife already waiting for him with a towel on her head, worn in the style of a mantilla, with a bag containing the things she would need to attend the birth.

    -Good morning, Miss Juliana... how did you know it would be Carmens turn today?-Its not the first time, you know. Im an old hand at this and my heart told me last night that Carmen was going to give birth today. Lets go quick.-Yes, lets go-, Ral added to end the conversation.

  • The Possible Dream

    13

    When they arrived at the house they found Carmen wrapped in blankets and drenched in sweat. Santiago, the oldest of their children, was at her side wiping her forehead with a warm cloth. Luca was warming some food in the kitchen and the youngest children were wandering around the house, frightened. Miss Juliana headed immediately to the big bed made from petate and rope, and took out a small metal box, scissors, rags in various colors, alcohol, ointments and pomades in small bottles of various shapes. Luca brought her some hot water. Carmen started breathing more rapidly. Pain etched itself on her face.

    Ral took off his hat and stepped into the hallway. He sat on a wooden bench that he had built himself and began to think. It was still dark outside. He clearly remembered the afternoon when, as a teenager, his father, a Spanish citizen of Basque origin, took him to Chalatenango and bought him his first hat. That afternoon he told his son that he was convinced someone destined for great things would descend from his blood. Back then, Ral didnt understand what his father meant. But on that summer dawn, with the roosters already crowing and the morning birds announcing the imminent sunrise, he was convinced that his fathers words were referring to Carmens eighth childbirth.

    He also remembered the night several years before, at the wake for Marina Zelaya, when Miss Juliana, with a cigar in her mouth and a cup of black coffee in her hand, had told him as she looked off into the distance, Look, Ral, I know what Im talking about, this house is going to be washed away by the waters.

  • The Possible Dream

    14

    At that time the village of Santa Teresa was a handful of small houses scattered between the Gualeza River and the majestic Lempa River. Its true name was Potrerillos, but its inhabitants always preferred to call it by the name of its patron saint. It was officially named Santa Teresa around 1971, by legislative decree.

    The people of the town were simple, united, and happy. Most of them farmed their own small parcels of land. On Sundays they would go to the market in the village of Potonico or in the city of Chalatenango. They sold corn, sorghum, beans and rice, and they bought leather straps for sandal