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Our Roots & History

CARECEN SF’s founders were active in the resistance movement that arose in El Salvador in the 1970s to fight against the grave political and economic injustices that characterized the country.

They were ultimately forced to flee El Salvador during the civil war and established CARECEN in San Francisco in 1986 to address the needs of Salvadorans and other Central Americans who fled the region amid civil war, political repression, and counter-insurgencies of the 1980s. One of our founders, Ricardo Calderon, is still working with us as one of our senior paralegals. Establishing the organization was no easy task. With little or no resources Ricardo and his colleagues persevered in breaking through great obstacles and establishing an organization that would prove to be critical for Central Americans and other Latinos in the SF Bay Area. Other Salvadoran exiles established CARECEN offices in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Houston, and New York City.

CARECEN SF’s founders worked with and were inspired by Monsignor Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador.

Monsignor Romero witnessed brutal violations of human rights and spoke out on behalf of the poor and victims of the country’s civil war. He was assassinated by right-wing operatives in 1980. During his lifetime, Monsignor Romero was at the forefront of the Salvadoran social justice struggle. Today, his example continues to provide inspiration and guidance as we work to build a more just and equitable world. The beatification of Monsignor Romero by the Catholic Church took place in May of 2015 in San Salvador at the Plaza Salvador del Mundo. An estimated 250,000 people attended the service.