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El Salvador: A former guerrilla becomes a tour guide

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LA MORA, EL SALVADOR – Dormant volcanoes and desolate Pacific beaches are the standard choices for tourists to El Salvador. But now, former Marxist guerrillas are trying to carve their own niche in the industry – offering tours that retrace their steps in the brutal 12-year civil war that took 75,000 lives.

Candelario Landaverde, who runs tours along the Guazapa volcano, where he fought for nearly a decade, says the idea is to preserve the national memory. “It is not because we cannot forgive,” he says, “but so that we never forget.”

This part of the country, an hour’s drive from the capital, San Salvador, is better known as a day-trip destination for fresh air in the countryside. But these hills, particularly this volcano, were a stronghold for the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), former rebels fighting a US-funded military who transformed into a political party after they put down their arms. So Mr. Landaverde, with a group of other families in their tiny town of La Mora, offers tours on horseback or foot that pass trenches, a destroyed church, and a school that was once a rebel encampment.

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