Virginia Guide for Tourist

In Virginia, Salvadorans represent the largest share of Latino newcomers. For them, religious institutions have been particularly instrumental, given the circumstances surrounding their exit from El Salvador and arrival in the United States. The U.S. government’s hostile reception, expressed in its refusal to grant them refugee status, made these newcomers ineligible for state-sponsored resettlement assistance, including programs to support and strengthen community-building and social-service efforts. But this context of scarcity was counterbalanced with sympathetic efforts by progressive sectors of civil society. In fact, the civil war in

El Salvador and the refugee crisis constituted catalytic forces that fueled pro-Salvadoran activism during the 1980s.

Most remarkably, across northern Virginia, worship communities of various denominations have today become springboards for dynamic social-service agencies. For example, in Bailey’s Crossroads, Saint Anthony of Padua (a Catholic parish) and its neighbor, United Methodist Church-Culmore (UMC), have both launched initiatives to meet the pressing needs of low-income Latinos. In 1992, Rev. Jose Hoyos, then parochial vicar, founded Marcelino Pan y Vino Inc. (MAPAVI), a nonprofit sectarian organization that helps Latinos facing life-threatening diseases pay for medical expenses. Around the same time, UMC-Culmore pastor Rev. Eliana Rosa founded Grace Ministries, a popular emergency food distribution program that serves hundreds of needy Virginia Latino families the first Friday of every month. Likewise, in 2001 Alexandria-based Good Shepherd Catholic Church, together with community members, launched El Progreso Hispano (Hispanic Progress), an organization serving low-income Latinos in the Route 1 south corridor.


1. The Bretton Woods conference of July 1944, attended by representatives of 44 nations, resulted in the creation of several new international financial institutions: the International Monetary Fund (IMF); the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD); and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). These institutions led to a system of management of the international economy, making the United States the hegemonic power that enforced the economic rules of the game.

2. See Levitt, and Montes and Garcia. Journalists brought Intipuca to public attention as early as 1979. In 1986 Salvadoran sociologist Segundo Montes conducted survey research in Intipuca and among Salvadorans in DC; throughout the 1980s and 1990s journalists from all over the world reported on Intipuca and its unique ties to DC.

3. Singer et al., 2004.

4. See Zarrugh; see also Virginia Latino Advisory Committee Reports.

5. True estimates of the Virginia Latino population might be much larger, given that census data do not account for the undocumented. Current figures estimate there are 100,000 undocumented Latinos across Virginia. See census data at the University of Virginia’s Cooper Center, in the Virginia Hispanics: Demographics and Workforce section: /demographics/magazine/DW%20pages/5_HispanicsPart1_ DW/01_HispTitle.html (accessed 2006).

6. See Virginia Latino Advisory Board Web site,

7. See Weldon Cooper Center, 2006, and Gozdziak and Bump.

8. Census 2005; Weldon Cooper Center: magazine /DW%20pages/5_HispanicsPart1_DW/01_HispTitle.html.

9. Gozdziak and Martin.

10. Virginia Latino Advisory Commission Final Report 2004, 35. Virginia Latino Advisory Commission: 2004 Final Report, VLAC-Archives/2004FinalReport.pdf (accessed November 3, 2006).

11. See E. Zimmerman, L. Dopkins, P. Masters, and S. Vallas, Public Perceptions of

Gang Activity in Northern Virginia: Results of a Pilot Study, the Center for Social Science Research, Youth and Community Development Working Paper Series, George Mason University, 2006. 12. Virginia Latino Advisory Commission 2006 Final Report, http://www.vlab.virginia.

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