This mural reflects the varied realities of life in Central America - poverty, violence, and war - celebrations of music and culture and redistributed land. The mural was originally painted in 1984, during the Central American wars and was intended to both call attention to the wars and to oppose the U.S. government's intervention. The artists aimed to create a symbol of solidarity, love, and respect for the people of Central America. This mural is part of an artistic effort named "Placa", which painted murals along a one block alley in the Mission District of San Francisco and transformed a neglected barrio alley into an outdoor art gallery.
Over time, most of the murals faded or suffered water damage, and have been painted over with new artworks depicting new themes: gentrification and displacement, and more modern takes on Latin American culture. But the 200-square-foot piece by Miranda Bergman and O'Brien Thiele remains. It covers the rear of a two-car garage and shows a sweeping collage of symbols evoking Central America in the 1980s: overflowing baskets of papayas and bananas, vivid red bougainvillea, grim mothers of the "disappeared" carrying pictures of their loved ones, young soldiers with machine guns, a stern-faced Ronald Reagan, and a soaring dove of peace.
The artists briefly considered a new theme for their work, something more reflective of modern times. "But then we realized that the things we were hoping for then - peace, sovereignty, prosperity in Central America - haven't happened yet. Those issues are still all too real," said Bergman. "This mural is a snapshot of history, not just in Central America but in this neighborhood, too. We want to honor that."