After nearly a decade of work, Carlos Rivera has published his life story marked by the horrors of war, but also of faith and hope.

Carlos Rivera was born in 1962 El Salvador, the smallest nation in Central America.

Known for its beautiful coastline and majestic mountains, the country fell into civil war in the 1980s, resulting in the deaths of 75,000 people and widespread poverty and violence.

"Around 1977 was the beginning of the sorrow in our country," Rivera says.

Young Rivera grew up in poverty and was swept up into the turmoil, seeing first hand friends and neighbours suffer under the brutality of the military and anti-government guerilla groups.

Joining the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (the FMLN were demobilized and became a legal political party in El Salvador after peace accords were signed in 1992), Rivera fought in the Salvadoran Civil War. At 17 he was a commander of his own unit.

Through the course of the war Rivera was captured and faced hunger, torture and even death.

Now a resident of the Pembina Valley, Rivera has collected his story of survival and fight to maintain his humanity in a new book, 'An Immigrant Latino, A Latino in the World'.

In it he recounts finding the body of his brother-in-law who had been tortured and killed.

"That was a hard part from my life," Rivera says. "I said, 'How can this happen? My brother is gone, and I am alive.'"

Rivera would go on to escape death five times, "I survived just by miracles," he says.

On the eve before being tortured, Rivera remembers looking up, and being startled by the beauty of the stars, reminding him of God's goodness.

"They were so beautiful," Rivera says. "I'm thinking this is my last night, and I ask God, 'Please don't let me die in this situation, do something.'"

Then around midnight something supernatural happened.

"I felt something I can't explain, I felt happy," he says, adding in that moment he believed God would save him.

Soon after his captors came for him and showed him the tools they would use to torture him. Before they could use them a voice from the other room cried out, "Don't touch him".

"In that moment I cried, but not of sadness, but happiness," he says.

Soon after he was released, but would live through many more life-threatening situations.

After nine years of collecting stories, and immigrating to Manitoba, Rivera is finally able to share his story of hope and forgiveness.

The book is available at Winkler Bible Book Shop, Winkler Pharmacy, Party and Gift Shop in Altona and The Co-Op Store in Rosenort.

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Winter Family Day at the A Rocha Pembina Valley Interpretive Centre

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Altona Curling Club Men's Bonspiel

26 February 2017 12:00 pm

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