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Don't Be Afraid, Gringo

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  352 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
The award-winning oral history of Elvia Alvarado, a courageous campesina (peasant) activist in Honduras, the poorest country in Central America. Trained by the Catholic Church to organize women's groups to combat malnutrition, Alvarado began to question why campesinos were malnourished to begin with. Her growing political awareness, her travels by foot over the back roads ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 19th 1989 by Harper Perennial (first published 1987)
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Grady McCallie
Dec 28, 2015 Grady McCallie rated it really liked it
In her mid-30s at the time, activist Medea Benjamin assembled hours of interviews with campesina organizer Elvia Alvarado into a coherent, readable take on life, society, and power among the campesinos of Honduras in the 1980s. Although it is nearly 30 years old (published originally in 1987), the book is a rewarding read. Alvarado tells the story of her life and presents a down-to-earth critique of corruption and violence. She explains why campesinos have organized to take back land they beleiv ...more
John Hubbard
Jun 22, 2016 John Hubbard rated it liked it
Elvia is an organizer of campesinos. She had a hard life by beginning to have kids at fifteen. The first three were by different men who played no part in raising their children. The next man she stayed with for 18 years and raised his three and to some degree the first three children with Elvia. A good percentage of the book demonstrates the customs and living conditions of the Honduran campesino. This part is enjoyable if slight. Another significant section of the book is rants about society a ...more
Reading this for a upcoming trip to Honduras and Guatemala with an Interfaith group from the United States. As I read it, I felt that much of what Elvia, a peasant woman who has no more then a 2nd grade education and became a women organizer for the Catholic church, was speaking about in the 1980's, hasn't changed. There might not be Sandinistas and Contras and Ortega's or Regan's in the picture now, however, the life of Honduran poor that make up the majority of the population has not changed a ...more
May 04, 2013 Janet rated it liked it
The tale of Elvia Alvarado is compelling, especially as it is her voice telling the story translated into English. The struggle of Hondurans and the role of the US in Central America is not widely known, but this book provides a meaningful glimpse into a reality vastly different than what is often portrayed. Well worth the read.
Liu Zhen
Aug 14, 2011 Liu Zhen rated it liked it
Shelves: 12th
Title: Don't Be Afraid, Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks From The Heart: The Story of Elvia Alvarado
Author: Elvia Alvarado, Medea Benjamin (Translator)
Pages: 208
Publisher: Published July 19th 1989 by Harper Perennial (first published 1987)
Isbn: 006097205X (ISBN13: 9780060972059)

“It’s often a tough battle to win the women over. But once you get them organized, they change overnight.” is a quotation with a picture of three women carrying a folk like tool on their shoulder walking at the beginning
Ian Mchugh
Apr 11, 2010 Ian Mchugh rated it really liked it
The moving story of Elvia Alvarado, a Honduran trade union leader. The book takes the form of an oral narrative which the author/editor Medea Benjamin has arranged into chapters under discussion topics.
Elvia Alvarado narrates with passion on all aspects of her life and of the daily troubles she encountered in 1980s Honduras.
The book seems 'dated' now as Honduras has changed immeasurably since it was written. As a historical document however, it is invaluable as a glimpse into a neglected area o
Jan 28, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
Peace Corps friends must read. Honduran campesino land rights struggle and interesting explanation of historical U.S. involvement with Honduras and the irony of it.*U.S. tries to promote democracy which in reality greatly enhances social class disparity leading to a climate of violence and internal rebellion as a result of neglecting citizens basic needs.

U.S tries to promote democracy in Honduras and aid funnels into 'Contras' ->to Honduran military (which is also gaining power after U.S. pre
Jan 24, 2010 Diana rated it really liked it
I absolutely tore through this book due to its conversational style as an oral biography. While the themes and topics addressed are definitely worthy of additional thought and reflection, the language was like an IV instead of digesting a pill. That said, although this book was easy to read, it certainly doesnt let the reader off the hook. Everyone kept asking me why it was called Dont be afraid, Gringo when the story was clearly about some Honduran lady... and why should we be afraid of her? Th ...more
Jun 22, 2013 Katherine rated it liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Katherine by: IDEX
This book deserve more 3.5 stars.

This not a new story to me unfortunately, but I do love the simplicity of one woman's perspective on the campesino struggles in Honduras. This is not a country I'm too familiar with, but the struggle definitely is.

Elvia Alvarado is one passionate, strong and inspiring woman, who has made a life commitment to improve the livelihoods of campesinos and to fight for them to live with dignity in a country where they are constantly oppressed.

As this book is told in 1
Mar 29, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it
Benjamin extensively follows Elvia Alvarado, a campasino (peasant) Honduran during the 1980's. This book relates the many stories told by Alvarado concerning the ongoing plight of the peasants. Honduras is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere (second only to Haiti). The stories of not enough food, abuse by the leaders of Honduras as well as the United States are not new to our ears. There seem to be no good answers for any of these conditions. I read this book on my way to Roatan ...more
Jun 28, 2016 Amanda rated it liked it
Shelves: history, biography
The poor man and the oppressor meet together; the LORD gives light to the eyes of both.

I saw this book and immediately wanted to read it in order to hear the realities the poor face. Elvia Alvarado's story is honest and striking.
Kathryn Fink
Nov 11, 2012 Kathryn Fink rated it really liked it
another translated book...
beautiful, sad... empowering.
actual accounts of a female activist in Honduras who started out living like
most natives in Honduras...
very poor, hungry and over worked by the government.
throughout her personal experiences she finds herself
educating women about sexual health, their power as women, how to change the dialogue by
demanding equality, self respect, etc.
she becomes somewhat of a leader in her community and educator and in result her government job is put on th
Becca Kelley
May 10, 2014 Becca Kelley rated it liked it
Very simple English, which makes this an informative and quick read. Very interesting story of the lives of campesinos in Honduras. I read it while in Honduras and liked it a lot, especially because the author was a female. I do think it is partially outdated and I live in the “frontera” (frontier) of Honduras and the problems that Alvarado talked about were not issues in today’s life but a lot of the cultural components really hit home with me. Despite this, I would still recommend this book fo ...more
May 31, 2012 Johanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody who want to know about Latin American woman struggles.
Very powerful book. I'm an Honduran woman I was working with children from the countryside of my country I saw a lot stories like Elvia says. The campesinos lives it worst nobody can't imagine what's going on in the indigenous life's only if you can go into they communities you might have one idea about it. I can say from my own experiences the women from the countryside are the most stronger person what I met there. Without any education, she has a better understanding about everything than mos ...more
Feb 24, 2009 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: political, honduras, nat
What makes this book so immediate and powerful is that it is an oral history -- Benjamin lets Elvia Alvarado tell her story in her own words, and its both depressing and inspiring. Her life provides great insight into the struggles of poor indigenous groups in Central America, and her personal bravery is remarkable. Without any education, she has a better understanding of international politics and economic injustice than most college educated people here.
Ron Ballard
Jun 19, 2009 Ron Ballard rated it it was amazing
Story of Elvia Alvarado, a courageous campesina activist in Honduras. She organized women's groups to combat malnutrition in her country and has led dangerous land recovery actions in an effort to enforce the national reform law. She has been harassed, jailed and tortured at the hands of the Honduran military. A great story of peasant struggle and political conflict. Easy read, hard to put down. Great woman. A true role model for all.
Aug 02, 2011 Scot rated it liked it
Incredible story pulled together from a series of one on one interviews Medea Benjamin did with Honduran campesina organizer Elvia Alvarado during the Contra War. Amazing insights into day to day life and struggle for campesinos in Central America struggling to live, eat and survive amidst war, globalization and liberalization. Elvia is one of my new heros now!
Jul 16, 2014 Alice rated it really liked it
This is not, in any way, great literature. But, it is a very straightforward telling of the opinion of one woman in Honduras in the 1980's. Getting a first-hand perspective of the poverty and inequity in the country is very valuable for anyone who's followed the unrest in the area and wonders how things got that way.
Feb 26, 2010 Courtney rated it really liked it
Great read about the campesino point of view during the cold war in Latin America. After living there for 3 years I really enjoyed reading this point of view and noticed how many things have remained much the same over time. If you're interested in the politics of that time or area you'll love it:)
May 17, 2007 Yochi rated it it was amazing
this is by far one of the most interesting books i have read about central america. it follows elvia's life as an organizer of women's groups in rural honduras. and to top it off, it is in one of my favorite formats - oral autobiography. let me know if you want to borrow it.
Sep 08, 2010 Angela rated it it was amazing
I'm so glad I read this book. It was really interesting and convicting. I was really glad to hear about the situation in Honduras from the perspective of someone who had lived through persecution and fought for campesino rights. Everyone should read this book.
Jenna Garrett
Sep 19, 2012 Jenna Garrett rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011, latin-america
I was disappointed that I couldn't find this book in Spanish - the translation made me feel like I wasn't really hearing her words.

It is an important story about the plight of oppressed campesinos in Honduras, but I just couldn't get past the English translation.
This book is very powerful but the last chapter is the BEST! It blew my mind. Anybody working in solidarity with people from other backgrounds/countries should read this!
Andrew Bzowyckyj
May 01, 2012 Andrew Bzowyckyj rated it really liked it

Very touching story! I loved the narrative style, it really added a lot to the story. It was very helpful for allowing the reader to see the world from Elvia's eyes.
Oct 09, 2008 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
This book was so good, it stays with me till this day. I recently listed Elvia Alvarado as a 'hero' from a book I'd like to be like.
Nov 13, 2009 Cherie rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting story about an activist's struggle for the campesinos in Honduras; really interesting, though the writing is not the best.
Aug 23, 2007 Kat rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Tara and other L.A. enthusiasts
Learned a lot about Honduras and how it was different...and the same as it's neighboring countries. A real eye opener.
Jun 24, 2009 Jen rated it really liked it
Back when the Lempira was 2 to the US $. A bit outdated but definitely worth the read, and the only one of its kind.
Sep 18, 2008 Nick added it
Learn about honduras rural life from a 20 years ago. Things have a changed a bit now, but it's a compelling struggle.
Nov 07, 2011 Charissa rated it it was amazing
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Around the World ...: Discussion for Don't Be Afraid, Gringo 2 24 Oct 10, 2015 05:23PM  
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“I don't think that God says, "Go to church and pray all day and everything will be fine." No. For me God says, "Go out and make the changes that need to be made, and I'll be there to help you.” 59 likes
“The church wanted us to give out food to malnourished children, but they didn't want us to question why they were malnourished to begin with.” 1 likes
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