El Salvador: Amerindians, mestizos and blancos – a DNA perspective

El Salvador like other Central American states came into existance by political manouvering by an elite class of Hispanic-descended people hereafter called blancos as a reference term. Political, economic, military and social meddling in the affairs of these countries from US governments and big corporations, has had the sole purpose to keep the elite minority of mostly Hispanic-descended people in power to the detriment of indigenous peoples.

The new class created by Spanish conquests in the Americas, the mestizos, worked as the functionaries to implement and guard Hispanic will and power over North and South America. With rights no better than common slaves, they remained divided and apolitical as a group, thus easily manipulated by the Hispanic elite. Made up in the beginning by intermixing between Hispanic males and Amerindian women, who often were unwilling participants. Later blending into this group came an influx of poor Hispanics, but their genetic contribution varied from place to place. In recent years this majority group of poor and powerless mestizos has denied the old term often connected with a negative and dark image of abuse and shame, to embrace a new term as nationals of their respective countries.

In Mexico for exampel one would be hard pressed to find a self-confessed mestizo in a nation where this group makes up the majority of the people living there. Today they are all Mexicans adhering to the nationalistic symbols of that identity. Almost forgotten is the common cause of the revolutions around 1900 to resist the true oppressors in their lives, the rich minority of blancos whose faces appear on billboards, tv commercials, tv shows and the media in general. Only to strengthen the stereotypical impression of an ideal image of beauty and complexion that comes with descendance from Europe. Being native in outlook is thus taught to be ugly and very undesireable. Hating oneself is therefore very common in all Latin American countries among people especially with Amerindio blood.

Consequently, disillusionment with society, lawlessness and the rule of the gun is common in these countries. This can clearly be seen in El Salvador where you have a virtual failed state apparatus unable to cope with gang violence, murder and lawlessness. The security institutions were established to rule and oppress the masses of mestizos and Amerindians, and thus safeguard the rule of the elite. They are therefore unable to work with the people to stem the tide of the violence and chaos gripping the country. Their rule of law was not through consesus but through violence and oppression of any disenting voices.

The Salvadorians genetically are made up of 65,5% Amerindian and 30,5% European descendancy. The genders show the raping legacy of Hispanic males against Amerindian women. Amerindian mtDNA, that shows direct descendancy from daughter to mother and grandmother, is as high as 95% overall, while Amerindian yDNA, that shows direct descendancy from son to father to grandfather, is on average 36%, while 56% is from European males.

This varies over areas in El Salvador with some showing higher concentration of Amerindian descendance than others. In the following table this can clearly be seen.

The map shows the locations mentioned in research papers by Lovo-Gómez and Sala, along with approximate locations of Amerindian ethnic groups in the beginning of the 16th century.

The next table shows the mtDNA heritage that comes from woman to her daughter and so on.

The El Salvador population is mixed like most other in Latin America. Amerindian genetic legacy is greater in the country than in other Central and South American countries and forms a majority. On average the Amerindian contribution is about 65,5% overall, composed of 95% female and 36% male contribution. This compared to 5% female and 56% male for European descendance, mostly from Spain.

The major haplogroup among Maya people, who inhabited the northwestern part of present-day El Salvador, is A. They are best known among the Amerindian ethnic groups in the country. In the eastern and northern part are the Lencas who are mostly in haplogroup C, while being low in A. Haplogroup A among Lencas can perhaps be best explained with contacts between them and the Mayas.


Lovo-Gómez, J., et al. 2007. The Genetic Male Legacy from El Salvador. Forensic Science International, vol. 171, issue 2-3, sept.: 198-203.

Sala, A., et al. 2009. Mitochondrial Echoes of First Settlement and Genetic Continuity in El Salvador. Plos One, 4, 9.

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