Lourdes Salado (Dominican Republic)

Lourdes Salado was born in San Jose de las Matas, a town in the Dominican Republic, on January 13, 1946. Her mother belonged to a family that was one of the first to settle in San Jose. The family owned many acres of land and Salado’s grandparents cultivated sugar cane, bean, tobacco, and rice. They employed many families to work the land and thus established the town of San Jose. Salado’s grandparents not only employed these farming families but also taught them how to cook, weave, crochet, and bake. Salado’s father arrived at the Dominican Republic at a young age. He was born 19 miles from where Lourdes was raised, and his father died when he was very young. Thus, he worked in a pharmacy to help support his family. In addition, Salado’s father was musically inclined, and when the town of San Jose burned, he built an extra room in his home to house his family. When Salado’s parents married, her grandfather provided them with some land and a small business.

Growing up, Salado initially lived on farm but was later moved into a Catholic school, visiting home during summers. San Jose was a small, rural town that also had a small church. Religion was important to Salado’s family, and they attended Church every Sunday. The Catholic school was fairly traditional, where students were required to pray before continuing on with daily activities. Later on, her father established a business in Santiago. However, her father had to leave the business due to local pressure. Salado’s family story, as well as other families’ stories, are recorded in a book written by Kenneth Evan Sharpe titled Peasant Politics: Struggle in a Dominican Village published in 1977 by Jon Hopkins University Press.

Eventually, Salado left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1966. A year prior, a civil war broke out in the Dominican Republic. Salado witnessed the disappearances and unrest, where several of her friends were taken and never heard from again. In addition, it was mandatory to attend pro government rallies and citizens had to be careful in what they said about the regime. Salado arrived to the U.S. on a visiting visa.

Salado met her husband at a New Year’s Eve party and was married a year later. She has two sons. While raising a family, Salado attended a vocational school at night and later joined the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. After graduating from FIT, she worked for Coterie Fashion in New York for 30 years.

Salado has been heavily involved in community service. She teaches at a vocational school and is involved in church activities that focus on charitable acts and giving. In her later life, Salado established a foundation in her mother’s memory which attempts to preserve her grandfather’s land while also aiding the poor of the Dominican Republic. The foundation sends medicine, clothing, and other supplies for people in need in San Jose. The foundation has supplied dolls with the names of people who used to live in San Jose. Moreover, when a local baseball league attempted to seize her grandfather’s land to construct a baseball field, Salado fought the baseball league and local government to preserve her grandfather’s land. In 2012, her husband ran a mayoral campaign for Perth Amboy, New Jersey.