The SHARE Blog

Repression continues 5 years after Honduran golpe de estado

July 9, 2014

On June 28th, the fifth anniversary of the coup in Honduras, members of SHARE and Sister Cities gathered with Salvadoran and Honduran social movement leaders outside the Honduran embassy in El Salvador to denounce the ongoing human rights violations in Honduras and U.S. military aid to an extremely repressive government.


Protesters staged a die-in at the press conference.

As representatives of Sister Cities and SHARE read denouncements of various acts of repression, participating Salvadorans fell to the ground one by one in a die-in representing all the Hondurans murdered at the hands of their own government and the Honduran oligarchy.

The most shocking act of repression occurred May 13th, when the military police beat congressional representatives from the Libre party inside the National Congress. Bartolo Fuentes, Libre party congressman present at the demonstration stated, if the military police will beat the members of congress, with the cameras rolling, what won´t they do to the people in the communities? The last weeks have also included assassinations of indigenous leaders, anti-mining activists, and journalists, as well as violent evictions of campesinos from their land in the Bajo Aguan. Read More »

Minors at the border

July 7, 2014

In recent months hundreds of immigrant minors have streamed across the Texas-Mexico border from Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, only to be detained by Immigration Customs Enforcement. Children as young as 10, and some even younger, are currently being held in rooms nicknamed “hieleras” or ice chests, without any legal representation. This is no new pattern; Central American minors flee from violence in their countries in search of a more secure environment. Every year about 25,000 minors cross into the United States; this year that number is expected to be 90,000.

Activists in the Bay Area held a press conference July 3rd, demanding President Obama change his course of action and provide legal representation for the children.

Activists in the Bay Area held a press conference July 3rd, demanding President Obama change his course of action and provide legal representation for the children.

Action Alert: Stand with minors at the border.  Contact your Representative or Senator today.

Fearing for their lives, many children decide themselves to venture north seeking a better life or to reunite with their families already in the U.S.  Immigration officials are unprepared for such a surge, and now we are seeing hundreds of children forced into holding rooms in inhumane conditions with inadequate sleeping space, food, or the proper resources for basic hygiene.

The crisis at hand is yet another demonstration of the broken immigration system and with Congress’ failure to offer a means of real relief through comprehensive immigration policy, the Obama administration has another opportunity to change the course of such a failed immigration system. But it is not all up to the administration; communities and national groups at large are coming forth with demands in response to this situation, including legal and humanitarian demands.

Read More »

Call to Renewal of Solidarity; Invest in a Project of Hope

June 30, 2014

SHARE board member Jean Stokan wrote this piece after joining us for the June 1st presidential inauguration delegation.  Jean is Director of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Institute Justice Team and was recently elected to the National Council of Pax Christi USA.  She has walked, lived, and worked in solidarity with el pueblo salvadoreño for over thirty years.

Presidential Inauguration in CIFCO, San Salvador.

Presidential Inauguration in CIFCO, San Salvador.

June 1st marked an historic day in El Salvador. In addition to the new political space created with the FMLN party assuming the power of presidency, it represents a chance to build on the dreams and strong organization of a people who have sacrificed and suffered tremendously to create a more just and peace-filled society.  How much can be accomplished over the next five years remain to be seen.  Surely, it seems that Archbishop Romero and the many martyrs are hovering close, wanting to be invoked in order to keep the struggle for justice grounded in values of deep faith, unwavering hope and great love.

SHARE youth delegates learn and play with CRIPDES regional team members.  Delegates build relationships to continue walking in solidarity physically, through advocacy, and financial commitments.

SHARE youth delegates learn and play with CRIPDES regional team members. Delegates build relationships to continue walking in solidarity physically, through advocacy, and financial commitments.

After many years of solidarity with El Salvador, and gratitude at having witnessed this new moment in El Salvador’s history, I am torn between mixed metaphors from my Christian tradition. I feel like Mary at the tomb who just watched a sliver of light crack from the rolled-away stone; but I also sense Herod—forces threatened by the birth of Hope, ready to pounce on any significant proposal for change, or semblance of an economy that tries to make a “preferential option for the poor” and marginalized. Read More »

University scholarship students reach their dreams

June 27, 2014

Aracely and Marixa graduate from the Lutheran University.

Aracely and Marixa graduate from the Lutheran University.

In late May, I had the pleasure of attending the graduation of two university scholarship students, Aracely and Marixa, with long-time SHARE supporter Paul Kendall.  The brief visit consisted of the solemn graduation ceremony and a chance to learn more about what recent graduates of the program are doing to help their communities.  It was an exciting day, witnessing the graduates receive their diplomas and reach their life-long dreams.  

The afternoon visit with recent graduates from San Vicente was also an inspiring conversation.  Each shared their current occupations and aspirations, and discussed long-term goals to maintain their connection as graduates and continue to support one another in their endeavors.  

From right: Paul, Cesar, Darío, Mirna's husband, Mirna, Carlos, and Yasmín.

From right: Paul, Cesar, Darío, Mirna’s husband, Mirna, Carlos, Yasmín, and behind the camera, Amilkar.

Cesar works with communities in Los Nonualcos in youth violence prevention.  Darío is continuing his studies in agricultural engineering. Mirna teaches middle school and is very active in the life of her church.  Carlos is also teaching in a rural school in San Vicente.  Amilkar continues his studies in anthropology and is one of the youth promoters for community work with CRIPDES San Vicente.  The most recent graduate, Yasmin, having only completed her studies in December of last year, manages the local Tecoluca community radio station, Radio Tehuacán.  Each student demonstrated their leadership and commitment to local communities while studying, and has proven their pledge even after graduating.

Small groups changing the world

June 16, 2014

In March, human rights lawyer Wilfredo Medrano, part of the team of Tutela Legal María Julia Hernandez and SHARE staff Bethany Loberg traveled to the U.S. to raise awareness around the struggle for justice for crimes against humanity in El Salvador and the work of Tutela Legal and the Pro-Historical Memory Commission. Tutela Legal was the Archdiocese’s human rights office. Judy Swett and Kathy Tighe, Associates of the Sisters of St. Joseph Boston, who hosted the tour in Boston, share their reflections on the experience.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Wilfredo visits with a tour participant at St. Ignatius in Boston.

Wilfredo visits with a tour participant at St. Ignatius in Boston.

On a rainy, bone-chilling cold Sunday night in March a steady stream of Boston College students filled the pews at St. Ignatius, curious about the current state of Tutela Legal. They came to listen, reflect and question. The following night at Regis College, students including several of Salvadoran descent came to hear from Wilfredo Medrano of Tutela Legal and share in discussion about Tutela’s work. In both settings Wilfredo movingly shared the reality of being a lawyer committed to bringing the cases of forced disappearance, massacre, and torture to trial in El Salvador. All present witnessed the bravery of this former college student, who, inspired by Dr. Maria Julia Hernandez, a pioneer and founder of Tutela Legal, also became a fierce advocate for peace and justice through the full exercise of human rights. Read More »

¡Bienvenida Julie!

June 11, 2014

Julie LavenSHARE extends a warm welcome to Julie Laven!  Born and raised in Minnesota, Julie will coordinate SHARE’s sistering delegations and accompany SHARE counterparts working with marginalized Salvadoran communities.  We’re thrilled that she’s joining us for the next two years!

Julie graduated from St. Olaf College with a B.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies.  Julie first traveled to El Salvador in high school with her church and continued to return every year, coordinating trips for two years. Her passion for El Salvador led her to study abroad with Augsburg College’s Center for Global Education in Central America, spending a semester living in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Between homestays, lectures, and activities, Julie learned a lot about the cultures, politics, and the lives of Central Americans. She is very excited to be working with SHARE, advocating for social justice with delegations from the United States, breaking down the barriers that separate us and building bridges of hope. El Salvador is a country that has stolen her heart time and again, and she is excited to be learning and growing there for these two years.

Julie is SHARE’s new Sistering Accompaniment Coordinator.  She will coordinate and facilitate Sistering Delegations — schools and churches in the U.S. that financially and spiritually support communities in El Salvador. She will also assist with the planning and facilitation of major delegations during important anniversaries or special events, like the anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom, or Salvadoran election observation missions.  Julie will collect testimonies through interviews and meetings with people in El Salvador who are involved in SHARE projects as a way to put a human face on the development work that SHARE does.

From conquest to liberation: 2014 Presidential Inauguration

June 9, 2014

Eileen Purcell, former SHARE board member and executive director, visited El Salvador with SHARE’s first presidential inauguration delegation earlier this month.  She shares this beautiful reflection.

Presidential Inauguration in CIFCO, San Salvador.

Presidential Inauguration in CIFCO, San Salvador.

We were afraid it would pour rain!

But Madre Tierra watched and waited as thousands gathered for the historic presidential inauguration of Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Vice President Oscar Ortiz!  The first, a former school teacher, trade unionist, and peace negotiator.  The second, a former student. Both former commandantes in the Salvadoran revolution!

Outgoing President Funes, the Salvadoran National Assembly, and the Supreme Court took their places in the front of the gathering.  The Archbishop, the Nuncio, the generals, diplomats, dignitaries and the media sat just behind them. Civil Society filled in the rest of the grand pavilion:  workers, educators, private enterprise, human rights advocates, and the Mothers of the Disappeared.  Madre Guadalupe and her daughter, Tula, came. The locked out workers from the Lido Bakeries, wearing white t-shirt and red caps, were there!  Thousands more gathered around televisions, radios, computers, ipads and phones.  

Guatemalan indigenous human rights leader and Nobel Peace prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu sat proudly in her traditional indigenous dress. Deposed Honduran President Zelaya’s daughter was there. M*A*S*H star and human rights activist Mike Farrell stood tall. U.S Congressman and immigrant rights advocate Grijalva attended. Former Ambassador William Walker came. And the International Solidarity movement was there in force, including the SHARE Foundation’s 22 person delegation! Read More »

U.S. demands conditions for acceptance of Millenium Challenge Funds

June 6, 2014

This morning, we as solidarity organizations based in the United States – Committees in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), U.S.–El Salvador Sister Cities, the SHARE Foundation, and Joining Hands El Salvador Network (RUMES) – will deliver a petition signed by 1,000 U.S. citizens denouncing the manipulation of Millennium Challenge Corporation funds by the U.S. Department of State against the current policy of purchasing Salvadoran non-transgenic seeds distributed as part of the Family Agriculture Plan by the Ministry of Agriculture.

CIETTA seed bank_april 2013We share the concerns of our Salvadoran allies against this intrusion of the Embassy in the sovereign politics of this country and we declare our solidarity in their struggle to defend the purchase of native Salvadoran seeds. The purchase of these seeds is a fundamental component of the Family Agriculture Plan, which has generated employment and income for the Salvadoran cooperatives and has increased crop production significantly. This year, the program is benefiting more than 400,000 small farmers and their families, and has been applauded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the U.S. government itself.

Without this program, thousands of small and medium farmers would be excluded from the opportunity to sell their seeds to the government just because of being small businesses. Thus, the decree to promote domestic production of maize and bean seeds has also managed to break a monopoly maintained for many years by two companies, Semillas Cristiani Burkhardt, importer of Monsanto, and Fertica. The seeds currently distributed also have the advantage of being native, resistant to the climatic conditions of El Salvador and are a fundamental part of Salvadoran culture. Read More »

Stand with the Mothers of the Disappeared: Call for a day honoring the victims of forced disappearance

May 30, 2014

Human Rights Ombudsman David Morales with Pro-Memoria outside the Legislative Assembly.

Human Rights Ombudsman David Morales with Pro-Memoria outside the Legislative Assembly.

This week, as part of the International Week of the Detained and Disappeared, relatives of victims of forced disappearances and members of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission (Pro-Memoria) gathered at the Legislative Assembly to present official correspondence requesting that August 30th be named the National Day of the Victims of Forced Disappearance. Legislator Jaime Valdez, president of the Commission on Education and Culture received the letter. Human Rights Ombudsman David Morales accompanied the event, telling reporters, “Forced disappearance has been recognized as a form of torture. These mothers have been living in a condition of torture for two to three decades. The state has a responsibility to repair this historical debt.”

Pro-Memoria and the relatives of the disappeared have demanded that the government dedicate August 30th to commemorating the victims of forced disappearance since 2003. The initiative has been brought to vote four times but has yet to get enough support to pass. The first time it was taken to the floor of the Legislative Assembly in 2006, a legislator from the right-wing Arena party actually ripped the petition to pieces in front of the mothers of the disappeared.

For the relatives of the disappeared, having a day to honor their loved ones is deeply important because it means the government acknowledging the truth of its involvement in forced disappearance and recognizing the dignity of the victims.

Stand with the mothers of the disappeared in calling for a day to honor the victims by signing the letter below. We will collect signatures between now and June 28th, so Pro-Memoria can present the letters during follow-up meetings. They will be carrying out an ongoing campaign between now and August 30th.  Our support can help make this dream a reality.  


Stand with the Mothers of the Disappeared: A Day for the Victims/Un Día para las Victimas

This petition is now closed.

End date: Sep 25, 2014

Signatures collected: 213

213 signatures

Read More »

From suffering, hope and strength

May 29, 2014

This week the Salvadoran Pro-Historical Memory Commission (Pro-Memoria) commemorates the International Week of the Detained and Disappeared with various educational events and advocacy actions. The Latin American Federation of Associations for Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared (FEDEFAM) first designated the last week in May as the International Week of the Detained and Disappeared in 1981, with the intent of bringing attention to the involvement of governments of many countries in forced disappearance and calling for truth, justice and an end to forced disappearance.

Human Rights Ombudsman David Morales (Photo courtesy Pro-Memoria Histórica)

Human Rights Ombudsman David Morales
(Photo courtesy Pro-Memoria Histórica)

In El Salvador, government security forces detained and disappeared over 10,000 civilians during the civil war. Their relatives still seek to know what happened to their loved ones, unable to have closure without truth.  At Sunday’s commemorative mass, Human Rights Ombudsman David Morales recognized the terrible impact of forced disappearance. “It means permanent mourning, and this suffering is a form of torture. The mothers and children of the disappeared continue to feel like it just happened yesterday. The disappeared are not an occurrence of yesterday, they are with us today. Forced disappearance is an ongoing crime, repeated every day the remains are not found.”

Join us this Saturday for a webinar to hear directly from members of Pro-Memoria and relatives of the disappeared about their struggle for justice. Register here!

One of the mothers of the disappeared, Marta María Martinez, shares with us what the International Week of the Detained and Disappeared means to her:

Monumento_Mayo2014“It is something very deep. The government collaborated in forced disappearance. One doesn’t know where the disappeared are, or what they did with them. It is very painful, never to know. One’s loved one is left like an animal. They don’t recognize the value of Christian burial. Because one is poor, they look at you as less, treat you like garbage. We are humans, the disappeared are our loved ones, and not knowing what happened to them hurts. We have faith that this government will act to clarify what happened to so many children, youth, and elderly forcibly disappeared. It isn’t just. They disappeared six of my relatives – my niece along with her husband and son, my other niece, my brother, and his son. We looked for them everywhere. One remembers, thinks, and doesn’t know what to do, where to look. Not knowing is horrible.”   Read More »

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