The SHARE Blog

Witnessing Democracy in El Salvador

April 22, 2014

An article by Robert Leleux, one of SHARE’s elections observers during the first round in Februrary.  The article was originally published in the Texas Observer.

Dolores Hernandez, a member of the Committee of the Mothers, or Comadres, at the Monument to Truth and Memory in San Salvador. Photo courtesy Robert Leleux.

Dolores Hernandez, a member of the Committee of the Mothers, or Comadres, at the Monument to Truth and Memory in San Salvador.
Photo courtesy Robert Leleux.

Earlier this year, I traveled to El Salvador with my friend, activist Sissy Farenthold—a trip arranged by the human rights organization SHARE El Salvador—to serve as an international observer of the Feb. 2 presidential election. It was the fifth such election since the 1992 Chapultepec Peace Accords ended the nation’s 12-year civil war. El Salvador’s history reads like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s The Autumn of the Patriarch, filled with slaughter, tyranny and horror, so any free election is cause for celebration. But this one held special significance, as it was the left’s first real opportunity to capture the presidency.

Read More »

Meet Silvia a scholarship student from CRIPDES San Vicente

April 18, 2014

Silvia a scholarship student from CRIPDES San Vicente

Silvia a scholarship student from CRIPDES San Vicente

Meet Silvia del Carmen Leiva Flores, a 20- year-old young woman from El Coyol Community.She is a high school student via distance learning through the National Institute of San Nicolas Lempa.

Silvia is one of the beneficiaries of the leadership development and academic formation project with CRIPDES San Vicente. This project fosters leadership and community organizing abilities of 21 young men and women through a training process, accompaniment in community organizing, and academic support. Read More »

2014 Presidential Elections Report

April 14, 2014

After many weeks of compiling elections reports from national and international observers, we finally present a summary of our observations for the first and second round of elections.  It was such a pleasure to have over 100 certified international observers join nearly 60 national observers throughout the country to ensure a free and fair electoral process.

SHARE El Salvador has observed every presidential election in El Salvador since the signing of the Peace Accords, and this year was no exception. SHARE accredited national and international observers to monitor the 2014 Presidential Election process, with a group of 56 national observers and 108 international observers in the first round of elections.  A group of 31 international observers and 56 national observers helped guarantee the transparency of the run-off election on March 9th, observing in many of the same voting centers as the first round.

Observers represented various organizations, universities, and religious institutions,   including small groups from CARECEN, SALEF, a Berkeley city councilmember, and ex-mayor of Berkeley, Gus Newport.  National groups included the Alliance for the Defense of the Rights of Rural Women and members of the LGBTQ community.  164 observers monitored voting centers in San Salvador, La Libertad, San Vicente, Cabañas, Ahuachapán, Chalatenango, La Paz, Sonsonate, and Usulután in February.

International observers from SHARE, Sister Cities, and CISPES held a press conference in February to announce elections observations and congratulate the TSE for a smooth and transparent process. // Observadores internacionales de SHARE, Ciudades Hermanas, y CISPES hicieron una conferencia de prensa para anunciar sus observaciones y felicitar al TSE por un proceso electoral muy transparente.

International observers from SHARE, Sister Cities, and CISPES held a press conference in February to announce elections observations and congratulate the TSE for a smooth and transparent process. // Observadores internacionales de SHARE, Ciudades Hermanas, y CISPES hicieron una conferencia de prensa para anunciar sus observaciones y felicitar al TSE por un proceso electoral muy transparente.

Throughout the entire process, observing preparations, Election Day, and the transmission of results in both February and March, our observer reports highlight the Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s transparency, professionalism, and fluidity during the 2014 electoral process.

The TSE made many improvements to the Salvadoran electoral process for 2014.  They allowed a greater window for citizens to register to vote, closing the electoral registry just 122 days prior to the February elections.  The TSE also ensured an update of the same electoral registry, removing thousands of deceased voters from the list and, for the first time, expanding the registry to include 10,337 Salvadorans living abroad to vote via absentee ballot. The presence of many different national and international observation missions, as well as Salvadoran government institutions and non-government organizations, including the National Civil Police (PNC), Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, political party representatives, TSE representatives, and presence of the Green Cross first-responders teams also contributed positively to the 2014 electoral process.

Second round press conference with SHARE and CISPES observers. // Conferencia de prensa de la segunda vuelta, con observadores de SHARE y CISPES.

Second round press conference with SHARE and CISPES observers. // Conferencia de prensa de la segunda vuelta, con observadores de SHARE y CISPES.

Thanks to the implementation of residential voting centers throughout the country, this year’s elections were much more accessible to citizens, an important advance in the voting system.  Citizens did not have to wait in long lines, and there was also special attention given to pregnant women, the elderly, and differently abled. El Salvador is the last country in Latin America to implement residential voting.

For the first time, PNC agents on duty at voting centers were also able to vote in the last polling station at each center. Read More »

Patricia García, Presente en Boston!

April 2, 2014

SHARE Human Rights Advocacy Coordinator, Bethany Loberg, recently completed a Tour for Truth and Justice with Wilfredo Medrano of Tutela Legal María Julia Hernandez. She reflects on ways in which the life of Patricia Garcia, who participated in this tour last year, continues to impact the people and communities they visited.

Paty Garcia Display

Today marks two months since Patricia García, president of COMADRES, human rights defender, mother, nurse, friend, passed away after a struggle with cancer. Last year I had the blessing to go on speaking tour with Patricia in New York, New Jersey, and Boston. At the beginning of this week, I visited Boston again, with Wilfredo Medrano of Tutela Legal María Julia Hernandez on this year’s Truth and Justice for El Salvador Tour,  sharing the ongoing struggle for justice. As we walked through some of the places we had visited last, year, I could feel Patricia’s spirit present so very strongly – an energy charged with love, gentleness, and courage.

Patricia shared her story quietly with an incredible tenacity, and strength – her memories of Monseñor Romero as a young girl, bringing life to her Christian Base community, visiting her in exile in Mexico, joining the lucha of las Comadres from the age of 10, taking the testimonies of the mothers searching for their loved ones, being captured and brutally tortured, and always, always speaking out, sharing the truth, calling for justice.  This short clip of an interview by former SHARE staff member Danielle Mackey truly captures Patricia’s spirit:

Judy Swett and Kathy Tighe, associates of the Sisters of St. Joseph Boston coordinated our visit to Boston,welcoming Wilfredo and I with open arms. Last year Judy and Katy  lead a committee that coordinated our visit last year, welcoming Patricia, Marina, and I with deep love and Boston Red Sox hats. Judy and Kathy traveled to El Salvador to observe the first round of the presidential elections with SHARE in February. We had planned to visit Patricia the day after the elections, however, Patricia passed away on the day of the elections, so Judy, Kathy, and I went together to Patricia’s funeral, standing with Patricia’s family as tears ran down everyone’s faces and friends shared memories of Paty, standing for justice starting in a time when it was a crime just to walk through the streets with a Bible, always acting with moral conviction and love. Read More »

Ecumenical Festival with the LGBTI community

April 1, 2014

01c4e0043b7471c29e57e0370e5b4112_XLLast Thursday March 27 we accompanied the International Ecumenical Faith Festival, sponsored by Legal Assistance for Sexual Diversity of El Salvador (ALDES), to  end impunity for hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) in El Salvador.

The conference focused on human rights for the LGBTI Community in El Salvador, promoting tolerance of sexual diversity, providing a space for dialogue among various sectors of the Salvadoran community, and raising awareness of the challenges this community faces in accessing justice and equity in the country.

During both rounds of presidential elections observation, SHARE Foundation accredited national observers from the LGBTI community so that they could ensure that their rights be respected. Read More »

Standing for Justice for Grave Human Rights Violations in El Salvador: The International Community Calls for Action

March 28, 2014

Wilfredo Medrano of Tutela Legal Maria Julia Hernandez and Bethany Loberg of SHARE El Salvador are touring the East Coast of the United States increasing awareness of the movement for truth and justice in  El Salvador. So far they have visited Houston, North Carolina, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

Even if you’re not able to join the tour you can be part of the movement for Truth and Justice in El Salvador by signing onto the following statement:

[emailpetition id=”4″]

Standing for Justice for Grave Human Rights Violations in El Salvador:

The International Community Calls for Action

March 2014 

As members of the international community – human rights, solidarity, faith and community organizations and individuals, we express our solidarity with the Pro-Historical Memory Human Rights Working Commission and with the victims of grave human rights violations in their demands that the government of El Salvador take actions to implement a holistic policy of truth, justice, and reparations.

Although 22 years have passed since the Peace Accords, El Salvador continues to suffer a high level of violence, concentration of resources, and impunity. With the General Amnesty Law and the lack of political will to implement justice, the majority of the grave human rights violations during the armed conflict continue in impunity. Healing the wounds left by past governments’ policies of terror is essential to achieve true peace. Otherwise the wounds will continue to manifest in violence and impunity today and in the future. Read More »

Sanchez Ceren and Ortiz officially named President and Vice President – Elect

March 26, 2014

President-Elect Salvador Sanchez Ceren with Vice President-Elect Oscar Ortiz.

President-Elect Salvador Sanchez Ceren with Vice President-Elect Oscar Ortiz. (Photo courtesy TSE)

Last night, President-Elect Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Vice President-Elect Oscar Ortiz received their official credentials from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.  Mayors, legislative assembly members, diplomats, political party representatives and other representatives from civil society witnessed the ceremony at CIFCO, the national convention center. The ceremony came sixteen days after the second round of elections, amidst ARENA’s accusations of fraud and call for a recount to try to derail the March 9th elections, despite observation reports from the Organization of American States, the European Union, and other international bodies, affirming the 2014 elections as a law-abiding and transparent process.  The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court also denied ARENA’s vote-by-vote recount petition this morning.

“Today, we present the documents that certify Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Oscar Samuel Ortiz Asencio as President and Vice-President of the Republic for 2014-2019.  I have nothing more to say but to congratulate the winning candidates, I wish them the best of success in their mandate.  On behalf of this collegial body, allow me to congratulate their legal, legitimate, and transparent triumph won at the polls,” said TSE president Magistrate Eugenio Chicas Martinez, at the close of the ceremony.

Many have said the spirit of Archbishop Romero has been present in these historic elections.  The TSE’s unwavering declaration of elections results came through on the 34th anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom, with the credentials ceremony taking place the following evening.

¡Bienvenidos/as, St. Thomas More Newman Parish!

March 21, 2014

Tomorrow SHARE will welcome our first delegation from the St. Thomas More Newman Parish, in Columbia, Missouri.  Most delegates are current university students active in the life of the parish, and will spend their week in El Salvador celebrating the life and prophetic voice of Archbishop Oscar Romero, learning about the current struggles of the organized communities in La Libertad, and visiting with their sister parish Immaculate Conception.


CRIPDES Sur’s Zulma Hernandez and SHARE’s Sarah Hall during their visit with the St. Thomas More Newman Parish in August 2013.

Board members of the Newman Volunteer Corps found SHARE in late 2012 and inquired about a starting sistering relationship.  A group of parish staff, members, and a university student visited El Salvador in June of 2013 to explore the possibility of a sistering relationship with CRIPDES Sur, one of SHARE’s counterparts in the southern part of La Libertad.  After four days visiting various communities with CRIPDES Sur coordinators, many conversations with SHARE staff, and continued discernment with parish members upon their return to the U.S., St. Thomas More Newman Center officially signed the Sistering Covenant in September 2013!  

A unique aspect of this new sistering relationship is a spiritual connection with the Immaculate Conception Parish in El Puerto de La Libertad, a faith community committed to social justice and serving the poor throughout the region.  U.S. women religious Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan served in this parish before their martyrdom on December 2, 1980.

St. Thomas More Newman seeks a relationship of solidarity and faith with their Salvadoran sisters and brothers in La Libertad.  ¡Bienvenidos a El Salvador!

To learn more about starting a sistering relationship through SHARE click here.

Monsignor Romero and Martyrdom

March 19, 2014

Pastor Miguel Tomás Castro shares this reflection he provided to the magazine “Sentir con el Pueblo” in autumn of 2013.  Pastor Miguel is general pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Jacinto, San Salvador.  Emmanuel Baptist is one of the few Salvadoran Protestant churches that continues to keep alive the memory of Monsignor Romero and his prophetic voice, referring frequently to his teachings to illustrate the Gospel.

Reflecting on the martyrdom of Monsignor Romero may seem a very simple and easy thing, but it’s not.  It’s not easy, simply because the concept of martyrdom in Monsignor Romero is not a theological concept, nor a philosophical idea.  It is the concept of a Pastor and a Prophet, who assumed faith with a clarity regarding its implications in reality and in history.


In his homily from July 24, 1977, he tells us:  “The Church cannot keep silent before these economic, political and social injustices.  If the Church didn’t speak it would be an accomplice of marginalization, of an unhealthy and sinful conformity … “

In this sense, now that we want to rescue the tradition of martyrdom, we want to do it in the same spirit as Monsignor Romero, in his spirituality that encouraged him and illuminated him in his prophetic ministry.  This is clear in his homily from August 14, 1977, when Monsignor Romero says: “The prophet has to disturb society when they are not acting in accordance with God.”  There is deep wisdom in his words, because when a Christian assumes his or her faith responsibly, living out one’s faith not just intimately, but also living it out in all dimensions of relationships, be they human, political, social, or economic relationships, faith is itself an outcry against injustice, an outcry that calls out the reality behind God’s back, and converts to God.  Faith converts to the justice of God.

From this conscience, Monsignor Romero was capable of saying: “Sisters and Brothers, on the occasion of my birthday, I have been able to understand once again that my life does not belong to me.  Instead, it belongs to you,” from his Homily on August 21, 1977.

It is this clarity of faith that made Monsignor Romero not just a consistent Christian, but a pastor, a prophet consistent with and faithful to God, always seeking His justice among us.

Read More »

Tell Your Congressperson to Take Action!

March 15, 2014

On March 13, 2013 at 1:45 a.m., the Salvadoran Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) held a press conference announcing the final election results. The FMLN won 50.11% of the vote with 1,495,815 votes and ARENA 49.89% with 1,489,451 votes (see the press release here). However, the TSE has yet to declare Salvador Sanchez Ceren the official president elect, as first they have to rule on legal requests ARENA submitted to nullify the elections, claiming that 20,000 FMLN poll workers voted twice.
Given the declarations by the Attorney General that there was no fraud in the elections, and the statements by the OAS, United Nations and many observation groups noting the transparency and efficiency of the elections, ARENA’s claims have no substance.

YOU can take action today to help ensure that the people’s vote is respected!

Call on your Congressperson and ask him/her to:

  • Make a public statement in support of the institutional authority of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and for El Salvador’s legally-established electoral procedures to be respected.
  • Call on President Obama to congratulate the President-elect once the winner has been officially declared by the Electoral Tribunal.
  • Read More »

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