The SHARE Blog

Love and light: A delegate reflection by Victoria Mechler

May 2, 2014

Victoria MechlerHermanos y hermanas en Cristo,

(Brothers and sisters in Christ),

Love and hospitality are universal. There wasn´t a day in El Salvador we did not experience that. While some days we were getting our pictures taken by police officer noticing the big group of North Americans, or gringos a we were called, we were always welcomed with open arms and hearts.

From the moment we arrived, the love was apparent. Read More »


Wilfredo Medrano: A life dedicated to working for human dignity

April 29, 2014

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

While I had met Wilfredo Medrano through various meetings and events, traveling with him on tour I learned the true depth of his passion for human rights and commitment to the victims he works with. Over the course of meals, questions, and conversations with our gracious, curious hosts, more and more of his life story emerged. A quiet, humble man, Wilfredo does not talk himself up, but speaks with deep conviction.

Wilfredo grew up in Chalatenango and studied at the University of El Salvador (UES) in the early 1980s. As Wilfredo describes it, it was a time when nearly all young people, especially university students at the UES were viewed as potential subversives, supporters of the FMLN. Just being seen on the sidewalk with an UES notebook was motive enough for the National Guard to detain a young person.

One weekend while visiting his family, security forces arrested and imprisoned him. Thanks to the persistent inquiries and actions of friends and family, he was released after fifteen days – fifteen days blindfolded in solitary confinement. Wilfredo thought of the many other captured youth who had no one to stand up for them, and decided to change majors and study law.

Read More »


1991 Ambush in Zapote Chalatenango

April 28, 2014

April 11 commemorated the 23rd anniversary of the assassination of guerrilla commander Jesus Rojas “Antonio Cardenal Caldera” and 14 comrades, people who gave their lives in the ambush of the Zapote in the department of Chalatenango. The ambush is commemorated each year with a Mass in honor of the victims and survivors. The act is organized by the parish of Arcatao, nearby communities and the CCR.

Mass to honor the victims./Misa solemne para rendir honor a las victimas.

Mass to honor the victims./Misa solemne para rendir honor a las victimas.

Rojas was born in Nicaragua, was a Jesuit seminarian enlightened by Vatican II, Medellin and his uncle, the poet Ernesto Cardenal. He decided to walk the dusty villages of Aguilares, El Paisnal and Guazapa in 1973. He opened a gap to armed popular struggle, until he became a member of the Central Committee and the Political Committee of the FPL.

Read More »


International Mother Earth Day: Commemoration or Struggle?

April 22, 2014

Día mundíal de la tierraThe United Nations declared April 22nd International Mother Earth Day in 2009, even while Earth Day is already celebrated throughout the world.  It was established to create a common awareness surrounding many environmental issues faced globally, including over-population, pollution, and protection of biodiversity, underlining the importance of responsible usage of natural resources and environmental education.

According to a piece on the United Nations website, this year’s International Mother Earth Day focuses on “Green Cities” with the goal of mobilizing millions of people to work toward a sustainable and healthy environment.  The UN notes that more than half the world’s population live in cities, and while this urban population continues to grow and global environment issues worsen, cities must evolve.

In El Salvador, Read More »


Witnessing Democracy in El Salvador


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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmsuVaXxU3g

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 »


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