The SHARE Blog

First Press Conference Announcing Elections Observers

January 15, 2014

 On Tuesday, January 14th, U.S. solidarity organizations in El Salvador held the first press conference announcing electoral observation missions’ arrival in the country at the end of January.  SHARE, along with the Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS), Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities, and Cristosal, shared details regarding their respective delegations, including observation sites, meetings, and other planned events during their short-term visits in San Salvador and surrounding departments.  Media present included TVX, Channel 21, Radio Mayavisión, and Channel 10.  Reporters were curious to know about recent observations regarding the Voto en el Exterior (new absentee voting process) and observers’ expectations for the 2014 elections.

Representatives of the five solidarity organizations at the Press Conference on Tuesday.

Representatives of the five solidarity organizations at the Press Conference on Tuesday.

The text of the press release, translated to English, is below:

We represent five international solidarity organizations: SHARE Foundation, The Center for Exchange and Solidarity (CIS), Solidarity Committee with the Salvadoran People (CISPES), Sister Cities, and Cristosal.  We come together today to inform you about the missions of the international electoral observers who will be monitoring the Salvadoran presidential elections on February 2nd, 2014, and working to ensure the transparency of said elections.  Between these five organizations we will bring more than 295 observers to the country, including representatives from National Lawyers Guild, CARECEN, Veterans for Peace, SOA Watch, England Environmental Network for Central America, and various churches, universities, and other institutions.  The groups will be distributed in the departments of San Salvador, La Libertad, Cuscatlán, Santa Ana, La Paz, Usulután, Cabañas, Chalatenango, and San Vicente in more than 30 municipalities.  They will be installed in dozens of voting centers, both rural and urban, including the Center for Exterior Voting, to guarantee the success of the electoral process.

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New Electoral Reforms with TSE President Eugenio Chicas

January 8, 2014

Eugenio Chicas, President of TSE

Eugenio Chicas, President of TSE

The 2014 elections swiftly approach. Elections have a colorful history in El Salvador, long marked by manipulation and corruption. The blatant fraud in 1970s elections broke the Salvadoran peoples’ faith in the possibility of creating change through elections, contributing to the outbreak of civil war.

 While the electoral system has improved dramatically since the peace accords, it is still continually in a refining process. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), the government institution responsible for overseeing the elections, has had its hands full preparing to implement two significant reforms to the Electoral Code:  residential voting throughout the country, and absentee voting for Salvadorans in the U.S. and Canada.

In 2013, SHARE had the opportunity to participate in a meeting with Magistrate Eugenio Chicas, President of the TSE, as he explained the process of implementing these reforms.

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Celebrating 2013!

December 30, 2013

Here are just a few highlights of what SHARE Donors made possible in 2013.

You can ensure these important programs continue in 2014. Donate today!

There is still time to donate in 2013!

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Honduras Delegation: When will the peoples’ will be respected?

December 22, 2013

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November 17th – 26th SHARE and Sister-Cities led a binational delegation of Salvadorans and U.S. Americans in solidarity with Honduras to learn about the current human rights situation and observe the November 24th General Elections. Both U.S. and Salvadoran delegates shared that going together to Honduras marked a very special aspect of the delegation, adding another layer of richness to the cultural exchange and learning.

Part of the delegation began the journey in Tegucigalpa. We got a whirlwind snapshot of Honduras – first visiting communities struggling for the right to self-determination and respect for their land as the government promotes foreign IMG_3019investment in gold mining and hydro-electric dams and sends in the military when they protest, meeting with LGBT activists excited to be included in the social movement and LIBRE party, while aware of the long struggle ahead, then meeting up with the rest of the group and members of the Honduras Solidarity network for observation training, and traveling to the Bajo Aguan to learn about the struggle for land access and observe the elections.  We observed a variety of irregularities, as did the SOA Watch, National Lawyers Guild, and the various organizations that observed with the Honduras Solidarity Network. Join us in calling on the U.S. State Department to stop legitimizing the disputed and fraudulent election.

Read More »


Give the Gift of Solidarity

December 21, 2013

1012736_10151991332369301_872577260_n-1Are you looking for a last minute Holiday Gift for a friend or family member?

A SHARE Solidarity Gift is a great way to honor a loved one with a present that supports communities in El Salvador.

You can give a gift to support a high school scholarship in honor of your favorite highschooler, plant fruit trees to honor your green thumbed friend, or provide a counseling session for a mother whose child was forcibly disappeared.

Just visit our Solidarity Gift page to select the amount you wish to give and the program you want to support. You can even include a personalized note to your friend and ask SHARE to mail them the gift.

SHARE will send a photo and card acknowledging the gift  to you or directly to the recipient depending on your preference.

Please contact Sarah at sarah@share-elsalvador.org for more information.


Celebrations of the American Churchwomen

December 16, 2013

The week of December 2nd dozens of women religious, lay leaders, college students, and people in solidarity from across the country gathered to remember the five martyred churchwomen: Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, Jean Donovan, and Carla Piette.

Altar Commemorating the American Churchwomen

Altar Commemorating the American Churchwomen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the San Francisco Bay Area Lyn Kirkconnell, a former Maryknoll Missioner who was serving in Peru at the time of their deaths, shared the following reflection:

 It is not easy to paint a picture of the horror and brutality experienced and witnessed daily by the people of El Salvador in 1980.  Indeed, why should we keep looking at that fateful year 33 years later?  And why look at events in such a tiny country in the middle of Central America?

 It is because El Salvador is a microcosm of our world; it is because what happened there, several decades ago, represents the worst and the best of humankind.  During my brief, but poignant 10-day visit last year with the SHARE-LCWR delegation, I was reminded over and over again of a monument I saw when I was a young student in Paris.  This is the Memorial of the Deported Martyrs behind Notre Dame Cathedral on Ile de la Cité.  This memorial was dedicated in 1962 to the 200,000 Jewish people deported during WWII, handed over to the Nazis to be used, abused and thrown away.  You descend the stairs to the entrance to this memorial.  Inside a small room, you view a long tunnel-like structure with the names of the deported and with a light symbolizing each life.  As you leave, etched in stone over the doorway, are the words: “Pardonne;  N’oublie pas…”  “Forgive;  Do not forget…” Read More »


SHARE Visits a Local Farmer’s Market

December 13, 2013

Farmers Market

The Local Market in the UCRES Region

Every 15 days, local farmers and artisans come together to sell their produce and simple crafts in the UCRES region of La Cabaña, just north of El Paisnal. You can find most anything at this colorful market, including: homemade candies, limes, homemade cheeses, cream, papaya, pineapple, spinach and other greens, loroco, squash, green peppers, ornamental plants, and a variety of fabric crafts, such as small thin towels called mantas, used for storing hot tortillas. An assortment of food is also available for purchase: coffee, homemade pastries, pasteles, and a cinnamon, rice, and milk snack known as arroz con leche.IMG_1909

Many of the women who participate in the farmers’ market received training in agricultural techniques and small business practices through SHARE’s partnering organization, UCRES.  The 2013 women’s empowerment project, supported by SHARE’s Grassroots Partners, provided opportunities for women to learn to plant and manage their own home vegetable gardens, among many other skills.  FECORACEN, a local agricultural cooperative affiliated with another SHARE partner, CONFRAS, facilitated workshops on organic fertilizers, garden set-up and management, soil types, and vegetable types and diseases.  

Rosa Delia Pinto

Rosa Delia Pinto

Rosa Delia Pinto from San Antonio Grande was kind enough to share her experience as a vendor in the farmers’ market and participant in the garden workshops.  Aside from tending her small garden, in which she grows eggplant, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, green peppers, green onions, jicama, and jalapeño peppers, she is also very active in local organizations.  She serves as the legal representative for the local women’s association, is a member of the Nonviolence Committee, and a literacy promoter with MINED (the Ministry of Education) in San Antonio Grande.

(This project) has helped us immensely … even though it’s a small amount (that we sell in the markets) we almost always sell everything,”  Rosa sells pineapple, loroco, homemade cheeses and cream, and arroz con leche at her small stand.  She makes the cheese and cream herself from fresh local cow’s milk that she gets from El Verdío, a small community nearby.  

Rosa’s story is just one small testament to the impact of regional women’s projects in El Salvador.  SHARE is looking forward to continued support for 2014 projects, including additional home vegetable gardens in the UCRES region.  Consider supporting women’s empowerment in El Salvador by purchasing a solidarity gift or making a donation.

 

Reflection from a Saint Patrick´s Delegate

December 11, 2013

 This is a reflection written by Debi Covert-Bowlds, a delegate from the St. Patrick´s parish in Seattle, Washington. The small group of five came in mid Novemember to learn more about their sistering community in Chalatenango called Nueva Trinidad.

 

(From Left to Right) Catalina, Betty, Debi and Chris at the 24th Anniversary of the UCA Martyrs Vigil.

(From Left to Right) Catalina, Betty, Debi and Chris at the 24th Anniversary of the UCA Martyrs Vigil.

Since we’ve returned from El Salvador, the people of  our sister community Nueva Trinidad dominate my dreams, as if part of my spirit continues to dwell with them.  I continually think of the people of this dear country, proud that they are standing up to the Archbishop, who closed down the human rights office of Tutela Legal that was entrusted with 50 thousand case files of victims of the war, demanding the files be released to the care of the victims’ families; that they have marched to demand justice for Pro-Busqueda (Pro-Search), which was terrorized by armed gunmen who torched the case files used to find children who were disappeared and sold into adoption internationally by military officials; and that the people continue to push the judicial system to nullify the Impunity Law, so that these cases can be tried, justice is upheld, reparations are made, and historical memory is emblazened in public record.

 I carry in my heart the suffering of the people, especially made real when I placed my fingers in the bullet holes in the hefty metal doors of the Church of the Rosary in San Salvador, doors  riddled by the military massacre of citizens calling for justice and democracy.  I felt I was placing my fingers into the wounds of the crucified Christ.  I am grateful for the 21 years St. Patrick’s Catholic Church has been gifted to accompany, build and deepen our relationship with Nueva Trinidad, advocating for justice alongside these dear sisters and brothers for their beloved country.  I learned that the international voice of solidarity  is a key component of hope for the Salvadorans, and their fear is we will abandon or forget them.  I returned with a deeper understanding that our commitment in this relationship is a joy as well as a responsibility.  I carry with me the importance of continuing to learn from and encourage one another in this sistering relationship, grounded in a deep spirituality that bears our hope.

 

 


Falling in Love: A SHARE/VMM Volunteer Reflection

December 9, 2013

This is a reflection written by Katy Stader, the Delegations Coordinator for SHARE, and whose position is also funded by VMM (Volunteer Missionary Movement), an organization that supports volunteers to accompany the people of Latin America in their process of development and fight for justice. 

I have fallen in love. I am head over heels, knee deep, someone-please-pinch-me, in love with El Salvador. However, my relationship with El Salvador has not played out like a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan, instead it has challenged my emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual self. I have hiked mountains, made hundreds of tortillas, been threatened by gang members, interacted with priests, farmers, preschoolers, mayors, doctors, the homeless, waded through floods, slept in hammocks, drank corn coffee, played futbol in the rain, hugged mothers with missing sons, held newborns plagued with disease, jumped off buses, danced salsa, and much more. Sometimes I really do have to pinch myself as a reminder that this is my life.

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Rosibel, whom I consider to be my Salvadoran mother, is forever telling me to take deep, intentional breaths. She is my Salvadoran Thich Nhat Hahn. “Hay que cerrar los ojos, pero bien bien pegaditos, e imaginar tu lugar tranquilo…You have to close your eyes, but really really close them, and imagine your relaxing space,” she tells me, whenever I run off to visit her in Chalatenango and to escape the chaos of San Salvador. “But my happy place is here, “I explain.  “That is because you are loved here,”  Rosi always says.

My love relationship with El Salvador is real.  It is tangible. It is life-giving. And it is something I will carry in my heart with me always. But my service in El Salvador as a volunteer missioner is in its final stretch.  Once back from a (much needed!) holiday break in December, I will only have six months left. And just like the end of any love relationship, I will be emotional, uncertain and looking for comfort.

I need to remember Rosi´s advice.  I need to take more deep breaths. I need to trust that wherever life takes me, I can fall in love and be loved in return.  


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Salvador Sánchez Cerén: From Guerilla Commander to President?

December 6, 2013

Salvador Sánchez Cerén is a Salvadoran politician, one of original founders of the leftist party, Frente Farabundo Marti (FMLN), and the dissolved political-military organization, Fuerzas Populares de Liberacion “Farabundo Marti” (FPL).  He is the FMLN’s presidential candidate for 2014, with VP candidate Oscar Ortiz.

He was born in the city of Quetzaltepeque on June 18th, 1944.  Quetzaltepeque has indigenous origins and literally means “the quetzal’s (colorful bird) place”. Sanchez Ceren comes from a large, working family.  He grew up with twelve brothers and sisters, his mother and father.  His father was a carpenter by trade, and his mother was a market vendor. He went to primary and secondary school in Quetzaltepeque, at Centro Escolar Jose Dolores Larreynaga.

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Sánchez Cerén worked as a teacher, after graduating from the National Teaching School Alberto Masferrer in 1963.  On June 21st, 1972, he founded the National Association of Salvadoran Educators (ANDES 21 de junio). In 1992 he was elected as an FMLN parliamentarian, and then re-elected in both 2003 and 2006 as the Chief of Party. In September of 2007, he was nominated vice president, and won the campaign alongside current president Mauricio Funes.

Once vice president, he took position as the Minister of Education. As Minister, he was best known for his school uniform and cup of milk programs, that provides every student through the 9th grade with a uniform, two pairs of shoes, and a daily glass of milk.  But in June of 2012, he renounced his position as minister, and announced his candidacy for the 2014 Presidential Elections. His running mate is Oscar Ortiz, the popular former mayor of Santa Tecla.

Sánchez Cerén and Ortiz have a very clear platform: to continue with positive changes for El Salvador. They speak of a country of hope, change, and opportunity for its people. The majority of the FMLN platform focuses on education, economic development and violence prevention. Sanchez Ceren wishes to generate more jobs, stimulate the public-private sector, and support small and medium-sized businesses. He is also committed to strengthening Salvadoran agriculture, fighting crime, defending the constitution, and to governing with honesty, integrity, austerity, ethics and efficiency.

 

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