The SHARE Blog

24th Anniversary Commemorating the UCA Martyrs

November 28, 2013

The large crowd walking through the UCA campus to honor the martyrs.

The large crowd walking through the UCA campus to honor the martyrs.

Saturday, November 16th marked the 24th anniversary of the massacre of the six Jesuit priests: Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín Baró, Segundo Montes, Joaquín López y López, Amando López, Juan Ramón Moreno, their housekeeper, Elba and her daughter, Celina Ramos at the University of Central America (UCA) in San Salvador. SHARE delegates from St. Patrick’s Church in Seattle joined thousands of others in the annual activities commemorating the martyrs. This year’s theme, “No hay justicia sin solidaridad compartida”, or, “There is no justice without shared solidarity,” truly conveys SHARE’s mission as well as the underlying goal of the sistering relationship St. Patrick’s has maintained for over twenty years with El Salvador, specifically Nueva Trinidad in Chalatenango.

Thousands of Salvadorans were accompanied by pilgrims and visitors from all over the world.  This strong international presence represented a fellowship and common understanding of the attendees:  El Salvador may very well be a tiny nation, but the significance of the UCA Massacre continues to be recognized on a global scale. People from around the world, like the St. Patrick´s delegation, come together in solidarity and love for the Salvadoran people. Although this day is marked with deep sadness and lingering anger at what transpired that day twenty four years ago, we celebrate the dedication and commitment to justice of these martyrs with joy and hope. Their memory inspires others who possess the courage to facilitate change and strive relentlessly for a better reality for the Salvadoran people.

The St. Patrick´s delegation enjoying the vigil, commemorating the UCA martyrs.

The St. Patrick´s delegation enjoying the vigil, commemorating the UCA martyrs.

St. Patrick’s of Seattle, WA demonstrates the importance of solidarity through painful times. The parish of St. Patrick’s has been accompanying the Salvadoran people ever since the Sanctuary Movement began in the 1980s, which helped Central American refugees find a safe-haven as they fled atrocious civil wars. St. Pat’s sustains their relationship of mutual accompaniment by sending delegations to visit their sister community Nueva Trinidad. While providing spiritual, physical, and economic support to their Salvadoran brothers and sisters, the parish has continued to speak out against injustice in El Salvador and raise awareness in their region to encourage others to do the same. These important types of relationships that have historically been facilitated by

SHARE and other organizations help to strengthen the solidarity between the United States and El Salvador and deepen the significance of commemorating important events in history such as this one.


Press Release from ProBusqueda

November 21, 2013

The following press release was issued by PRO-BUSQUEDA on Thursday, November 14.

This morning at 4:45am, the PROBUSQUEDA Association was surprised by a violent act. Three armed men threatened the director of the institution at gun point when he arrived at the offices. The director himself was held at gunpoint and threatened until he call for the PROBUSQUEDA guard to open the door so they could gain access to the PROBUSQUEDA archives. The guard and president of the board were also attacked. After they were gagged and thrown to the floor the armed men proceeded to enter the specific rooms where the archives and documents are stored, they proceeded to damage the computers, douse the archives with gasoline, and light them on fire causing considerable damage.

La oficina de probusqueda.

La oficina de probusqueda.

It is important to emphasize that this violent act was intended to destroy specific documents as the armed men attacked units that were of vital importance to the work of PROBUSQUEDA, damaged computers with classified documents. In addition to destroying archives that are essential in the cases that have been presented to the justice system at the national and international level, they also destroyed the organization’s financial information.

Although the extent of the damage has yet to be determined, it has affected many things including DNA samples and the theft of data of families of victims of human rights abuses during the armed conflict. In addition, an employee of the institution was threatened the same morning. At 7:50am when she was on her way to work, a vehicle approached the bus stop where she usually waits for the bus, three men got out and followed her on foot until she found a taxi. She was still in a state of shock when she arrived at the office only to find the destruction described above. Read More »


From SHARE scholarship student to literacy promoter

November 19, 2013

Carlos Gomez Marinero, 23 years old

Carlos Gomez Marinero, 23 years old

From SHARE scholarship student to literacy promoter, the tireless work of Carlos Gomez Marinero is inspiring to say the least. Carlos was born in the community of San Francisco Angulo, San Vicente.

Since graduating from university in August of this year, Carlos has worked with CIDEP´s youth literacy program.  The program is directed towards youth between the ages of 12 and 18 who have left their studies for various reasons, such as economic instability forcing them to find work, living too far from appropriate schooling, gang involvement or exclusion from local census research which identifies people and communities of need. CIDEP, along with the Ministry of Education (MINED), CRIPDES, and the International Organization of Work (OIT), makes up the Literacy Alliance in San Vicente. The alliance has worked to liberate Salvadoran society from illiteracy since 2009. Carlos is a proud member of CIDEP´s regional team, and hopes to leave his impact on the campaign, “by creating common conscience and developing lives.”

Read More »


Probusqueda Office Ransacked by Armed Men

November 14, 2013

At 4:30am this morning in San Salvador, three armed men forced their way into the office of Probusqueda, a prominent Salvadoran human rights organization that searches for and reunites children who were forcibly disappeared during the civil war with their families.

Probusqueda office Wednesday morning.

Probusqueda office Thursday morning.

After the men attacked, tied up, and disarmed the security guard, they ascended to the second floor of the building, where Pro-Busqueda stored legal and advocacy documents, and burned archives containing police records that Probusqueda uses to search for lost children. They also stole two computers that held information concerning cases of the disappeared.

Probusqueda representatives disclose that this act has “sabotaged” their important archives. Victims and representatives of various human rights organizations and even Human Rights Ombudsman David Morales rushed to Pro-Busqueda this morning upon receiving the news. After inspecting the office, David Morales declared that all the evidence pointed to a planned attack with a clearly defined goal, as key organizational information was targeted. He also noted that the modus operandi of the attack mirrored attacks during the 1980s intended to indimidate human rights defenders.  The recent, abrupt closure of Tutela Legal makes this incident even more alarming.  

Pro-Busqueda is one of eight human rights organizations that constitute the Pro-Historical Memory Commission (PROMEMORIA), which SHARE accompanies in their work for truth, justice, and reparations for human rights violations during the war. Pro-Busqueda is the only Salvadoran human rights organization besides Tutela Legal to take cases of human rights violations to the Inter-American Human Rights Court and achieve a sentence against the Salvadoran government, with the case of the Serrano Cruz Sisters in 2006 and the Contreras y otros case in 2011. This April and May, Pro-Busqueda staff member and PROMEMORIA representative Marina Ortiz went on speaking tour with SHARE staff, visiting churches, universities, and community groups across the country.

Marina of Pro busqueda speaks with press

Marina Ortiz of Probusqueda speaks with press.

We invite you to stay tuned to the SHARE blog to learn how you can be in solidarity with victims of Human Rights abuses in El Salvador.


ACTION ALERT: Defend the People´s Will in El Salvador!


National Call-In Day to Congress – Friday, November 15th 

U.S. Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA), Mike Honda (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Jim Moran (D-VA) are now circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter to encourage other Representatives to sign on to a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding El Salvador’sFebruary 2 presidential election. The letter calls for the U.S. government to remain neutral, respect the election results, and work toward a positive relationship with whichever party is elected to the presidency. 
 
Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Albio Sires (D-NJ) – the chair and ranking member of the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – already sent a letter to Kerry discrediting the FMLN and UNIDAD candidates.
 
With campaign season in full swing in El Salvador, it’s urgent that Members of Congress and the State Department make it clear that February’s election is the decision of the Salvadoran people, not of politicians in Washington. 
 
You can be part of a national call-in effort to demand that the US respect the democratic will of the Salvadoran people! 
 
Call your US Representative TODAY to insist that s/he add his or her name to Rep. Vargas’ statement in defense of democracy in El Salvador. 
 
TAKE ACTION NOW!
1) Call the Congressional switchboard to be transferred to your Representative’s office: (202) 224-3121.

2) Ask to speak to the staff person in charge of foreign policy. If that person is not available, leave a voicemail.

3) Email solidarity@share-elsalvador.org so we can keep track of constituent calls and monitor the progress of this action.
 

Please use the following script:

• “My name is ___________ and I am calling as a constituent from [your city or town] to ask that [Representative’s name] sign on to a Congressional letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that has been initiated by Representative Juan Vargas. This letter calls for US neutrality with respect to the upcoming presidential election in El Salvador, and pledges that Members of Congress will seek a positive relationship with whichever party is elected. To sign on to this letter, please contact Aaron Allen at Representative Vargas’ office. His phone number is (202) 225-8045.”

•“This public neutrality statement is urgently needed. During El Salvador’s 2009 presidential campaign, various Republicans in Congress threatened to punish the people of El Salvador if they elected the opposition party’s candidate.  Fortunately, the Obama administration neutralized these threats by making a clear, public commitment to maintaining positive relationship with whomever the Salvadoran people elected. This was a welcome change from past administrations. It’s important that the State Department once again make this position clear well in advance of any attempts to manipulate or intimidate Salvadoran voters.”

•“Salvadorans, including those living here in the US who will be voting for the first time by absentee ballot, also need to hear a clear message from Congress that assures them they can vote according to their own free will, rather than in response to threats and manipulation from anyone in the US government.”

•“Thank you for your time, and I encourage [Representative’s name] to sign on to this important statement in support of free and fair elections in El Salvador.”
 

 

 


ACTION ALERT: Defend the People’s Will in El Salvador! National Call-In Day to Congress – Friday, November 15th


U.S. Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA), Mike Honda (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Jim Moran (D-VA) are now circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter to encourage other Representatives to sign on to a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding El Salvador’s February 2 presidential election. The letter calls for the U.S. government to remain neutral, respect the election results, and work toward a positive relationship with whichever party is elected to the presidency.

Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Albio Sires (D-NJ) – the chair and ranking member of the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – already sent a letter to Kerry discrediting the FMLN and UNIDAD candidates.

With campaign season in full swing in El Salvador, it’s urgent that Members of Congress and the State Department make it clear that February’s election is the decision of the Salvadoran people, not of politicians in Washington. 

You can be part of a national call-in effort to demand that the US respect the democratic will of the Salvadoran people! 

Call your US Representative TODAY to insist that s/he add his or her name to Rep. Vargas’ statement in defense of democracy in El Salvador. 

TAKE ACTION NOW!

1) Call the Congressional switchboard to be transferred to your Representative’s office: (202) 224-3121.

2) Ask to speak to the staff person in charge of foreign policy. If that person is not available, leave a voicemail.

3) Email solidarity@share-elsalvador.org so we can keep track of constituent calls and monitor the progress of this action.

Please use the following script:

• “My name is ___________ and I am calling as a constituent from [your city or town] to ask that [Representative’s name] sign on to a Congressional letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that has been initiated by Representative Juan Vargas. This letter calls for U.S. neutrality with respect to the upcoming presidential election in El Salvador, and pledges that Members of Congress will seek a positive relationship with whichever party is elected. To sign on to this letter, please contact Aaron Allen at Representative Vargas’ office. His phone number is (202) 225-8045.”

•“This public neutrality statement is urgently needed. During El Salvador’s 2009 presidential campaign, various Republicans in Congress threatened to punish the people of El Salvador if they elected the opposition party’s candidate.  Fortunately, the Obama administration neutralized these threats by making a clear, public commitment to maintaining positive relationship with whomever the Salvadoran people elected. This was a welcome change from past administrations. It’s important that the State Department once again make this position clear well in advance of any attempts to manipulate or intimidate Salvadoran voters.”

•“Salvadorans, including those living here in the US who will be voting for the first time by absentee ballot, also need to hear a clear message from Congress that assures them they can vote according to their own free will, rather than in response to threats and manipulation from anyone in the US government.”

•“Thank you for your time, and I encourage [Representative’s name] to sign on to this important statement in support of free and fair elections in El Salvador.”


Salvadoran Youth Combat Poverty and Develop Communities

November 12, 2013

Not everyone has access to the basic human right to write and read. In El Salvador many people suffer this injustice. Without the work of the Ministry of Education (MINED) and the various organizations working together to carry out the National Literacy Campaign, Salvadoran society wouldn’t be able advance towards the day when no student, adult or young person, has to give up schooling for reasons such as: being obligated to work due to economic conditions, living too far from local schools to attend, or lack of resources to afford materials and uniforms, among many other barriers.

Karen and

Karen showing her group’s work.

In 2009, FMLN President Mauricio Funes launched the national literacy campaign  “Si, Yo Puedo” or “Yes, I can”  adapted from both Cuban and Nicaraguan models that rely heavily on volunteers. A similar campaign was pushed previously under ARENA President Tony Saca; however, it operated on a much smaller scale and all employees were paid. The current program, which serves to provide a second chance for both children and adults deprived of education, only exists because of the tireless work the volunteers put in with few paid employees. The Ministry of Education hires only 26 promoters that are placed in each of the  departments and  oversee recruitment and training of volunteers who implement the literacy circles. Each municipality also has a local program in conjunction with MINED under the supervision of their Mayor’s office, which contracts its own promoters.

Read More »


Honduras: Intimidation in Upcoming Election?

November 7, 2013

This article, written by Eben Levey, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns intern for Central America issues, was first posted in their November/December newsletter. Levey will be participating in SHARE’s election observation delegation to Honduras this month.

On November 24, Honduran citizens will go to the polls to elect a new president. As the date rapidly approaches, there is much doubt that the current situation in Honduras will permit free and fair elections. From violence and intimidation to institutional impediments to justice, the closely contested presidential race will occur in a context far from conducive to democracy.

Honduran military police patrol in Tegucigalpa.  (Photo courtesy Karen Spring)

Honduran military police patrol in Tegucigalpa.
(Photo courtesy Karen Spring)

Since the military coup in 2009 that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya, Honduras has become one of the most violent countries in the world. As reported by CNN and NPR, San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in the country, has claimed the title of murder capital of the world for two years running. Yet much of the violence is far from random. The government that illegitimately replaced President Zelaya has embarked upon a course of militarization of police forces and criminalization of social protest, a course that has seen political opponents and social activists systematically targeted for prosecution, armed attacks, and assassinations.

In October, current President Porfirio Lobo deployed over 1,000 military members into the streets to act as law enforcement. These are forces that are trained to fight and kill, not to provide law enforcement. Furthermore, supervising the military police operations are individuals such as Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, widely known for human rights violations such as extra-judicial assassinations. Many in opposition to the current government have decried the militarization of the country as a tactic to intimidate social movements and civil society opposition to the current government. Read More »


“Juntas Somos Más”

November 4, 2013

Women at the Natonal Assembly cheering!

Women at the Natonal Assembly cheering!

On October 15th, The Alliance of Rural Women convened for the Third National Assembly, at the National University of El Salvador. Various organizations of women working for gender equality through education compose the Rural Women Alliance, including: the CCR, CRIPDES, CORDES, National Network of Women Leading Change (RMPC) , Research Institute for the Training and Development of Women (IMU) , Salvadoran Women’s Movement (MSM), Mélida Anaya Montes Association Movement (Las Mélidas), and AMSATI, a women’s agricultural organization within CONFRAS, the Confederation of Federations of Agricultural Cooperatives from the Salvadoran Agricultural Reform.

The assembly conveyed the power that rural women are gaining as they organize their communities and advocate for policies that will improve the lives of rural families. Rural women confront various threats in their communities, such as machismo, domestic violence, lack of opportunities to obtain jobs in the public sector, the lack of education regarding women’s rights and laws, as well as the complete lack of educational opportunities generally.

At the first Assembly in 2011, the women discussed the politics of gender equality and the importance of creating a space for female organization. In the second Assembly in 2012, the women presented specific policy demands to various government officials who signed commitments assuring positive change. However, the objective of this year’s assembly was to encourage women to embody an articulate front, and to demand answers from government officials who promised to facilitate dialogue between women and the Legislative Assembly. The absence of these government officials at the Third Assembly was a symbol of their failure to follow through on their commitments. Juanita, the women’s coordinator from the CCR, insists that the next step is to “transform these demands into real changes and to implement new public policy which is in favor of rural women”.

Read More »


Update on Women´s Attention Centers: A Life Free of Violence

October 30, 2013

On November 25th, 2010, The Special Law for a Life Free of Violence against Women passed, guaranteeing that unlike in the past, the thousands of femicide cases, physical abuse, harassment in the workplace, communities, and schools, would be addressed, not pushed aside as “cultural issues”. Prior to the passage of the law, El Salvador ranked highest for intentional female homicide in the world: 13.9 for every 100,000 women.

ORMUSA (Organization of Salvadoran Women for Peace), a longtime SHARE partner, recognized the severity of the violent situation women faced on a daily basis and decided to take action. “Women need to know that there are spaces for them to denounce these crimes,” explains Silvia Juarez of ORMUSA.  Although the femicide rate has only dropped slightly, the number of court cases and convictions concerning violence against women have increased. According to Juarez, this is because women are slowly learning their rights, denouncing these crimes, and most importantly, standing up for themselves.

Pamphlet explaining the importance of reporting crimes and describing the purpose of the Attention Centers.

Pamphlet explaining the importance of reporting crimes and describing the purpose of the Attention Centers.

Raising awareness of this law does not only mean educating the victims, but also ensuring that those that make up the justice system, ie., police officers, judges, social workers, etc, handle these cases appropriately. With the support of The Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and the Rachael and Ben Vaughan Foundation SHARE has supported ORMUSA in training police officers, social workers, and medical personnel in responding to women who are victims of violent crimes.

“We have been training police officers, building attention centers, and promoting gender equal policies for quite some time now. And finally we are seeing some results,” explains Juarez. Six Women’s Attention Centers have been constructed in different PNC (National Civilian Police) units throughout the country.  But ORMUSA will not stop there.  They plan on having ten centers in place before the end of the year.  And plan to have twelve centers by the end of 2014.

Read More »


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