The SHARE Blog

Archbishop Closes Historic Human Rights Office

October 1, 2013

Yesterday Salvadoran Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas ordered the closure of Tutela Legal, the Archdiocese´s human rights legal aid office, started originally by Monseñor Romero. The members of Tutela Legal have fought tirelessly for human rights in El Salvador, and Tutela has been a SHARE partner since the early eighties. STAY TUNED FOR ACTION ALERTS!!!

Protesters outside Archbishop's office on Tuesday morning.

Protesters outside Archbishop’s office on Tuesday morning.

During Monseñor Romero´s time as Archbishop, he maintained the doors to the Archdiocese open to everyone at all times, especially the poor and defenders of human rights. In contrast, today, when representatives of a variety of human rights organizations and Christian Base Communities arrived at the offices of the Archdiocese to inquire about the closure of Tutela Legal, the security guard threatened to shoot the seven that entered, and slammed the gate shut in the face of the group gathered outside.

Yesterday afternoon civil society responded with shock and indignation to the news that Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas ordered the closure of Tutela Legal, the Archdiocese´s human rights legal aid office. Tutela Legal has represented many important cases of human rights violations during the civil war at the national and international level, including the El Mozote Massacre, Monseñor Romero´s assassination, and the Sumpul massacre. Tutela Legal also coordinated community organizing work, human rights trainings for churches, and represented current cases of human rights violations, like the Record Car Battery Factory Case.

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Stop Mining in El Salvador!

September 29, 2013

New Law Proposed by Mesa Nacional Frente al Mineria

"We demand approval of the Law that Prohibits Metallic Mining"

“We demand approval of the Law that Prohibits Metallic Mining”

On Tuesday, September 17th the Mesa Nacional Frente la Mineria Metalica (MESA), or National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining held a public forum to unveil their new proposal for a law which will prohibit all forms of metallic mining in El Salvador.

Mining has ravaged the Salvadoran countryside since the early 1800s, polluting rivers for generations and displacing thousands of Salvadorans. Communities in rural El Salvador have had enough; El Salvador is the most vulnerable country to climate change in the western hemisphere, largely due to deforestation, which future mining would only exacerbate.

Metallic mining has the worst environmental track record of any type of mining. This method relies on the use of lethal chemicals to extract desired metals like gold, silver, and copper. The method proposed for mining projects in El Salvador uses two tons of cyanide to extract one ounce of gold.

The Mesa represents communities that are affected by mining and will present this new proposal to the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly on October 1st.

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Order of Capture for Ex-Minister of Public Works: A Step Towards Justice for Corruption!

September 26, 2013

ARREST WARRANT ISSUED FOR THREE FORMER GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS INVOLVED IN CORRUPTION IN THE CASE OF THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE DIEGO HOLGUĺN BOULEVARD, KNOWN TODAY AS THE MONSIGNOR ROMERO BOULEVARD.

The Monseñor Romero Boulevard connects San Salvador to Santa Tecla and Merliot

The Monseñor Romero Boulevard connects San Salvador to Santa Tecla and Merliot

Salvadorans across the country were outraged to learn that the construction of the Diego de Holguín Boulevard, recently re-named the Monsignor Romero Boulevard, which connects San Salvador to Santa Tecla and Merliot, cost the Salvadoran people nearly 100 million dollars. The extravagant price was due to the infamous corruption under the presidency of Elias Antonio Saca of the ARENA party, currently presidential candidate for the UNITY party. 

Following the installation of the new Minister of Public Works, Gerson Martinez, under the Funes administration in 2009, the ministry conducted an investigation of the case and presented evidence to the Attorney General’s Office to proceed with their investigation. After a long silence, just over a week ago news broke of the capture of eight individuals involved in this case, including former Deputy Minister of Public Works, Sigifredo Ochoa Gomez and the former Minister of Public Works, Jorge Nieto, who was the main actor implicated as responsible. The Attorney General´s office issued the arrest warrants.

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Power in Community Living: Reflections from a Former Delegate

September 20, 2013

Daniel currently serves as the Earl Hall Religious Life Fellow at the Office of the University Chaplain at Columbia University. Daniel was ordained at UCC Salem this August. In June he accompanied the youth delegation from UCC Salem.

Many of the people with whom we met through the partnerships with SHARE were organizing themselves in order to achieve specific community-based goals.  Whether a community was petitioning the government to replace a bridge or an organization was trying to pass legislation to oppose hate crimes, the people we met were deeply committed to the power that an organized community can have over and against massive institutions.

UCC SalemDelegation

UCC Salem Delegation

I saw direct connections to this belief and liberation theology, where God is understood as being with the poor and the Kingdom of God is an earthly attainable sense of justice to be reigned in by the people.  Too often I let my own theology react to the world.  What I saw in El Salvador was a beautiful theology to which the world was reacting.  God’s people are tasked with the responsibility of creating justice, and the people we met were embodying and living that theology out.  

I was so heartened and blessed by the examples of local sustainable community living out a belief in organizing for justice.  I feel I better understand how to encourage and take part in similar movements within my own communities.  I better understand what God is expecting of God’s people.  I better understand what God calls me to, having seen the lived theology in El Salvador.


Fruit Trees for a Sustainable Future

September 19, 2013

DSC00608

Dozens of children, one thousand fruit trees, and a whole lot of dirt made for one very messy Tuesday afternoon at the El Maneadero School in the southern region of La Paz, El Salvador. Why all the commotion? SHARE’s partnering organization, CONFRAS, was teaching children, their parents, and teachers to plant and care for their new school yard orchard.

With the generosity of our donors SHARE supports communities in El Salvador to combat childhood hunger by providing funding for students, parents, and teachers to plant 1,000 fruit trees.

Why are these trees so important? According to the World Bank over 40% of children in El Salvador are undernourished and children in rural areas are twice as likely to suffer from malnutrition as children in urban centers.  These breadnut, or “ojushte”, trees produce nuts that are rich in calcium, protein, and vitamin B.

In addition to these important nutrients the parents and students who learn to care for these trees gain valuable skills that can help them start orchards of their own.

“(Breadnut trees) are important because we need to always be thinking about climate change and food alternatives–not just for humans, but for animals too,” Explains Salvador Castillo, one of the agricultural technicians for CONFRAS, “The leaves (of the breadnut tree) can be a source of food for livestock.”

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NO MORE VIOLENCE- September 11th Caravan against Military Intervention in Syria

September 16, 2013

 

Photo taken at the Caravan protest against U.S. Military Intervention in Syria this past Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013
Photo taken at the Caravan protest against U.S. Military Intervention in Syria this past Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013

Since President Barack Obama´s controversial announcement that he would seek congress´s approval for a targeted military strike on Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons against civilians, people around the world have lifted a call for peace. In El Salvador, communities, churches, NGOs, universities and activists have organized a variety of actions in solidarity with the people of Syria and against military intervention, including a caravan in protest of military intervention on September 11th.

The Salvadoran people suffered a brutal, twelve-year long civil war, prolonged and intensified by an average of one million dollars per day in United States military aid . The horrible atrocities  civilians suffered left wounds the government has done little to address and people still struggle to heal. Many victims continue to speak out for truth, justice and reparations. The horrors of war and the impacts of U.S. intervention compel many Salvadorans to protest military interventions as well as to act for peace.

Activities to express solidarity with those suffering in Syria have included prayer services at many churches, from the UCA Chapel to the Crypt in the Cathedral, to the Emmanuel Baptist Church, t.v. and radio interviews, discussions led by professors on the effects and ideals of a “war for peace,” a Eucharist followed by a brief discussion, an ecumenical ceremony of prayer held by the Palestinian community, and the aforementioned caravan protest.

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“Literacy is both a challenge and something we owe to our people”: International Day for Literacy

September 12, 2013

On September 8th, the Salvadoran Ministry of Education celebrated the International Day of Literacy at an event highlighting the success of the National Literacy Campaign. This initiative has reduced illiteracy in El Salvador from 18% to 12% and will continue promoting literacy until at least February of next year.

Angelica Paniagua, National Literacy Coordinator

Angelica Paniagua, National Literacy Coordinator

Angelica Paniagua, the national director for the literacy campaign addressed the crowd of hundreds of volunteers involved in the campaign. “Illiteracy is a challenge that all of El Salvador will face until completely resolved.  Because until all of our adults, youth and children can read and write, we will not have justice and freedom,” expounded Paniagua, “Literacy is both a challenge and a something we owe to our people. It is a means of communication, social expression and it is a part of our culture.”

During the event, an older woman from La Palma, Chalatenango shared her story of learning to read and write. “My goal has always been to become a teacher.  But first I needed to learn how to read and write.  I am so thankful for the classes I have received.  Someday I will reach my goal,” she read with pride. Another guest at the table of honor was a fourteen-year old volunteer. He is responsible for teaching forty-six adults in La Hermita, San Miguel. Not only did he express how committed he is to the literacy campaign, but most importantly to his community.  “The best part is hearing their stories.  If we are an educated community, it is less difficult to trick us,” he said.   Read More »


New Women’s Attention Center: Transforming Police’s Treatment of Women

September 7, 2013

1236715_10151845782219301_1624469749_nThis morning in Apopa, ORMUSA, the United Nations, USAID, and the National Civilian Police (PNC), inaugurated the fifth UNIMUJER (Women´s Attention Unit) in El Salvador. This unit will give special attention to women and their children who are victims of violence in the northern part of San Salvador. Six Apopa PNC members have been specifically trained to address these particular cases and the PNC as a whole is receiving training with regards to gender equality within the Salvadoran justice system.

The Special Law for a Life Free of Violence Against Women, passed November 25th, 2010 through the initiative of various women’s rights organizations, including ORMUSA in coordination with women legislators, requires various government institutions to install women’s attention units. ORMUSA helps provide training for a variety of government officials.SHARE has long supported ORMUSA (Organization of Salvadoran Women) and their push for holistic attention for women who are victims of violence and hate crimes.

Visit our facebook page to see more pictures!


The Victims Call for a Day to Honor the Detained-Disappeared

September 4, 2013

Mesa Promemoria 

Friday August 30th, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers with relatives detained and disappeared during the armed conflict gathered with representatives of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission (PROMEMORIA) at the Monument to Truth and Memory for a press conference to demand that the Legislative Assembly declare August 30th the National Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearance. Since 1996, the member organizations of PROMEMORIA have advocated for a day in honor of the victims of forced disappearance, which was one of the recommendation of the 1993 Truth Commission Report. The first time a decree marking August 30th as the National Day of the Detained and Disappeared went to vote, one of the congresswomen from the ARENA party ripped the document to shreds in front of the victims and the entire Legislative Assembly.

Nevertheless, the victims continue forward with this lucha. The press conference, attended by a variety of media (see below for links to articles and an excerpt from the press release), was just one of several actions PROMEMORIA is taking to promote this moral reparation. They hope to meet with the Legislative Assembly Commission on Education and Culture in the next two weeks. We will continue to gather signatures for our petition to support them through the end of this week. Please sign and share!

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Community Dreamers

August 30, 2013

Alexandra and Yésica in front a painting of Father Rutilio Grande

Alexandra and Yésica in front of a painting of Father Rutilio Grande

SHARE El Salvador Solidarity Coordinator Sarah Hall recently had the opportunity to join the monthly assembly of SHARE High School Scholarship students in the UCRES region of Northern San Salvador. Students came together for dinámicas (ice breakers), discussion groups, and social analysis on an early Sunday morning.

Through this scholarship program twenty-two high school youth receive a monthly stipend to cover the cost of transportation, books, and school supplies and attend monthly workshops or assemblies where they discuss gender equality, violence prevention, and the national reality.

Students wake-up by playing dinámica (icebreaker)

Students wake-up by playing dinámicas (icebreakers)

SHARE sat down with two of these students, Yésica Arely Hernandez, age 16 from the community Ita Maura, and Alexandra Gonzalez Hernandez, age 18 from the community William Fuentes, to discuss their lives, goals, and experiences as high schoolers in Northern San Salvador.

It didn’t take long for both students to mention their experience with the violence in Northern San Salvador. Even with the gang truce they shared that many students still plan their schedules and activities to avoid being out of their communities after dark.

“When someone leaves the community, they don’t know if they’ll get home okay or if something might happen to them.  It’s a consequence of the insecurity,” Yésica explained.

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