The SHARE Blog

Why should you go on a delegation?

August 18, 2013

UCC Salem delgates stand with El Socorro community members by the mural they painted together

UCC Salem delgates stand with El Socorro community members by the mural they painted together

“El Rosario was a metaphor of the country for me. There are bullet holes on the outside, but the inside is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. It represents a hopeful Salvadoran people.” -Cretin Derham Hall high school delegate

This Summer, SHARE led six Grassroots sistering delegations to El Salvador. An important aspect of SHARE’s sistering delegations is the community homestay.  Delegates experience Salvadoran life in a rural setting, learning how to make tortillas, playing soccer, and visiting with families.  Both delegates and community members come away from the experience with a new appreciation of another culture, and lasting relationships.

CRIPDES San Vicente hosted two delegations during the month of June.  Students and teachers from Cretin-Derham Hall spent 3 glorious days in El Sector Volcán, playing soccer, learning about what it means to be an organized community, and dancing the night away.

“I have learned that war is always terrible. It is never the answer.”Cretin Derham Hall high school delegate

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Sign the Petition to Declare August 30th the Day of the Disappeared

August 15, 2013

Today, August 15th, 2013 we celebrate the birth of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a man whose words and example continue to reverberate through El Salvador and the world. During his Sunday morning homilies as Archbishop, Monseñor Romero always gave voice to the names of the victims of forced disappearance each week. He spoke constantly for human rights, truth, justice, and love. He supported the COMADRES from the very beginning of their search for their disappeared loved ones.  The victims of human rights violations together with the organizations of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission continue to speak and act for justice today. One of the reparations they have called for since the 1990s is to have a day dedicated to the victims of forced disappearance, but they need our help to make it happen.

We invite YOU to take action in memory of Monseñor Romero: Sign a petition to call on the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly to declare August 30th the National Day of the Detained and Disappeared!

 

Declare August 30th The Day of the Victims of Forced Disappearance

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Reflections on Truth and Justice

August 8, 2013

The following post is written by Judy Swett, Associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Boston. Judy participated in the 2012 Honoring Women Religious Delegation to El Salvador and created and coordinated a committee to plan and host the Tour for Truth and Justice for El Salvador’s Disappeared during their time in Boston in Spring 2013. The committee greeted Marina, Patty, Eleazar (of Friends of COMADRES), and Bethany with Boston gift bags, were constantly prepared with water and envelopes, and had even done a trial run of the driving routes between events. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Judy and the entire Boston tour committee!

Patricia Garcia, Judy Swett, Bethany Loberg, Marina Ortiz, Sr. Lois Conner, Mary Rita Weschler, and Sister Claire Morrissey

Patricia Garcia, Judy Swett, Bethany Loberg, Marina Ortiz, Sr. Lois Conner, Mary Rita Weschler, and Sr. Claire Morrissey

The experience of hosting the 2013 Truth and Justice for El Salvador in Boston was deepening and transformative. Our goal was to support the Pro-Historical Memory Commission: a coalition of human rights organizations working for truth, justice and reparations for the grave human rights violations during and after the civil war in El Salvador. How so? By providing them settings in which they could plant seeds of truth in the hearts of those who came to learn.

 Stephen Pope, a theologian and professor at Boston College, was profoundly moved by the stories of Marina being torn from her mother’s arms and disappeared for 18 years; and Patty, who wanted to be a sister, being kidnapped twice, tortured and raped. When Pope turned to his class and said “Today we all have witnessed strong women with soft voices,” the room went silent as some of the students wept. Patty’s first person accounts of the brutal repression of poor women and children, was followed by accompanying her mother Alicia in search of disappeared family members. Her mother was a co-founder of the CO-MADRES, a group of women whom Archbishop Romero encouraged and supported as they organized to search for their disappeared loved ones, worked to free political prisoners and advocate fo justice.

From the perspective of the organizing committee in Boston, we all witnessed  the courage, conviction, and compassion that Patty and Marina, Bethany and Eleazar embody. Speaking for the Boston Tour committee we all agree there is more work to be done in the campaign for truth, justice and reparations in El Salvador and the U.S. We feel empowered and want to go forward with our sisters and brothers.


Action Alert: In Solidarity with Honduras

August 2, 2013

Since the 2009 coup, the situation in Honduras increasingly mirrors El Salvador in the 1970´s, with growing militarization, repression, and violent murders of activists and community leaders. In response to this growing crisis, the people of El Salvador and Honduras call for solidarity and accompaniment. SHARE partners CRIPDES and CONFRAS have been particularly active in promoting solidarity with Honduras. SHARE El Salvador is in a unique position to offer years of experience in solidarity. In the words of Marcos Galvez, president of SHARE partner CRIPDES: 

¨Las luchas (the struggles) that the Honduran people have faced before, during, and after the coup are similar to las luchas de El Salvador. As a people, we need to be in solidarity with other pueblos. El Salvador received solidarity during decades in which this marked the difference in preventing massacres, disappearances, political imprisonment, and other acts that could have happened. As Salvadorans who know the importance of solidarity, we call on the international community to accompany Honduras. ¨

Members of the CCR, a SHARE counterpart protest the ongoing repression in Honduras on the 4 year anniversary of the coup June 28, 2013

Members of the CCR, a SHARE counterpart protest the ongoing repression in Honduras on the 4 year anniversary of the coup June 28, 2013

While Hondurans face a variety of struggles that began long before the 2009 coup – many similar to those in present-day El Salvador: proposed mining and hydroelectric dams, access to land and credit, access to media, respect for women’s, LGBT, and indigenous rights, and youth repression to name a few – since the coup the government response to civilian organizing has been to send in the military.  Two recent incidents highlight the intensity of the current situation: the murder of indigenous community leader Tomas García during a protest of a hydroelectric dam on July 15th, and the kidnapping of two international accompaniers from the Honduras Accompaniment Project (PROAH) on July 25th.  

Take Action! Ask your representatives to end U.S. military aid to Honduras!

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Juan Carlos on Youth Leadership

August 1, 2013

Juan Carlos is a former SHARE Scholarship Recipient. He now co-coordinates CRIPDES San Vicente´s Youth Leadership Development and Scholarship Program. In addition to supporting local youth committees in their organizing work, this program provides scholarships for 56 high school students and semi-monthly workshops and assemblies where students gain leadership and community organizing skills. These assemblies and 21 of the scholarships are funded by SHARE Grassroots Partners. Below Juan shares his reflections on youth organizing and officially joining the CRIPDES San Vicente team:

Juan Carlos (San Vicente)

I became involved in youth organizing in 2009 when I started working with my community council, and then I participated in youth leadership workshops with CRIPDES, which helped me learn to get involved in my community, to express my opinion and respect others´ opinions.  The following year I took part in youth organizing as President of the youth committee in my community, a position I still hold today. We transformed the youth committee in my community. before the committee was very exclusive only some of the youth participated, but we starte sending invitations to all the youth.

It’s a pleasure to be part of the regional team at CRIPDES San Vicente, they are like family to me! I love sharing with the team and visiting the communities, making new friends. I have found that one’s experience, like mine, is incredibly important to share with the youth, because when youth are organized and involved in the community, it eliminates negative attitudes and bad habits. Instead they learn good habits.  Youth organizing uses community resources to improve the community. Youth can transform reality, we don´t have to wait for the adults.

“This is what youth organizing does: it creates a positive attitude in the community.”– Juan Carlos Portillo Hernandez, Youth Scholarship Promoter,  CRIPDES San Vicente

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Card Shower for Madre Guadalupe

July 30, 2013

On Sunday, July 14th, the Crypt where Monseñor Romero is buried

Madre Gudadlupe's daughter, Tula, carrys a picture of her mother at the Crypt where Monseñor Romero is buried.

Madre Guadalupe’s daughter, Tula, carries a picture of her mother at the Crypt where Monseñor Romero is buried.

overflowed with family and friends attending a Mass in honor of “Madre” Guadalupe Mejia. Madre Guadalupe was hospitalized on July 2nd after a severe asthma attack with bronchitis. She underwent operation on her trachea last week and her body is responding positively. Her doctors expect they will be able to take her off oxygen next week.

Madre Guadalupe is the President of the Committee of Relatives of Victims of Human Rights Violations (CODEFAM) and embodies a true symbol in the struggle for human rights, she is a source of courage and strength for all the victims she has worked with and is an inspiration to all who have heard her story. She has been gracious enough to meet with almost every SHARE delegation the last several years, as well as traveling to the U.S. on tour and serving as a board member of SHARE.

We invite you to join us in writing letters and cards and sending pictures to Madre Guadalupe, thanking her for constantly standing as a witness and voice for justice and expressing our wishes for her recovery.

Please send typed or scanned letters and photos in jpeg format to bethany@share-elsalvador.org by this Friday, August 2nd and we will print them out and create a small book of letters, notes, and pictures to give her animo in the face of this current challenge.

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Ricardo explores U.S. – El Salvador relations under the FMLN

July 24, 2013

Part three of an interview with CONFRAS’ Ricardo Ramirez, social organizer, marking 4 years of the FMLN administration. CONFRAS is the Confederation of Federations of Agricultural Cooperatives from the Salvadoran Agricultural Reform. CONFRAS connects federations of agricultural cooperatives throughout El Salvador, facilitating economic and social development for the members of affiliated agriculture cooperatives.

SHARE, CONFRAS, and The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation are partnering together to train 120 farmers and 75 school students in planting and caring for over 3,500 Cacao and 1,500 Ojushte trees in La Paz, El Salvador.

SHARE, CONFRAS, and The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation are partnering together to train 120 farmers and 75 students in planting and caring for over 3,500 Cacao and 1,500 Ojushte (Breadnut) trees in La Paz, El Salvador.

What changes have you witnessed regarding international relations during the FMLN leadership?

The only critique I have for this government is its alignment with U.S. policy. And we see that alignment in the fact that the current government did not want to enter into ALBA or PetroCaribe, until the last minute.  There has been an attempt to enter PetroCaribe, but as of yet that has not happened. All Central American countries have representation in PetroCaribe except El Salvador.  Maybe this is due to pressure from the U.S., I suppose it is, but it also could be just a decision Funes has made, thinking it’s not good strategy for El Salvador as a nation.  Since Funes’ entrance to power in 2009, the U.S. has threatened indirectly to keep El Salvador out of ALBA.  Think about this:  Funes takes power on June 1, 2009.  Just 28 days later comes a coup d’etat in Honduras.  It was a message for the Salvadoran left, saying “Calm down.  You can’t go any farther (toward deepening relations with Venezuela and Cuba).”

Of course, relations with the United States are understandable.  I don’t know if any left-wing revolutionary government could have more sovereign politics due to the fact that El Salvador’s dependency on the United States is greater than any other country in the region.  In economic terms, for example, 40 to 45% of El Salvador’s exports are imported by the U.S.  Only about 30% of El Salvador’s exports stay in the region, and about 15% ship to Europe.  Of all El Salvador’s imports, half comes from the United States, similar to the percentage of U.S. exports to other Central American countries.  However, in terms of migration to the United States, Salvadorans are one of the largest Latino migrant groups.  According to statistics from 2007, there are 2.5 million Salvadorans in the US.  That is to say, of every 3 Salvadorans, one lives in the US.  Their remesas (remittances) are a powerful injection for the Salvadoran economy.  2012 statistics show $4 billion dollars sent to El Salvador, nearly 20% of the country’s GDP.

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Is it Tacachico or Taca-chicas?

July 19, 2013

New Picture (8)

Travel to El Once involves a half hour ride on a wooden platform with wheels on the old train tracks, pulled by mule.

The women (chicas) of Tacachico are leading the charge with five Salvadoran organizations to promote public policies that will build gender equality in the municipality. San Pablo Tacachico in La Libertad, is one of the four municipalities where SHARE partner UCRES strengthens community organizing. Currently, UCRES is coordinating with CORDES, Plan International El Salvador, the Mayor’s office in Tacachico, and the Feminist Collective to formulate a municipal gender policy. The first step is to meet with all of the communities in the municipality, starting with the most remote ones like El Once, to map out current gender relations and needs in the communities.

The visit to El Once on Tuesday June 11th involved nearly three hours of travel: 1 hour and 15 minutes to Tacachico from San Salvador, then another hour’s drive from Tacachico and a half hour on a wooden platform with wheels on the old train tracks, pulled by mule. This form of cart, walking, and biking are the only forms of transportation in and out of the community. Representatives of all 5 participating organizations participated in the meeting, as well as the consultant hired to coordinate the process – which meant we were quite a crowd for the mule to pull.

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Honduras: Return to Repression

July 18, 2013

"Solidarity with the Resisting Honduran" A Salvadoran protester stands in solidarity.

“Solidarity with the Resisting Honduran” A Salvadoran protester stands in solidarity. Photo Credit: U.S. ES Sister Cities

June 28th marked the fourth anniversary of the military coup in Honduras – the first coup in Central America since the 1980s. Though mainstream media has kept Honduras out of the spotlight, the coup has had strong reverberations throughout Central America. In Honduras, the coup marked a return to militarization and repression as well as the awakening of the social movement.

On the 28th, SHARE joined Salvadoran and solidarity organizations in signing a press release decrying the systematic human rights violations and assassinations since the 2009 coup as well as the constantly increasing U.S. police and military aid. Since the coup, members of the military, police, and private security guards of major landowners, like Miguel Facussé, have assassinated over 206 social movement activists, including 104 campesino leaders from the Bajo Aguán, 59 lawyers, dozens of union leaders, teachers, LGBT activists, and 33 journalists.

What lead to this current crisis? So little information has made it into the media that few people seem to realize the intensity of the situation. In the U.S. in 2009 when the coup was mentioned at all, the media painted ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya as a power greedy politician seeking to change the constitution in order to remain president. The reality on the ground was much different. In her informative and moving reflection, Vocabulary Lessons, Dana Frank notes that Zelaya was “a member of the Honduran elite himself, had been democratically elected in 2005, and gradually inched leftward to ally himself with the other Left and Center-Left governments in Latin America, including those in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. When he pushed too far for many in his own party, the oligarchs and military leaders who had long ruled Honduras balked.”

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Madre Guadalupe in Recovery

July 10, 2013

Madre Guadalupe shared her story and her insight into human rights work recently with the UCC-Salem delegates. She stands with ___ at the Wall of Truth and Memory.

Madre Guadalupe shared her story and her insight into human rights work recently with the UCC-Salem delegates. She stands with a SHARE delegate at the Monument to Truth and Memory.

Madre Guadalupe Mejia suffered a severe asthma attack on July 2, and has spent the last week hospitalized in the ICU, but is now stable and recovering. She remains sedated and her health is improving hour by hour. Many have been praying throughout the week for Madre Guadalupe and we are hopeful about her recovery. There will be a mass in her honor at the Crypt in the National Cathedral at 10 am this Sunday, July 14, to pray for her recovery.

Madre Guadalupe is the president of the Committee of Relatives of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations (CODEFAM) and a member of the SHARE Board of Directors. Madre is considered by many to be the grandmother of the fight for human rights in El Salvador. She has been integral in the formation and process of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission in seeking truth, justice, and reparations for those who were forcefully disappeared and affected by the violence that occurred during the civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s. Madre meets with almost all of SHARE`s delegations to share her own testimony of loss and courage and the ongoing struggle for justice.

Over two hundred victims of human rights violations and human rights defenders gathered in May to in a commemoration and celebration to close the International Week of the Detained and Disappeared and to celebrate Madre’s 70th birthday and honor the mothers that lead the three committees of relatives of victims of human rights violations. It was a testimony to the lives Madre has touched and the people she has united through her compassionate spirit and generous work. We are all praying for for Madre’s health and stand with her in prayer while her strength returns and we invite you to join us. 


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