The SHARE Blog

Guatemalan General Found Guilty of Genocide

May 14, 2013

“As a human rights organization, and relatives of victims of human rights violations, we are so happy to hear of the outcome [of the Ríos Montt case].  It is just one small step in the process to bring to justice so many military officials who committed grave human rights abuses against our people in Central America.  The verdict shows that justice doesn’t spare anyone, even those military officials who thought they would never be tried for their crimes.  This precedent stands at a global level as an example.  There is no reconciliation without justice. Thank God that justice is being done.” Madre Guadalupe, CODEFAM

The Verdict: Guilty for the death of 1200 people

The Verdict: Guilty for the death of 1,771 people

While campesinos in the Salvadoran countryside fought for their rights, a beloved priest held communion beneath the gaze of gunpoint, and every step toward freedom coincided with another life taken, a similarly haunting war raged in Guatemala. From 1960 to 1996, an estimated 200,000 people were killed or disappeared in Guatemala, with impunity blocking justice at every turn. Until recently, little progress had been made in punishing those guilty of the murders, tortures, and other human rights abuses carried out during these three decades. In a historical decision made on Friday, May 10, 2013 a three judge Guatemalan court convicted the former military dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt, for genocide and crimes against humanity. The court found him guilty for the massacre of 1,771 Mayan Ixil people, sentencing Montt to 50 years in prison. This verdict marks the first time a former head of state was found liable of genocide in a national court. The decision is a great victory for the movement for truth and  justice for victims of human rights abuses around the world.

For the full story, read this news brief.

Youth Scholarship Updates

May 10, 2013

Glendy, an UCRES scholarship recipient, hopes to become a doctor one day.

On Sunday, April 26th, around 30 bleary-eyed students wandered into the UCRES offices in Aguilares, El Salvador. After about 20 minutes and a little bit of coffee, the volume of chatter rose in the assembly room. Another UCRES scholarship student assembly was underway.

After a formal introduction and greetings from UCRES team members Santiago and Alfonso, students shared their community work plans with their peers. Students in Las Arenas will help their community by organizing a street cleaning campaign and will plant trees throughout the community to revitalize green spaces. Other groups will present their youth committee’s workplan for 2013, and all are encouraged to share their plan with their respective community councils. Read More »

Unafraid and Unapologetic

May 7, 2013


Undocumented youth are leading the way to change

Within the current immigration battle in which the lives of approximately 11 million immigrants will drastically change, it seems there are two entities with differing perceptions of what undocumented people need in order to be recognized as full members of society. There are those who believe in conforming to whatever bill is released in the belief that it will be as good as anything currently present. Then there are those who believe that we have to keep fighting for a bill that will truly encompass the ethical meaning of being a human being.

Statistics show that 70% of voters support a Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and after several battles there have been wondrous changes for undocumented communities:

  • On June 15, 2012 President Obama announces Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that will allow a pool of approximately 1.2 million undocumented youth to be deferred from deportation
  • Just last month the Associated Press officially dropped the “i word” (illegal)
  • States like California, New York, Colorado, and Oregon have enforced state bills that allow undocumented students to pay in state tuition vs. paying outrageous out of state tuition fees
  • Undocumented people, young and old, have joined forces and declared themselves, “UNDOCUMENTED UNAFRAID AND UNAPOLOGETIC” Read More »

In the Face of Fear

May 3, 2013


Guadalupe Mejia is easy to be around. She greets you with a smile, and with gentleness and humility, she shares her stories: the tumultuous years of war and bitter poverty that lasted far too long, her own experience as a mother who lost her spouse during the armed conflict, the more than 8,000 disappeared still unanswered, and the Salvadoran struggle for justice amidst oppression.

“I want to tell you that the fear was the same, but we didn’t have a choice because they were taking our loved ones. We had to act.”

Read More »

The Theory of Education and Literacy of Paulo Freire

April 25, 2013

“I didn’t understand anything because of my hunger. I wasn’t dumb. It wasn’t lack of interest. My social condition didn’t allow me to have an education. Experience showed me once again the relationship between social class and knowledge.” –Paulo Freire 

The Salvadoran Ministry of Education is leading the literacy campaign. Source:

The Salvadoran Ministry of Education is leading the literacy campaign to free 500,000 more from illiteracy.

Freire’s concept of education and literacy is about people becoming aware of their power together to overcome oppression. When you are oppressed, you cannot perceive clearly the order that serves the interest of the oppressors. Freire’s perception of humankind and oppression is key to understanding his method of consciousness-raising. A traditional view  perceives humans as moldable and adaptable objects. His proposal sees humans as subjects, independent beings, able to transcend and recreate reality. Consciousness is determined by the socio-economic and political context. Freire identifies three levels of consciousness: Read More »

Singing for Peace and Freedom

April 22, 2013

Marina, Patricia, and Bethany continue on to Boston, MA and the the Pacific Northwest Coast on the Tour for Truth and Justice for El Salvador this week, join them by attending an event! If you are not able to attend an event, we invite you to watch the video below to gain a better perspective on the Pro-Historical Memory Commission and the Campaign for Truth, Justice, and Reparations through poetry, and song, and interviews.

Tony Saca: Past, Present and Future?

April 20, 2013

This is the first post in a three-part series introducing the three main candidates, representing GANA, ARENA and the FMLN. Nine months remain until February 1st, Election Day, when volunteer elections observers will join SHARE to ensure a free and just elections process for El Salvador in 2014. *** First up on our list, GANA! 

Former Salvadoran and ARENA president, Tony Saca, has officially launched his campaign for the 2014 elections as candidate for the unity movement of three small right-wing parties: GANA, PDC and PCN. If elected, he plans to “govern with the Bible and the Constitution as guides”.

Despite disappointment at the end of his administration in 2009, Tony Saca appears to remain surprisingly popular.  His position with GANA may not win him the presidency, but it will definitely affect the 2014 elections.

Read More »

Rediscovering Roots: Benefits of Breadnuts

April 18, 2013

Sarah and Katy spent the day making food and touring the cooperative with everyone from the CIETTA community

Sarah and Katy spent the day making food at the CIETTA workshop

Have you ever had pancakes made with breadnut flour?They’re fluffy, sweet, and taste a little like chocolate.SHARE staff Katy Strader and Sarah Hall had the chance to try pancakes and other products made from breadnut, or ojushte, during a training session for farmers who are members of small agricultural cooperatives at CONFRAS, a SHARE partnering organization that represents 6,000 rural farmers, Center for Research and Transfer of Agro-Ecological Technology (CIETTA).

SHARE and CONFRAS are partnering together to implement a Fruit Tree and Women’s Leadership Project. This initiative will train 120 rural farmers and 75 high school students to care for over 3,500 cacao and 1,500 ojushte trees planted in agricultural cooperatives and schools. Local farmers and students receive technical training and continuing support from trained agronomists.

Maria Santos, a representative of the San Luis el Mañadero Cooperative

CIETTA hosted the first of two workshops for cooperative representatives today at their small institute near the Costa del Sol.  While it was certainly a hot day, the information and samples made up for the heat!  Katy and Sarah tried pancakes, horchata, atol, coffee and fruit salad, all made with breadnut flour.  Native Pipiles recognized the benefits of ojushte, gathering the nuts to add nutrients to their diet.  During El Salvador’s armed conflict, ojushte was consumed when corn was scarce, as its nutrient-rich profile encourages cultivation and consumption. For example, horchata made with breadnut flour is richer in calcium than a glass of milk. See the recipes for Ojuste Horchata and Ojuste Pancakes below!

Maria Santos, a representative of the San Luis el Mañadero Cooperative, explained how her family used to eat the breadnut as a staple of their diet:

Why did you attend the workshop on ojushte today?

I came because the workshop was to learn about how interesting the ojushte product is.  And since I have already received some training on elaborating and using this seed, I thought it would be very interesting to come because I know that everyone that would come today would learn about this product.  Because the reality is that this is found in our communities, but most people do not consider it important. But this product is nutritious.  And it is also sustainable when there is lack of other basic grains.  For example, in my community, when I was a young girl, my whole family used to eat it. We would collect it. We would eat it with lime and avocado and that was it. It was enough. It was sustainable.  We did not think of other things. We did not have beans or rice.  We had ojushte, lime, and avocado. That could be breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Read More »

Historic Memory: Trials and Triumphs of the Disappeared

April 12, 2013

Bethany and Marina with Professor Dina Berger and Dr. Elizabeth Marina y Betania con Elizabeth Lozano, Director of Latin American Studies at Loyola University in Chicago

Bethany and Marina with Professor Dina Berger and Dr. Elizabeth Lozano, Director of Latin American Studies, at Loyola University in Chicago

Marina and Bethany are in the midst of their U.S. tour promoting truth and justice for those who disappeared during the war. Join them this weekend in Chicago and  Milwaukee!

Saturday, April 13th

7:00pm, 8th Day Center for Justice and Chicago Interfaith Religious Leadership Network

Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL

Sunday, April 14th

6:30pm, Lake Park Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, WI

2647 N. Stowell, Milwaukee, WI


Read More »

El Salvador and Immigration

April 10, 2013

Liam Kelly traveled to El Salvador with The Northwest School in February 2013.  Here, he shares his experience in Arcatao, Chalatenango.

NWS in Arcatao_2013

Northwest students visit Arcatao.
Photo credit: Madi Jacox

Our visit to Arcatao was one of my favorite parts of the trip. What made it so special was the meeting that we had with leaders of the local parish. We had no set agenda or topic that we were going to talk about and the format quickly became an open discussion. We started by asking them questions about what happened in their town during the war, and they opened up about the bombing and killings that they had endured. It was amazing how open they were about such horrifying events that they had witnessed.

Read More »

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