The SHARE Blog

A Celebration for all the Madres!

June 4, 2013

Smiling faces and hearty embraces mixed with tears and raw memories lived on Friday, May 31st as over two hundred victims of human rights violations and human rights defenders joined the Pro-Historical Memory Commission and SHARE in a commemoration and celebration to close the International Week of the Detained and Disappeared, honor all of the Mothers of the Disappeared, and celebrate Madre Guadalupe´s 70th birthday. “Madre” Guadalupe Mejía is the president of the Committee of Family Members of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations (CODEFAM) and is considered by many to be the grandmother of the fight for human rights in El Salvador.

Held at the Museo Tecleño, the gathering brought together many friends united by their decades long struggle for justice and respect for human rights. The Museo Tecleño, once a detention center for political prisoners, now serves as a museum dedicated to historical memory and cultural education, a fitting space for a commemoration filled with pain, inspiration, gratitude, and hope.

Read More »

P3 law passes: What does this mean?

May 28, 2013

The Salvadoran Legislative Assembly passed the Public-Private Partnerships Law Thursday, May 23rd, with 83 of 84 votes. As one assembly member was absent for the vote, the law passed by consensus, meaning no parties opposed the passing of the law. Despite some resistance from the Salvadoran left and social movements, especially unions, the current public services that this law will open to contracts for management by private companies include ports, the airport, highways, and municipal services. Before agreeing to pass the bill, left-wing political party FMLN negotiated to ensure that some major public services are excluded from privatization, including water, education (particularly the national university), healthcare, the health insurance system for Salvadorans with formal jobs, and public security. While these exclusions are an important silver lining, Salvadoran social movements have reacted with outrage.“Public-Private partnerships continue the neo-liberal economic model where, once again, the state turns over public goods to private enterprise.”
– Isabel Hernandez, SHARE El Salvador

The United States was keen on this law passing in order to facilitate contracts for U.S. based corporations’ future business development and other international corporations’ investment to be carried out without facing any obstacles. U.S.-El Salvador ambassador, Mari Carmen Aponte, even threatened not to approve the next Millennium Challenge Corporation project funding, had the law not been passed. The fund focuses on coordinating public-private partnerships to enact mega tourism and development projects primarily along the coast in the Lower Lempa region. Read More »

Court Replay: Montt Decision Annulled

May 21, 2013

Efraín Ríos Montt will face witnesses and judgement once more. (source: NY Times)

Efraín Ríos Montt will face witnesses and judgement once more. (source: NY Times)

 Yesterday Guatemalan’s constitutional court overthrew the May 10th verdict that convicted former military dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt for the mass genocide of 1,771 indigenous Ixil Mayan people.

Guatemala’s civil war took about 200,000 lives from 1960-1996. During the 17 months General Ríos Montt remained in power, from 1982-1983, some of the greatest human rights violations and crimes against humanity were committed as a result of his orders.

Though Ríos Montt is widely believed to be responsible for the mass murder of the Ixil Mayans, the court annulled its decision on the basis that Ríos Montt lacked a defense lawyer on April 19th after his defense team walked out in protest against what they deemed “illegal proceedings”.

According to the court, the proceedings should have been suspended right then. Instead, during the span of a few hours, Ríos Montt rejected the court-ordered public defense lawyer and failed to retain a defense team of his own.

What does this decision mean for Montt’s trial?

  1. The guilty verdict is void, including the 80-year prison sentence.
  2. The trial is reset to whatever stood on April 19th: statements given before the April 19th hearing stand, but all testimonies and witness statements, as well as closing arguments, will be repeated.

  3. The legal battle is not over, and the final weeks of the trial will replay. Both sides are preparing for this next phase.

BBC News has an excellent article commenting on the turn of events here.


San Vicente Students Share their Challenges

May 17, 2013

On April 5th, 2013, the CRIPDES San Vicente team held their third scholarship student assembly with high school students representing various communities throughout the San Vicente region. Students had a chance to mix and mingle together before the assembly began. CRIPDES team members Amilcar and Esmeralda shared some of the advances of the team’s work in the region, before closing the assembly with a chance for a group photo and of course, passing out scholarship monies to students.

Students in San Vicente

Students in San Vicente

SHARE scholarship recipients Oscar Perez and Sandra del Carmen Alfaro sat down for a short interview. Both age 17, they shared the different community activities they participate in, as well as the challenges they face as youth.

Tell us about the activities in which you participate in your community.

Oscar: Well, I participate in some activities in my community, like in church projects, and in other activities, for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day.

Sandra: In my community, I participate in … well, when there are community meetings, they always look for me to read the minutes, and of course when there are festivals, I always support them too. Sometimes [the community] holds tournaments, and I always try to support them since I am a scholarship recipient, and [I also support my community’s] cleaning campaigns, and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations, International Women’s Day and Day of the Child.

What challenges do you face as a student, as a youth?

Oscar and Sandra talk about their time as students

“Our challenge is to be able to learn so much…to be a professional.”

Oscar: Our challenge is to keep studying, keep moving forward, earn a degree, and be able to learn so much … to be a professional.

Sandra: Our challenges are also to complete the tasks we have at hand, our homework, to follow our dreams. If we are studying, it’s because we want to excel, not just to go to school to spend the day or the afternoon with others. So, yeah, learn all that, and participate in and support the program.

What would you like to say to grassroots partners in the United States?
Oscar: I would like to thank you for the support you offer us, it is really a big help for those of us with scarce economic resources, it helps us cover many expenses that we would not normally be able to afford. Thank you!

Sandra: Yes, that’s our message!

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.

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