The SHARE Blog

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.

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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.

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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


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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.

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Blood on our Hands: SOA Watch

April 8, 2013

The  School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) is a activism organization that seeks to close the renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known the US Army School of the Americas, through nonviolent resistance. The US military center is responsible for training those responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent  civilians, including Monseñor Romero and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador. The SOA WATCH participated in a delegation to El Salvador in March, 2013. Delegate Lisa Sullivan reflects on their journey:

If ever there were a more compelling tale to provoke a stampede to shut the doors of the School of the Americas, it would be the tale of tiny El Salvador. As 25 of us discovered on a recent SOA Watch delegation there, even former  supporters admit: the time has come.

SHARE's Katy Strader and Sarah Hall with Father Roy, founder of SOA Watch.

SHARE’s Katy Strader and Sarah Hall with Father Roy, founder of SOA Watch.

The legacy of that school is etched in blood on the hearts and minds of Salvadorans, and on the walls, parks and pastures of their cities and towns. A wall in central San Salvador with 35,000 names engraved, most of them murdered by orders by  SOA graduates.  A makeshift cross under the shade of a conacaste tree where four bodies of US churchwomen were dumped. A garden where rose bushes grow on the spots where six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter were murdered by the SOA- formed Atlacatl Battalion.  A closet with the possessions left behind by Monseñor Romero, assassinated on orders of an SOA graduate. There are no shoes: Romero was buried in the only pair he owned.

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Martyr for Truth & Justice

April 2, 2013

On the 24th of March we commemorated 33 years since Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero’s assassination, our pastor, friend, and voice of the humble, the poor and oppressed.  Despite threats he continued to denounce the injustices and oppression that we were living until the death squads ended his life. They believed they were going stop the people’s struggle for justice and the establishment of a democratic system where human rights are respected, in which there is freedom of expression and a reduction in social inequalities.

IMG_3967However, history tells us this was not the case. The people rose up in the struggle in different moments, with twelve years of armed conflict, more than 75,000 assassinated, and thousands forcibly disappeared. In 1992, the Peace Accords were signed, which put an end to the conflict, opened spaces for political and social participation, created new institutions like the National Civil Police (PNC), the Human Rights Ombudsman, etc. The Truth Commission responsible for investigating the grave crimes committed during the conflict indicate in their report that those responsible for the assassination of Monseñor Romero were the death squads from the extreme right, composed of civilians and military men, commanded by Major Roberto D’Aubuisson (founder of the ARENA party) and Captain Álvaro Saravia.

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CONFRAS Defines Food Sovereignty

April 1, 2013

An interview with original CONFRAS founder, Miguel Aleman, and current CONFRAS president, Abel Nahin Lara Ruiz.

What is food sovereignty?

It is about food and land. We are capable of producing our own healthy food in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. And we want and need proper land to do so. We want to produce our own food. We want to take charge of our lives.

Yams and yuca

Yams and yuca are abundantly grown in cooperatives throughout the country

What does food sovereignty mean in El Salvador?

In El Salvador we import more than 85% of our food. What we produce we are sending away. Why are we doing this? Because the right wing government wanted us to be a commercial economy. Instead of people who can feed themselves fresh food, we feed ourselves fast food, soda and more junk.

Food sovereignty would mean producing our own food, eating our own food, and sharing our knowledge of land, crops, and liberation. Food sovereignty means fighting for the right to land. That is why the land reform was and is so important.

What are some examples?


Even pomegranates grow in El Salvador

CONFRAS is an example of course. But mostly what we are doing with our campesino to campesino program is a tangible way to see food sovereignty. We also just pushed for the government to recognize as an official day, the day the land reform was signed.

The international community has helped us a lot with this. Because of their support we have been able to diversify our crops. We now have entire families growing tomatoes, fruit trees, and other crops.

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El Salvador’s Disappeared Children: Marina’s Story

March 28, 2013

Marina Ortiz spent her childhood in a children’sMarina Ortiz shelter run by Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Salvador. Assuming her family had abandoned her, Marina grew up not knowing where she came from, who her family was, or even her own name.

Her life changed when Father Jon Cortina asked Pastor Miguel Tomas Castro, the pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church, for support to start Pro-Busqueda, an organization to search for children disappeared during the war. When Pastor Castro told him there were several children in the shelter whose families were unknown, Father Cortina visited the shelter. They realized that Marina and several other children had likely been disappeared during the war. In 1995, Marina filed a report with Pro-Busqueda.

Only a few years later, in 1997, Marina’s family contacted Pro-Busqueda looking for a little girl that fit her description. Following a search and DNA testing, Marina met her biological family for the first time.

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Monument Declared Cultural Property

March 25, 2013

Continue to join Salvadorans in standing for truth, justice, and reparations during the Promemoria Historica tour, featuring Marina Ortiz and Patricia Garcia of Pro-Historical Memory Commission and Bethany Loberg of SHARE El Salvador. They will be traveling to 14 U.S. cities from April 7-May 9, 2013.

The new blue and white emblem recognizes the monument as a cultural site protected by the International Treaty for the Protection of Cultural Heritage

The new blue and white emblem recognizes the monument as a cultural site protected by the International Treaty for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

When you arrive in Cuscatlán Park you cannot ignore the black granite wall edging the back of the property, solid and glittering with thousands of neat engravings. Upon closer inspection, you see the engravings are actually thousands of names, carefully inscribed, and faithfully remembered by the ones they left behind. These names on the Monument to Truth and Memory declare those who the government forcefully disappeared and killed during the Civil War.

On Friday, March 15th, Cunegunda Peña, Ana Cisneros, Dolores Hernandez, and dozens of other mothers, sisters, brothers, and grandsons searching for their disappeared family members gathered with solemn excitement for the official recognition of the Monument to Truth and Memory as Culturally Property of El Salvador. They joined members of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission and representatives of the Salvadoran Government, UNESCO, and the Inter-Institutional International Humanitarian Law Committee, who coordinated the declaration and placement of a large blue and white checkered emblem on the monument.

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Northwest Student stays connected to El Salvador

March 18, 2013

Northwest delegate Katie Lawrence shares her experience during the Northwest School’s delegation to El Salvador in February of this year.

 I traveled to El Salvador as part of a two-week delegation with my high school, The Northwest School.  I have been learning about the history of El Salvador for part of this year in Spanish class, specifically focusing on the civil war and the involvement of the United States in the destruction of their country.

Katie on the last night in Arcatao

Katie on the last night in Arcatao

This trip is a very special experience for me because I am not just learning about the history of a country, I am learning about the history of my biological family.  I was adopted by my parents when I was four months old, and I have always loved them and considered them my only family. However, I am still curious about my Central American family, and this delegation has opened up many realities that they could have lived. My biological father was born in San Vicente, El Salvador in 1975, fleeing the country as a teenager, due to the violence during the civil war. He lived in refugee camps in Guatemala before making his way to the United States. There he met my mother in California.  She was from Nicaragua.  This reflection is about some of my thoughts and feelings during the delegation.

I think this is one of the most important things I have ever done. My only other experience in Latin America was a trip to Guatemala, where I visited Guatemala City and Antigua, and worked in a hospital for the physically and mentally disabled.  That experience was different because I didn’t feel a direct connection to the people. I sympathized with the pain they had lived due to the United States (the massacre of many indigenous peoples), but the stories told to me here in El Salvador felt more like the story of my family and people.

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