The SHARE Blog

Former Salvadoran Colonel Montano Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court

September 15, 2012

Recently former colonel Inocente Orlando Montano, was charged with three counts of perjury and three other counts of immigration fraud this past Tuesday in the United States Federal Court. He was one of the alleged army officials accused of  the 1989 murders of six Jesuits priests. Montano pleaded guilty to all charges and can face up to 45 years in prison; his sentencing hearing will take place on December 18th.

Inocente Orlando Montano- September 11, 2012

Montano was indicted in Spain in 2011 along with 20 other army officials after being suspected as culprits in the deaths of the priests, a cook and her daughter at the Central American Unversity in El Salvador(UCA) . Based on his suspicion by a Spanish court of his involvement in the murders of the priests, Montano can still be subject  to deportation to Spain. A Spanish judge has already submitted a request to the U.S. government and a response is mending at the moment. 

This retired army colonel admitted to lying in his immigration application when filing for Temporary Protection Status in the U.S. by declaring that he was never involved in any activity with the Salvadoran army. Montano has also declared that he had no role in the slaying of the priest over two decades ago. 

It is believed that Montano had been living in the Boston area since 2001; a man who once held the highest military ranking in the Salvadoran army during its Civil War, worked at a Candy factory for years. Montano’s expenditure is still pending so far there is no word on the U.S. government’s decision. Keep reading on the story by clinking here. 


Nicaragua Withdraws Troops from SOA

September 14, 2012

The massacre at El Mozote is one of the many atrocities committed by SOA graduates.

In a historic decision earlier this month, Nicaraguan President Ortega announced that Nicaragua will be withdrawing its troops completely from the School of the Americas (SOA) now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. The Nicaraguan Government has been slowly withdrawing troops over the past decade, sending only five last year.  

In regard to the School of the Americas, President Ortega said: “The SOA is an ethical and moral anathema. All of the countries of Latin America have been victims of its graduates. The SOA is a symbol of death, a symbol of terror. We have been gradually reducing our numbers of troops at the SOA, sending only five last year and none this year. We have now entered a new phase and we will NOT continue to send troops to the SOA. This is the least that we can do. We have been its victims.” 

Over 64,000 soldiers have been trained the School of the Americas (SOA) since it’s founding in 1946.  SOA graduates have used their counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, to devastate the lives of thousands of Central Americans.

SOA graduates are responsible for the assassinations of Monseñor Romero, the six Jesuit Priests, the Four U.S. church women, the El Mozote Massacre, and tens of thousands of other ruthless murders of innocent people.

Read More »


Vice President Sanchez Cerén and SHARE receive awards from CODEFAM

September 11, 2012

This year marks the 31st anniversary of CODEFAM (Committee of Victims of Human Rights Violations). Founded by mothers of the disappeared, CODEFAM has advocated for the rights of family members of those who were murdered and disappeared during the civil war for more than three decades. Twenty-five of these visionary women were present at the event to celebrate their accomplishments and share their stories of sons and daughters who were taken from them.

SHARE El Salvador Field Office Director, Isabel Hernandez and Vice President Cerén accept awards from “Madre” Guadalupe Mejia.

Also attending this event were Salvadoran Vice President Sanchez Cerén and his wife, Margarita Villalta. Cerén reminded those in attendance that while CODEFAM has changed the course of history by bringing these atrocities to light, we all must continue to organize and fight for justice for those cases that remain in impunity, “May these acts never be repeated, these mothers have a right to justice.”

Cerén and SHARE El Salvador both received awards from CODEFAM for their support and long-standing commitment to social Justice. SHARE’s plaque reads,

 “The Committee of Victims of Human Rights Violations (CODEFAM) and the Child Development Center “CDI-Guanaquitos” presents this recognition to the SHARE Foundation in El Salvador for their unstoppable work in the most impoverished and oppressed communities in our country in support of children who, for many years, have benefited from their support and contributions to the development of the Children’s Development Center.”

“Madre” Guadalupe Mejia, the director of CODEFAM and member of the SHARE Board of Directors, was recently on tour in the U.S. educating people across the country about the work of CODEFAM and the Human Rights movement in El Salvador. This Spring, SHARE and CODEFAM launched a the Campaign for Truth, Justice, and Reparations for family members of the disappeared. 


From Floods to Droughts: Climate Change Continues.

September 7, 2012

This summer has demonstrated to be one the driest in the history of El Salvador, what with an average of 45 days with no rain. The regions of La Union, Usulutan, Morazan, and San Miguel are especially devastated as they have lost more than one million crates of corn.  The crops produced in these four regions account for 17% of the basic grains produced in El Salvador.

Last fall floods destroyed crops through out El Salvador, this year a drought threatens to do the same.

The possibilities for rain are present, according to the ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN). The country will be under the influence of El Niño and the affected regions can expect irregular rain showers  in the coming months of September and October.

For now the Salvadoran government is distributing  “agricultural packages” composed of corn seeds and extensive fertilizer. President Funes has announced that the situation is not dire as the rest of the national production of basic grains  remain on track and food prices are not expected to increase as a result of this drought.

Even so we hope that the rains coming to El Salvador are sufficient to revitalize agriculture in these affected regions. This is yet another reminder that we cannot survive without water. Read more about this situation here


“We can Live Without Gold, but We Cannot Live Without Water”

August 31, 2012

Earlier this summer the Executive Branch of the Salvadoran government released a Mining Suspension Bill which would temporarily suspend all mining activity in El Salvador. Although this is an active step towards environmental justice in the country, environmentalists argue that this bill does not permanently stop mining exploitation. President Funes has not granted any mining permits since 2009 but the withstanding years have not allowed the affected regions like San Sebastian and Cabanas to heal. It was in the same year that two of these companies, Pacific Rim and Commerce Group, sued the Salvadoran government for denying their gold mining permit. The contamination of the Salvadoran waterways has immensely diminished the quality of life for the people in many small towns, to the point where even the act of washing one’s hands is treacherous.

 Environmental advocates like The National Roundtable Against Mining  and the Water Forum continue to express their disapproval of the bill presented by the executive branch and support a bill called the “Special Law for the Suspension of Administrative Procedures Related to Metallic Mining”.  As the struggle to protect the rich soils and hundreds of flowing rivers in the country, international advocates from the New Economy Working Group recently visited El Salvador and provided a captivating recollection of their sights and experience while witnessing the destruction left behind by metallic mining activities. To read the full story click here.


Political Crisis in El Salvador Ends with the Election of Padilla

August 21, 2012

After various secluded meetings, political parties in El Salvador have finally reached an agreement, which elected José Salomón Padilla as the new President of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Chamber. Along with this jurisdiction the agreement also states that the magistrates whom were elected to the Chamber in 2009 are to fulfill their terms.  

To view more information about the constitutional ruling check out Tim’s El Salvador Blog

And to read  even more information check out the recent coverage provided by ElFaro


SHARE Invites You to Join Us on a Delegation

August 14, 2012

Join VMM-USA for a chance to meet two current missioners

and SHARE-El Salvador staff:  Bethany Loberg and Katy Strader

October 28-Novermber 4, 2012!

Cost: $750 per person

Accommodations, transportation, interpreters, and guide included

(not including airfare to San Salvador)

Down paymet of $200 due by August 31st

Contact VMM-USA office (414) 423-8660 to reserve your seat

For more information on becoming part of the delegation click here.

 

  


San Vicente Youth Scholarship Recipients Express their Gratitude

August 10, 2012

Through SHARE’s Leadership Development and Scholarship Program 25 high school students from the San Vicente region are continuing their education. Youth leaders receive financial support to cover the costs of transportation, school fees, and materials as well as leadership training. Students organize the youth in their communities and facilitate literacy circles, informal spaces for people to learn basic reading and writing skills, in their home communities. 

Scholarship recipients and their families from San Vicente

 

Students from San Vicente reflect on their lives as recipients of the scholarship and express the effect this has had on their lives, to catch their testimonials click here.


Communities Creating Justice: Fredy Gomez and San Francisco Angulo

August 3, 2012

While the El Mozote Massacre, Romero’s Assassination, and the Massacre of the Jesuits receive the most attention, tens of thousands of people were massacred, assassinated, and disappeared across El Salvador during the 1980s. Hundreds of communities have worked long and hard to uncover and preserve the truth of their histories.

One of these stories is that of Fredy Gomez, who was a member of the CRIPDES San Vicente team and the community of San Francisco Angulo, he was also a survivor of one of the many massacres happening during the 1980’s. He dedicated himself to recording the history of his community. This February, Fredy was murdered, many believe because of his activism. His commitment to uncovering the truth and seeking justice brought the massacres in San Francisco de Angulo to the national attention. The legacy of his work continues as we remember these victims.

2010: Fredy holds photos of his mother and brother during exhumations in Lomas de Angulo

During the 1980s, the national guard and other security forces carried out three different massacres in the area of San Francisco de Angulo. During the first massacre, on July 25th, 1981, the national guard and death squads killed forty-five women who had been preparing the day’s tortillas, and an unknown number of children. In October of the same year, the military arrived in neighboring Lomas de Angulo, where many people had taken refuge, rounded up the inhabitants and took them down to the river to kill them. Only two children survived. Several of Fredy’s siblings and his mother all died. On June 19th, 1982 the military swept through the region, killing all the community members and animals they came across, as part of the scorched earth campaign. While many fled, an estimated six hundred people lost their lives. Following these massacres, the community remained uninhabited until 1992, as community members, refugees, ex-combatants, and displaced Salvadorans began to return. Read More »


Supporting Salvadorian Youth Development through Education and Leadership Training

July 25, 2012

Since 1991, The Union of Rural Communities of Northern San Salvador and La Libertad (UCRES), has been one of SHARE’s closest grassroots partners. In our aim to continue to advocate for respect for civil and political rights and to formulate development programs, we have currently established a project to enhance youth development. Youth that participate in this project receive formal education and experience in community organizing and leadership. 25 high school youth from UCRES have been awarded scholarships which enable them to acquire a high school diploma and even allow them to pursue a professional career at a university.

As we learn of their great progress we know that the experiences provided to the youth will benefit them in the long run, as well as their communities.

Organizing in UCRES: Scholarship Students off and running!

The school year is in full swing in El Salvador. SHARE Scholarship students are busy with classes, homework, and projects in their communities. With the support of SHARE Grassroots Partners 25 scholarship students in the UCRES region have access to the uniforms, materials, and transportation they need to continue their studies.

Each month scholarship students attend assemblies where all of the scholarship students from the region gather to enjoy each others company, learn about the national reality, and participate in leadership development workshops.

This month, the assembly started out with a dynamica to break the ice and get the conversations flowing between the students. This was also a great way to practice leading similar activities in their communities and speaking in front of a large group.

Dynamicas at UCRES

The president of UCRES, Alexander Torres, announced that UCRES will be partnering with the Ministry of Education of El Salvador this year to lead literacy circles. The Ministry of Education will provide materials and trainings to scholarship students to prepare them to lead literacy circles for 4-5 people in their community. Due to the civil war and poverty many people in rural El Salvador did not have an opportunity to attend school. This is an exciting partnership as the Salvadoran Government is taking steps to increase literacy in rural communities.

Students were also excited to talk about a recent visit from students at Eastern Michigan University in early May. Some of the Scholarship students hosted students from Michigan in their communities and enjoyed sharing stories from their time together.

 

 


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