The SHARE Blog

Perspectives on the Gang Truce: Part one

October 12, 2012

In recent years security and poverty comprise the two most pressing issues Salvadorans typically express. News about El Salvador often focuses on levels of violence among the highest per capita in the world. However, in March 2012 a truce began between El Salvador´s main gangs, the MS 13 and 18th Street gangs. The homicide rate in El Salvador dropped from an average of 14 a day to 5, and has continued at this level for just over six months now. At the end of September, the Passionist Social Service (SSPAS) and the Foundation for the Study and Application of the Law (FESPAD), both of which have run and supported youth violence prevention and rehabilitation initiatives for years, hosted a forum on the opportunities and challenges the truce provides for creating a sustainable peace process.  Over the next two weeks, SHARE will feature a multi-part series on the truce and various perspectives presented and the forum and beyond. This first installment offers a summary of the first six months of the truce.

Geovanni Morales, a rehabilitated gang member and current coordinator of SSPAS re-insertion program for gang members, shares his perspective.

In March 2012, digital newspaper El Faro broke news of a truce between El Salvador´s main gangs, the MS 13 and 18th Street gangs, and that the director of prisons had moved thirty high level gang leaders from maximum security prison where they received no visitors and spent only three hours a week in sunlight, to lower security prisons with visiting privileges. Shortly thereafter, ex-FMLN legislator Raúl Mijango and Monseñor Fabio Colindres emerged in the news as lead negotiators in the truce.

 While initially government officials including Minister of Justice and Security David Munguía Payés denied any involvement in or relation to the gang truce, in June Munguía Payés accepted the truce as a piece in his plans to address security problems in El Salvador. In early September, in an interview with the Faro, Munguía Payés and Mijango presented the negotiations with the gangs as carefully planned within the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, with the approval of president Funes. The following week, President Funes dismissed this angle on the truce, re-asserting his previous explanation that the negotiations evolved from an initiative of the Catholic Church that the government has simply helped facilitate. Read More »


Women’s Choice

October 8, 2012

Women came from all over to participate in the forum.

When Sonia Tabora got pregnant at age 20, she never dreamed her next 7 years would be spent in prison. After a premature birth, Sonia’s baby died suddenly. Sonia was alone in her shock and grief, severely bleeding, until the doctor arrived. However, once she explained what had happened, her story was deemed an abortion cover-up and she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide. A victim of the harsh culture surrounding women’s reproductive rights in El Salvador, Sonia was fortunate enough to get her case overturned after years of fighting for her freedom date.

Sonia is just one woman among many who have suffered unjustly due to the oppressive governing laws ruling women’s bodies and reproductive choices, especially regarding abortion laws. Since 1997, El Salvador has executed a policy that states, “Penalización absoluta,” meaning that it is unexceptionally illegal to perform or receive an abortion, including pregnancies that result from rape or incest, or when the pregnancy is life-threatening.  Under the current law women who are convicted under this Penal Code face anywhere from two to eight years of imprisonment.  This is indicative of the culture surrounding women’s reproduction and rights, as laws like these are used as tools to oppress women and to maintain the government’s power over the lives of its people.

Alliance for Sexual Health and Reproduction in El Salvador (Alianza) and the Central Women’s Fund (FCAM) held a forum on Sept. 28th entitled, “Implications of the absolute incrimination of abortion in women’s lives”. SHARE partner ORMUSA participated in the forum in which many social justice groups discussed how this law, among others, seizes sovereignty over women’s bodies; in turn, it encroaches on their freedom, aggravating gender inequality and intensifying the consequences of unplanned pregnancy.

Read More »


Munching with the Mujeres

October 2, 2012

Everyone at the workshop enjoyed the delicious organic soup

Chopping tomatoes and simmering soup is nothing new for the women of Chaletenango; after all, they have been cooking hearty meals for their families for generations. Today, though, the tomatoes did not come from the market, but were picked from the organic garden next door, and the chicken was raised within the CCR region, ready to provide healthy sustenance and economic solidarity for the people of Chaletenango.

Rubia Guardado and Juanita Morales, CCR Women’s Secretariat coordinators, led the “Intercambio de Mujeres CCR” workshop last Saturday. A group of 20 women from different communities supported by the CCR gathered in order to learn about the importance of eating “green” and practicing a sustainable food culture. During the workshop, the women prepared all-natural organic soup, tortillas, chicken and refresco to demonstrate the health benefits of fresh, local produce.

By skipping out on the usual salt-ridden, physically and monetarily costly condimentos, and through discussing the concept of economic solidarity, the women saw that meals can be a route to sustainable living and healthier families. As one woman shared, economic solidarity means that “We use our own resources, our own products…what we have,” while “Learning to consume what is ours…it is important to eat what we grow.”

The women used beautiful, fresh vegetables to make the soup.

With the introduction of several community gardens managed by women in their own rural towns, as well as new initiatives to raise livestock for milk and meat, like the Mujeres Ganaderas, healthier eating and food sovereignty is being realized. Being able to move towards economic solidarity means independence and security for developing communities, and the benefits are abundant. As one woman explained, “It is better for our relationships with our neighbors. I give them tomatoes and they give me jocote leaves.”

Workshops like this one are giving women necessary knowledge and tools to lead their communities towards sustainability. “We want our children to be healthier,” one woman shared, “I don’t give my children soda anymore…we must be creative with our food”

Despite some doubt among the group, the all natural soup, tortillas, chicken, and refresco turned out to be delicious. No additives, condiments, or chemicals were used to make our lunch, just fresh vegetables, chicken, salt, pepper, natural herbs and spices, and very little vegetable oil. 


Support through Sisterhood

October 1, 2012

About 1,800 miles separate Good Shepherd Parish of Shawnee, KS from the small, rural community of El Buen Pastor, nestled in the hills of El Salvador. The two communities differ in language, size, culture and way of life. Most people in El Buen Pastor have never seen snow, while most Good Shepherd parishioners have never tasted a papusa. Most people in El Buen Pastor can’t drive a stick shift, while most Good Shepherd parishioners can’t milk a cow. Despite these differences, anyone at Good Shepherd will tell you that the people of El Buen Pastor are anything but strangers. They’re brothers and sisters. This June, the family celebrated 25 years of solidarity, support and love.

 It’s a story any eighth-grader at Good Shepherd could tell you. The El Buen Pastor community began in two refugee camps in San Salvador. The people lived in shanties made of sticks and tarps constructed on garbage dumps or in the basements of churches. The people were in constant fear of violence from the military. They had little running water, little electricity, poor health care, little access to education. But the people never lost hope and out of the darkness of war came new hope, new life and new roots.

 “They always told me, ‘I may not know peace and freedom, my children may not know peace and freedom, but I know that my grandchildren will experience peace and freedom,’” said Father George Seuferling, a former pastor of Good Shepherd who has traveled to El Salvador many times since the very first delegation in 1987. In the midst of the war, Good Shepherd sent a delegation to the country. On Aug. 23, 1987, the community of Tres Ceibas (now El Buen Pastor) and Good Shepherd joined in a sistering relationship. Over the past 25 years, the two communities have walked together in solidarity. This June, seven parishioners from Good Shepherd traveled to the community to celebrate that bond.

Read More »


Cow Power: Dinora and the Mujeres Ganaderas

September 27, 2012

Dinora addresses her community

For Dinora Yanet Cruz Vasquez, cows populate the path to empowerment and sustainability. In 2001, Dinora became an active member of the Mujeres Ganaderas Cooperative in the Bajo Lempa River region. A SHARE partner, the Mujeres Ganaderas Cooperative provides small micro-credit loans, which allow hundreds of women like Dinora to sustain the needs of their household through the cattle program. Equipo Maíz, another SHARE partner, has provided training for the Mujeres Ganaderas in gender, women´s rights, and leadership, further compelling the women to move forward and build up the movement. Dinora and her husband originally bought a bull and two cows with the low-interest loan, providing Dinora the chance to improve her family’s economic situation.

Since then, Dinora has gained confidence in her own skills through carefully managing her loan and cattle. Along with her oldest daughter, Dinora actively participates in Mujeres Ganaderas meetings and even holds a place on the cooperative board of directors. Her oldest daughter has become involved as well, accompanying Dinora in her work and participating in the cooperative’s meetings. Dinora shares that her daughter is not shy at all, but rather speaks up at the meetings. The strength of her daughter’s voice is particularly significant, as many of the women in the Mujeres Ganaderas share that when they first started participating in the meetings they felt shy and uncertain. Through their participation they have learned to express themselves and share their opinions. In her daughter Dinora sees promise for the next generation. Being able to see this kind of tangible confirmation steadily builds confidence in the women’s movement.

Read More »


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.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61

Follow Us Online!

Facebook   Twitter
August 2015
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Archives