The SHARE Blog

Day of the Dead: Commemorating El Salvador’s Martyrs

November 2, 2012

Cunegundia Peña carries her son’s photo in the procession to the memorial wall

Nov. 1st is All Saints Day in the Catholic Tradition and Nov. 2ndis Día de los Fieles Difuntos, or Day of the Dead in El Salvador. In honor of these traditions and as part of their work for truth, justice, and reparations, the Pro-historic Memory Coalition organized an ecumenical service to commemorate the martyrs of El Salvador.

Madre Guadalupe Mejía of the Committee of the Family Members of the Disappeared (CODEFAM) and SHARE Board member, opened the commemoration with a stirring reminder of the still unfulfilled right to truth and justice and call to continue forward with the struggle.

“We gather to remember our martyrs. We want to know the truth about our loved ones, what happened to them so we can give them a Christian burial. We must create justice because otherwise this will continue happening. And the reparations, both moral and material, which we have a right to as family members of victims. We have to say to the government, here we are waiting. Mauricio Funes’ government has in its hands the reparations policy we presented to them in  November 2009 and we still have not advanced. Wherever we are we have to remind them that they have a debt and we are waiting.

“Madre” Guadalupe Mejia addresses the crowd.

“We also invite other family members to join us in one united front to continue in this struggle. We cannot stay with our arms crossed. We must remember our family members. Their death was not in vain. Let us remember who were the disappeared? They were children, youth and adults and they took their lives away just because they fought for a better country with no hunger, with justice, with true peace. We have to continue forward with pride until we achieve reparations, justice and truth. This is what we want.”


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Relief Update: October 2011 Flood

November 1, 2012


A micro-loan recipient and her 2012 crop.

Last October, Tropical Depression 12-E dumped more than five feet of rain on El Salvador in less than ten days. The record shattering floods destroyed more than 165,000 pounds of basic grains, resulting in a loss of $800 million, 4% of El Salvador’s GDP. Over the course of one week 56,000 people were displaced and 8,118 homes and 900 schools were severely damaged.

The situation was dire, but because of SHARE’s individual donors, grassroots partners, and supporting foundations we were able to send more than $40,000 to support communities devastated by this deluge.

This is what we did together:

  • 400 children and their parents received mosquito nets to protect them from malaria and dengue. The prevalence of both diseases increased dramatically in the months following the floods. 
  • A brigade of SHARE scholarship students carried food and supplies to 20 familieswho were stranded when the only bridge to their community, Santiago Torres, washed away. 

    Scholarship students lead games with children in Santiago Torres after they led a brigade to bring basic supplies to the stranded community.

  • Provided 100 food and personal hygiene packages to families in the Puerto de La Libertad. Packages included corn flour, beans, rice, sugar, oil, cheese, and milk. Hygiene packages included soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, diapers and heavy soap to clean homes.
  • More than 200 leaders from over 100 communities received emergency preparedness
  •  training this spring. Last October, communities with these training experienced almost no loss of life.  
  • In the community of San Jose el Pacún 18 latrines were constructed. During the flood many latrines were destroyed, creating public health hazards.
  • In Tecoluca, shelters received food and medical supplies for 1,759 people seeking refuge from the flooded Lempa River. 

A Reflection on the Mining Situation

October 31, 2012

A reflection from Cathy Howell, a March 2012 SHARE delegate:

Katy Strader and Cathy Howell marched with 700 other protesters


On Saturday, October 20, 2012, SHARE staff member Katy Strader and I traveled to Sensuntepeque with two other women who work with NGOs in El Salvador. We were all going to participate in a march to protest a proposal to begin gold mining by Pacific Rim Mining Corp. of Canada.
Along with 700 other protesters, we marched through downtown Sensuntepequeto the main plaza. We heard from speakers representing the many community, environmental and faith organizations that have joined the National Roundtable Against Mining in El Salvador (La Mesa Frente A la Minería). Their motto, El Salvador no se vende. El Salvador se defiende, ‘El Salvador is not for sale. El Salvador defends itself”, represents their goal to pass a law that will prohibit metallic mining in El Salvador by any corporation.

Take Action Now for Ousted Vendors!

October 30, 2012

City officials violently bulldozed and removed all vendor stalls within the 33 blocks of San Salvador. photo from El Blog

Over the weekend, San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano, presidential candidate for the ARENA party, ousted 970 street vendors from 33 blocks of downtown San Salvador. More than 5,000 police officers and city employees violently removed vendors who attempted to stay by barricading themselves in their stalls.

The process injured ten individuals and resulted in thousands of dollars in destroyed equipment and merchandise belonging to vendors. The assault on low-income workers continued Monday when Quijano ordered police to shut down Casa Sindical, headquarters of the Salvadoran Union Front, so that unionists could not enter and organize.

To TAKE ACTION, click the “Read More” tab. Read More »

Maize and Beans at Risk: Threatens Economy

October 25, 2012

The success of maize and bean crops is crucial to life in El Salvador, where over one million farmers’ livelihoods depend on their cultivation.  With higher temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns, a new report entitled, “Tortillas on the Roaster“, predicts that climate change will seriously threaten food security and transform the landscape in the region within the next ten years.

The Bajo Lempa region has already seen the drought effects of climate change.

SHARE partners with several organizations that are striving for food security, economic sovereignty, and protection against climate change for Salvadoran communities. One such partner, the Confederation of Federations of Salvadoran Agrarian Reform (CONFRAS), represents 131 cooperatives inEl Salvador made up of over 5,911 rural farmers throughout El Salvador.

Through CONFRAS, SHARE supported the Campesino to Campesino (Farmer to Farmer) program for many years, facilitating a process in which rural farmers teach other rural farmers organic farming techniques. With SHARE’s support, grassroots work and popular education are currently empowering rural farmers to teach others sustainable methods, employing new technologies mixed with traditional farming techniques. As is evidenced by the Tortillas report, sustainable farming like this is the only way agriculture can recover and continue in Central America.

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A Call to Action

October 22, 2012

Everyone came out to support the cause because everyone deserves to grow up in a healthy environment.

SAN SALVADOR OCT 4th: The gritty battle to shut down mining in El Salvador continued during H2O week’s (Oct. 1st-5th) march for water security and a ban on mining. Protesters insisted, “We will keep protesting and fighting until it is no longer necessary.”

About 2,000 protesters gathered in front of the Legislative Assembly building on Inter-American Water Day to pressure the Legislative Assembly to pass a law banning metallic mining, Strategic Risk Management Law, and the General Water Act. Together, all three laws seek to provide greater water security for vulnerable populations, some of which have no access to clean water. 

97% of El Salvador’s water is already contaminated, and the other 3% is of poor quality. Thus far, the mining movement has been successful in preventing active mining, but the proposed mining exploration would use as much water in an hour as a family in El Salvador uses in two years. They would contaminate freshwater aquifers, soil, and surface water with cyanide, rendering the water toxic and threatening traditional economic activities such as agriculture and livestock. Protesters hope to pass a law that would permanently prevent mining in El Salvador.

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Mujeres de la Guerra Book

We are excited to share that the Mujeres de la Guerra book is now for sale! The Mujeres de la Guerra book – part of a larger historical memory project including a documentary
film and photography exhibit – includes the formal portraits and testimonies of 28
Salvadoran rural women, leaders and community organizers. Women from SHARE
counterparts, including the Mujeres Ganaderas, the CCR, UCRES, CRIPDES San
Vicente and CONFRAS, shared their powerful, moving, and inspiring stories for this

Carmen Elena reflects.

These women are teachers, nurses, organic farmers, presidents of community councils, founders of cooperatives and civil society organizations, working for peace and justice today. Carmen Elena is one of the women who shared her time and story for this project. She is Director and teacher at the public school in Los Naranjos, about 45 minutes towards the ocean from the CRIPDES San Vicente San Carlos Lempa office.



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Attention! Attention! Rural Women are Marching!

October 17, 2012

October 15: International Rural Women’s Day, Fighting for food sovereignty and security

October 15 marks the International Day of Rural Women, as declared in 2007 by the United
Nations. Rural Salvadoran women from all over the country came together to celebrate
their day with the Second Rural Women’s National Congress in San Salvador. While various issues could have been chosen, this year the group decided to focus on food sovereignty and security.

As an extension of the one-day meeting and in celebration of the International Day of Food
Sovereignty, on Tuesday, October 16, organized rural women marched from Cuscatlán
Park to the Legislative Assembly. The women organized the march to draw attention to
the many needs and struggles that rural Salvadoran women face in their daily lives, and to pressure members of the Legislative Assembly to consider their demands.

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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.

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