The SHARE Blog

VMM Delegation Commemorates with the Romero Coalition

November 19, 2012

Patricia Garcia from COMADRES (Committee of Mothers Monsignor Romero) and participant in the Romero Coalition (Concertacion Romero) accompanied VMM delegates to Romero’s crypt

When Patricia was imprisoned in El Salvador and exiled to Mexico for her role as a human rights activist, she thought of the moment when, at nine years old, she shook hands with Monseñor Romero. His support through out her time in prison and Both his support in her life while imprisoned and his current role in her life have greatly influenced her work as an activist.

A victim of the violence and oppression of the paramilitary and government, Patricia is a part of the Romero Coalition. The Coalition is working to obtain justice in the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and for the more than 8000 other victims of the right-wing regime in El Salvador during the armed conflict. A delegation from SHARE and the Volunteer Missionary Movement had the privilege of meeting Patricia during the week long VMM delegation in October.

Delegates spent the week learning about the Salvadoran reality and the work of VMM missioners for justice in Central America. Among the delegation were VMM board members, VMM founder Edwina Gately, supporters and friends. Included were SHARE’s Sistering Accompaniment Coordinator and Human Rights Advocacy Coordinator, as well as several missioners in Nicaragua and Guatemala, all of whom are all supported by VMM-USA.

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Perspectives on the Gang Truce Part 2: Raúl Mijango Mediator

November 16, 2012

In March 2012 a truce began between El Salvador´s main gangs, the MS 13 and 18thStreet 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. This fall, the Passionist Social Service (SSPAS) and the Foundation for the Study and Application of the Law (FESPAD) hosted a forum on the opportunities and challenges the truce provides for creating a sustainable peace process.  This is part two in a series on the truce and features two perspectives presented at the forum: Raúl Mijango, one of the mediators of the truce, and Geovanni Morales, Coordinator of SSPAS´ Reinsertion Program.
Raúl Mijango, mediator


As one of the mediators of the gang truce, Raúl Mijango expresses great excitement for the possibilities the truce opens up. He sees the beginning of the truce in March as a historic date in the Salvadoran peace process, and a game changer in addressing ascending levels of violence in El Salvador and the world. Mijango called attention to the truce´s success in preventing the deaths of over 1,600 Salvadorans who would have been killed in the last six months if the violence had remained at 14 homicides a day.  He also noted that while the international community has reacted with amazement and support, the Salvadoran society has had very little reaction to or support for the change.

Photo Credit: Danielle Mackey

For Mijango, in order to address these issues it is crucial to recognize that El Salvador´s struggles with violence, gangs, and criminality is not simply a rising wave of crime, but is in fact a new manifestation of social conflict. He sees this conflict as rooted in a failure to move forward with public policies that addressed socio-economic divides after the armed conflict. Instead, the socio-economic gap has only widened and the government did little to respond to the initial development of the gangs in the 1990s.

 

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Government Apologizes for Disappearance of Six Children

November 12, 2012

Family Members of The Disappeared

During the civil war, government security forces forcibly disappeared seven of Magdalena´s family members and held and tortured Magdalena as a political prisoner. On October 29th, The Salvadoran Government officially apologized for their role in the disappearance of six specific children. Magdalena was there to hear their apology along with Madre Guadalupe, other victims and their families.

Between 1981 and 1983, Ana Julia and Carmelina Mejía Ramírez, José Rubén Rivera and Gregoria Herminia, Serapio Cristian and Julia Inés Contreras were forcibly disappeared in three separate incidents in Morazán and San Vicente. Pro-Busqueda took the case to the Inter-American Human Rights Court. In the end, the court ordered the state to recognize their responsibility and apologize to the families of the deceased. On August 31st, 2011, the court declared the Salvadoran state to be responsible for their disappearances.

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Civil Society Reacts to Vendor Removal

November 5, 2012

Quijano bulldozed 970 street vendors within 33 blocks

On the weekend of October 28th, mayor of San Salvador and 2013 ARENA presidential candidate Norman Quijano ordered the violent removal of 970 informal vendor stalls from 33 blocks in San Salvador. With a bulldozer. That’s right, he demolished hundreds of stalls containing thousands of dollars in merchandise and a few vendors inside, with a bulldozer. Such rampant disregard for other human beings requires action.

As can be expected, national and international communities are outraged and calling for justice to be served. When Quijano literally bulldozed the vendors’ livelihoods last week, he extensively violated the rights of every affected individual and created an even deeper divide between the middle and lower classes.

SHARE partnering organization, FESPAD, was among the first to speak out against this appalling disrespect and oppression of the working class. FESPAD is demanding that the government recognize the needs of the targeted low-income community and respect the dignity and vulnerability of this population.

On October 21st, FESPAD held a press conference during which they released a position statement recounting how Quijano violated the vendors’ rights. The statement charts out a number of demands for justice, including a formal apology to those affected and for the government to recognize that they violated both the municipal law and human rights.  
For background on this event, read our blog. 
For the full position statement from FESPAD, visit their position paper, published in the Diario Colatino. For more background under the “Read More” tab, Equipo Maíz has published a informative comic.

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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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