The SHARE Blog

Amicus Brief: Environmental and Human Rights Impacts of Mining

March 11, 2011

Dear SHARE community,

We continue our support of the anti-mining groups in El Salvador. Many of our delegations have witnessed first hand the health risks, human rights violations, and environmental impacts that mining can cause. We realize the importance this issue has to our base of supporters and would like to share with you all what could be a very helpful case against mining in El Salvador.
(If you would like to read this and other articles in Spanish, please visit our Spanish Blog)

Amicus Brief Highlights the Environmental and Human Rights Impacts of Mining in $77 Million Investment Arbitration Case

Washington, DC: On March 2, 2011, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), on behalf of civil society organizations of the Mesa Nacional Frente a la Minería Metálica (Mesa), filed an amicus curiae brief in the Pac Rim Cayman LLC v. Republic of El Salvador case, currently being heard at the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The Mesa is a coalition of human rights and environmental organizations working to ban metals mining in El Salvador. Read More »

Romero Justice Week 2011

March 1, 2011

Dear friends,
As February comes to a close and we enter into March, here at the SHARE Foundation we remind ourselves to pause, to fully appreciate the living, breathing legacy of Archbishop Oscar Romero. We invite you to join us by planning an event or space to come together in solidarity with the Salvadoran people in celebration of Romero’s life, his dedication to the poor and marginalized of El Salvador and the world, and his untiring denouncement of the structures of injustice and oppression. To offer ideas and materials for commemoration and reflection, we have created the Romero Week Packet, They Must Be Educated for Love; Romero’s Legacy and the Right to Education. (click the link to download the packet)

On this 31st anniversary of Monseñor Romero’s death, we have an opportunity to honor his legacy and recognize those that continue to walk in his footsteps. In honoring the incredible example of love and justice that he laid his life down for, we can celebrate Romero’s life by raising awareness around one of the keys to creating sustainable development in El Salvador today: access to education. The Romero Week Packet includes information on Romero’s legacy; the struggle to access quality education; examples of transformative education in El Salvador today, a sample spiritual service; quotes, prayers, reflections, discussion questions and ideas for action. Read More »

Sugar Cane Burning, Pesticide Use and Organizing in the Bajo Lempa Make the International News!

February 22, 2011

Dear SHARE Friends and Community,


As many of you know, years of chemical pesticides and sugar cane burning in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador have put the health and lives of thousands of families at risk.  Renal failure is a serious problem that has taken the lives of countless community leaders and friends and until very recently, this situation wasn’t national news in El Salvador, despite community organizing against chemical pesticides and alarming rates of dialysis and death.  The Bajo Lempa is one of the areas most devastatingly affected by flooding on an almost yearly basis; a two-decades effort for prevention and mitigation projects has finally resulted in concrete actions on the part of the government, but the struggle continues.

Given this situation, we’re excited to share with you all this great in-depth article on Al-Jazeera English about the situation in the Bajo Lempa.  While the article is focused on one of the many community-based organizations working for environmental protection, advocacy for public works, healthcare rights, education, and organic agriculture, it does a great talking about the general situation in an area where SHARE has worked for many, many years: with the Women’s Cattle Cooperative and CRIPDES San Vicente.

Following is a short excerpt; please read Climate: Putting People Over Money for more! Read More »

Public Opinion Poll in El Salvador

February 10, 2011

The University of Technology in El Salvador has conducted its public opinion poll through the Center of Investigations covering political, economic, and social aspects (February 4-6, 2011)

According to the opinion polls taken this month in El Salvador, about 70% of the population agrees that the most typical forms of crime are juvenile delinquency, theft, and extortion. However, even though a large portion of the population believes the country is dominated by crime (82.3%), only 30% of the population has ever been a victim of such crimes. Another pressing issue for the Salvadoran community is their economic situation. 58% of families have at least one person of age that is currently unemployed, and of those 58%, 58% have not held a job in over a year. Most Salvadorans agree that crime and their economic status are the most difficult situations they currently facing.
When dealing with these crimes, the Salvadoran community chooses to trust more in the Armed Forces for protection that the PNC alone. 60% of the population agrees that either the Armed Forces alone, or the Armed Forces patrolling along side of the PNC is more favorable to the PNC patrolling on their own. This shows that the Salvadoran community is responding well to suggestions made by President Mauricio Funes.
As to who Salvadorans will vote for in upcoming elections, 70% of the population agrees that Mauricio Funes is popular due to his style of governing. However, when asked whether he is taking the country in the right direction, almost half say yes and the other half say he is not. When looking at who the population will potentially vote for during the elections for mayor and other representatives, there is about a 10% difference in favor of FMLN over ARENA.

To read this opinion poll and for more information, please visit the Center of Investigations for the Public Opinion of El Salvador

Social Panorama of Latin America

February 8, 2011

Cesar Villalona, a prestigious international economist, gives us a breakdown of the reports done by CEPAL (Economic Commission for Latin American, of the United Nations) covering the social panorama in Latin America for 2010. 

The report discusses the changing rates of poverty in Latin America, the factors leading to these changes, and the economic effects these changes are having. The growing inequality between countries is one of the biggest findings in this report. As one will notice, graph 1.2 (p. 4) shows the variation in the cost of food increase, which has been relatively low for El Salvador, and relatively high in countries like Bolivia and Chile. However, when we compare the rates of poverty change from 2002 to 2009 on graph 1.3 (p. 9), countries like Chile, Bolivia, but especially those of Argentina and Venezuela have been able to decrease their poverty levels by large percentages. In 2002, Argentina’s poverty rates were about 45%, whereas now in 2009 they are at a low of only about 11%. 
El Salvador, on the other hand, has only decreased its poverty rates by 1% (48.9% in 2002 to 47.9% in 2009); the lowest change in all of Latina America! So we can see that, even though the cost of food has not increased dramatically in El Salvador, the rates of poverty are also not changing, but are in fact staying relatively high in comparison to other countries. 

To read the report and for more information please click HERE

Action Alert: Support Anti-Mining Activists

February 2, 2011

Our allies in the Cabañas environmental movement as well as the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining (the Mesa) are very concerned about a recent wave of death threats and crimes against members of El Salvador’s anti-mining movement as well as other violent crimes recently committed in Cabañas.  Similar crimes in 2009 that went uninvestigated, including robberies, kidnappings, and death threats against members of Radio Victoria, ADES, ASIC, and the CAC – all active organizations in Cabañas’ mining resistance –were a prelude to the murders of three activists, Marcelo Rivera, Ramiro Rivera and Dora Alicia Sorto Recinos. Please read more in-depth reports here and here.

Therefore, our allies are extremely concerned that the on-going state of impunity not only encourages the recent threats and crimes but could lead to more violence and murders in the near future.

Current situation:
•    In the middle of the night on January 11, a written death threat was pushed under the front door of community radio station Radio Victoria despite supposed 24-hour police security.  The authors claim to be an “extermination group” and offer large sums of money to the radio if they “stop making trouble,” including to stop reporting on mining.  If they don’t, the group says they will murder the radio’s three “loudest mouths,” Elvis Zavala, Pablo Ayala, and Manuel Navarrete.

•    On January 23, Mesa member and activist from MUFRAS-32 Hector Berríos received phone calls to his home and his cell phone from an unidentified person who claimed to have been hired to kill Hector or a member of his family. Read More »

Drew Theological Seminary in El Salvador

February 1, 2011

For the first few weeks of 2011, SHARE received a delegation from the Drew Theological Seminary in Madison, New Jersey. Nine students and two professors spent two weeks learning about communities express their faith here in El Salvador.  Listed below are some of their favorite quotes taken from the various individuals and groups we met with while they were here.

“We cannot do this without people in our community.” -Radio Victoria talking about continuing their work despite recieving death threats

“People are not looking for the American dream, they are fleeing the Central American nightmare.”-Dean Brackley S.J. about immigration Read More »

Spotlighting Sisters: St. Sebastian and Teosinte

January 31, 2011

Garden of Love Deeply Planted: St. Sebastian Parish and Teosinte by Phelia Lorenzen, SHARE Supporter
To think that in 1991, a citywide delegation from Milwaukee to El Salvador planted the first seed for St. Sebastian Parish to partner with Teosinte — a small, isolated village high in the hills of Chalatenago.
At the time, Teosinte, a repatriated community from a refugee camp in Honduras, was only three years old. In great need. Fifty-two families, starting from scratch to farm the mountainous hills of the area, had begun a long journey to create a viable, sustainable, cohesive community. St. Sebastian people’s hearts were touched, and a strong, loving partnership began and continues to strengthen. The garden flourishes.
St. Sebastian immediately adopted the “three pillars of accompaniment” that were the guidelines of The SHARE Foundation (coordinator for sistering programs in El Salvador): physical accompaniment, spiritual accompaniment, and financial support.
Physical accompaniment takes form in many ways with St. Sebastian. They arrange regular delegations to the community so delegates can walk the garden — live in home stays with the families, play with the children, dialogue with the Directiva, taste new foods, hang out with the kids, and share mass, along with general community fiestas. At home in Milwaukee, the Teosinte/El Salvador Committee prints a quarterly newsletter for all parishioners that includes events in Teosinte and personal letters from community members and scholarship recipients. Read More »

Action Alert: Activist receives death threat

January 25, 2011

Amnesty International Action Alert

Hector Berríos, a community activist and human rights lawyer in Cabañas, a department of El Salvador, received death threats by phone on 23 January. Amnesty International believes he is being targeted for his human rights work, and is at risk.

On 23 January, at 12.20 pm Hector Berríos received a phone call on his landline from an unknown man who claimed to be a friend, and asked where Hector was. Around a minute later, the same person called Hector Berríos’ mobile phone, saying that they had been paid a lot of money to kill him, or a member of his family “Nos han pagado mucho dinero para asesinarte…ya sea a vos o a uno de tu familia”. The man continued by saying “We have been watching you in San Isidro and Mejicanos, we have got you close, look, we know you work for the people” (“…Te hemos estado observando en San Isidro y Mejicanos, te tenemos cerca, mira sabemos que trabajas para la gente…”). The caller made an offer to Hector Berríos: if Hector withdrew from his work, they would not kill him. At this point Hector Berríos put the phone down.

The previous day, on 22 January, starting at 10.00 pm Hector Berríos received ten anonymous phone calls. He has not received further calls. Read More »

If you can’t get through, EMAIL the COMMERCE GROUP TODAY!

January 14, 2011

It seems the ICSID tribunal has asked for more time before deciding about whether the Commerce Group case will move forward.  The decision will be issued this month. That is why it’s important to send a clear message demanding that the company to drop the suit. 

 If you can’t get through on the phone, please send email to:


My name is _______________(if you are a Milwaukee or Wisconsin resident, say so up front!) and I have been following Commerce Group’s lawsuit  against the government of El Salvador.

I am calling on Ed Machulak and the Board of Directors to respect the right of the government of El Salvador to protect the environment and the health of the people near the San Sebastian mine by immediately withdrawing your lawsuit against the government of El Salvador.

It is deplorable that the government of El Salvador is under attack for protecting the health and safety of its people.   If anything, it is Commerce Group who should be paying for the toxic legacy that has been left behind

I will be telling my friends and neighbors about the damage you are causing, as well as calling on my Congressional Representatives to take action.

Thank you.

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