The SHARE Blog

Press Release: Coalition Against Commerce Group Mine

November 13, 2010

60 Community organizations call on Commerce Group to drop its $100 million lawsuit against El Salvador
Milwaukee-based firm suing over decision to block its mining operations after evidence of massive water contaminationFirst hearing set for November 15 in Washington, DC
Milwaukee, WI,  Washington, DC:            

A coalition of Milwaukee and national organizations called on Commerce Group, a Milwaukee-based mining corporation to drop its controversial $100 million legal case against the government of El Salvador.  58 oorganizations from across the country signed a statement demanding that the case not only be dropped, but that there be cleanup of environmental damages caused by the mine and compensation to victims of mine pollution.  In 2006 the Salvadoran government revoked the company’s mining permits, following evidence that its operations were dumping highly toxic poisons into local water.  In retaliation, Commerce Group filed a demand before a World Bank trade court (the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, ICSID) demanding not only payment for its investments but also for tens of millions of dollars in what it claims are “lost profits.”  The demand is being filed under the foreign investor “protections” of the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). The first hearing in the case will take place on November 15 in Washington, D.C. Read More »

El Salvador Lodges Complaint with the Guatemalan Government About Attack on Environmental Activists

November 5, 2010

For the second time in the last three months members of the Center of Investigations into Investment and Commerce (CEICOM), an active member of the National Roundtable against Mineral Mining, have been kidnapped, robbed and left at an abandoned farm while traveling in Guatemala. In both instances the anti-mining activists were traveling to events in Guatemala related to the Cerro Blanco mine. The Cerro Blanco mine, owned and to be operated by a Guatemalan subsidiary of Gold Corp, is located less than 10 miles from the Salvadoran border in the Guatemalan municipality of Jutiapa. If the project is allowed to continue it poses the risk of contaminated the Guija Lake which is one of the main sources of the Lempa River. The Lempa River supplies water to 65% of El Salvador. CEICOM has been a leader in forming relationships with local resistance to the mine in Guatemala. During the most recent case they were accompanied by two journalists from the Salvadoran TV station Channel 10.

Written by Angélica Cárcamo — Translated by USESSC Staff

SAN SALVADOR – Three Salvadoran environmentalists from Center of Investigations into Investment and Commerce (CEICOM) and two journalist from Channel 10 were kidnapped and later left on an abandoned farm on October 28th, while they were traveling to the capital of Guatemala.   Read More »

Day of the Dead at the Memorial Wall

November 4, 2010

Every November 2nd, Salvadorans celebrate Day of the Dead, where they go to cemeteries to clean, paint and put flowers on the graves of their loved ones.   Though for many Salvadorans, their is no grave to visit, as their loved ones were disappeared or murdered during the civil war, their bodies dumped in clandestine graveyards or never found.

For that reason, Human Rights organizations in El Salvador hold a ceremony at the Memorial Wall in Parque Cuscatlan.  SHARE Delegates will remember the Memorial Wall as huge monument with 30,000 names of those killed in the Civil War.

The Diario CoLatina published this photo of family members paying tribute to their loved ones at the Memorial Wall this past Tuesday.


The SHARE Board meets with U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador

October 28, 2010

The Board of Directors traveled this past week to El Salvador for intense strategic planning discussions.  Our new strategic plan is a visionary attempt to position SHARE for its next stage of work.  Watch for more information about this as communication is rolled out soon!
To help frame our strategic planning work, the Board met with partner organizations, office staff from the Berkeley and San Salvador offices, and visited a number of grassroots projects that SHARE supports.  We met with youth who were a part of a leadership development program.  We spoke with women whose coop community had organized a community garden with SHARE’s help.  We met with representatives from women’s empowerment, economic development, and climate change organizations.  Wednesday morning we had the opportunity to visit the US Embassy and to meet with the newly appointed Ambassador, Mari Carmen Aponte.  Only the third woman to have served in this position, Ambassador Aponte warmly greeted our delegation in Spanish.  What a delightful surprise, especially after having met with previous office holders who lacked fluency in the language.
But it wasn’t just this change in ability that caught my attention.  The political changes in El Salvador and the United States seem to have produced a change in tone and emphasis.  Ambassador Aponte and her staff were enthusiastic about the work of SHARE and were interested in creating ways to perhaps partner on future projects.  Additionally they seemed interested in finding ways to reach out to the community of El Salvadorans living in the United States and intrigued by some of SHARE’s new outreach among “hometown associations” in the US.  Who knows what might be possible with the change in administrations.  At the very least, it was a refreshing encounter and one might pave the way for a more open line of communication between the El Salvador Office of SHARE and the embassy.
For more information about the new embassador,
-Contributed by SHARE Board Member, Pastor Jeff Johnson

Youth Assembly in Chalatenango

October 15, 2010

This article was written by Grassroots Delegations Leader Bethany about her visit to the CCR youth assembly in September.
Since the end of the summer delegation season, I have continued to deepen my understanding of and appreciation for SHARE’s work. I have had several opportunities to visit some of SHARE’s counterparts, and see their processes of organizing. I particularly enjoyed attending a regional youth assembly in Arcatao, Chalatenango, organized by the CCR, one of CRIPDES’ regional offices. Over 200 youth ages fifteen to thirty filled the community center with clapping, laughter, and encouragement. Well designed to keep the youth engaged, the assembly included brief talks on the current national reality and the history of organizing in Chalatenango, a skit about migration presented by a local youth theatre group, an academic competition, and dinámicas throughout. Read More »

UCRES Scholarship Students

October 11, 2010

Meet José Neftaly Valencia, participant in the SHARE-UCRES High School Scholarship and Integral Youth Development Program in Northern San Salvador. Thanks to SHARE’s accompaniment and the support of our US Grassroots base, Neftaly is able to continue his studies and work for community development.

Neftaly is from the community La Joya, a community repopulated by people who fled their homes during the brutal civil war in El Salvador. He lives with both his parents and two sisters in this small, rural community. Neftaly is currently in his third year of technical high school, studying accounting at the National Institute of El Paisnal, the final resting place of Father Rutilio Grande. He is a very dynamic young man that makes one feel immediately at ease and in confianza. Neftaly is the President of the youth committee and in addition to his studies and work as a youth leader, he loves soccer.

Read More »

Effects of Hurricane Matthew in Tecoluca

October 4, 2010

Due to rains from Hurricane Matthew and a following low pressure system, brining chilly weather, grey skies and almost non-stop storms for over a week, many communities in El Salvador have flooded once again.  The squatters community of Bendición de Díos in Tecoluca was overcome by water in the middle of the night and forced to seek shelter in a nearby public school.  Over 100 people have stayed in this temporary shelter for five days, walking to the river that destroyed their homes to wash themselves and their clothes as the school has no running water, sleeping on four-inch thick mattresses on the schoolroom floor, and counting on the organization of CRIPDES San Vicente for food. Bendición de Díos is located between two small rivers and has been declared a non-inhabitable area.  Working with different government institutions, CRIPDES has found a place for these 30 families to resettle once the waters subside. Read More »

On Beginning at SHARE

October 1, 2010

This reflection was written by Bethany Loberg, our new Grassroots Sistering Coordinator.  Bethany writes about her first few months at SHARE with our summer delegations.

I arrived in El Salvador in the midst of Tropical Storm Agatha and began at SHARE the last day of May. My new room and various other parts of Casa Clara had flooded, and visits out to the various regions the SHARE Grassroots program partners with hung in the air due to intense flooding. My house mates and I knew the flooding at our house was only a minor nuisance compared to communities settled on flood planes and families living in houses cobbled together from sheets of tin and cardboard boxes.
In spite of being greeted by torrential downpours and the resulting national emergency, I felt excited to begin at SHARE, as I saw coming SHARE as a continuation of a path that has called me for much of my life. Social justice and human rights have caught my attention for as long as I can remember. I became more and more drawn to U.S. Foreign policy towards Latin America in particular from eighth grade on, through my participation in the School of the Americas protest in Ft. Benning Georgia, and the local SOA Watch group.  Read More »

Hurricane Matthew Causes Heavy Rains; El Salvador Continues on Orange Alert

September 27, 2010

El Salvador continues on Yellow Alert, with the Coastal and Central Mountain zones on Orange Alert, due to heavy rains provoked by Hurricane Matthew. Rains began on Friday as Hurricane Matthew developed off the Atlantic Nicaraguan Coast and continued heavily throughout the weekend, causing torrential downpours in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. As Matthew becomes a Tropical Depression along the Southern Mexican Coast, the National Service of Territorial Studies (SNET) projects that heavy rains will continue through Tuesday and encourages Civil Protection committees to remain on alert.
This storm comes after five months of continuous heavy rains. Soil is already saturated and flooding, mudslides, and evacuations have been common in this rainy season. Throughout the country, farmers have lost their season’s crops and, in areas like the Lower Lempa River basin, communities have decided to wait until the end of the rainy season to plant. Because of heavy rains in Honduras and Guatemala, which feed into the Lempa River and its tributaries, flood risk remains high for communities along all major rivers.

According to Civil Protection, there have been 47 landslides over the weekend, causing damages to highways and bridges; one death has been reported in El Salvador; and some 900 people are currently in shelters.  According to the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), the municipality of Tecoluca, where SHARE counterpart CRIPDES San Vicente is located, is at high risk for flooding, and various municipalities in Chalatenango are at moderate risk, along with some thirty other zones of the country. As continued rains fall, risk for flooding and landslides increase. Read More »

Spotlighting Sisters: Cretin-Derham Hall, Teaching and Living for Justice

September 24, 2010

Thank you to SHARE promoter, Phelia Lorenzen, for writing this Spotlighting Sister article for us. Thanks to the teachers and students at CDH for their support in writing it!

Affirmation of an old adage: How one step towards a quest leads to a lifelong journey.

CDH kids at the river in San Vicente

A few years ago, a few students from Cretin-Derham Hall (CDH hereafter), a Catholic high school in St. Paul, Minnesota, were invited to attend a delegation to El Salvador with Brother Dennis Beach of St. John’s Abbey. CDH is committed to the Catholic social teaching of justice, and students were curious about Brother Dennis’ passion for this tiny Latin American country. One step. Today, CDH is committed to accompanying the people of El Salvador. Each summer, one or two delegations of students travel to the department of San Vicente. Through SHARE and CRIPDES San Vicente, they stay in the community, play with the kids, share stories with young people, visit historic sites, stand in the chapel where Archbishop Romero was murdered, walk the blood-soaked grounds of El Mozote, and learn about advocacy actions they can take at home. The journey begins. These young adults are transformed and will take social justice to the highest level wherever their lives take them. A lifelong journey. Read More »

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