The SHARE Blog

Salvadoran remittances drop 11 percent in 2009

August 20, 2009


El Salvador’s central bank says the money citizens living abroad sent home during the first seven months of this year dropped 11 percent compared to the same period in 2008.

The bank says remittances between January and July reached $2 billion in the Central American country compared to $2.2 billion during the same period last year.

In a report issued Monday, the bank blamed the decrease on rising unemployment in the United States, especially among Latin American immigrants.

Remittances represent the largest source of legal foreign income. About 2.5 million Salvadorans live in the United States.

-Associated Press

Community Activists in Cabañas are Receiving Death Threats

August 5, 2009

Less than a month after the assassination of Marcelo Rivera, an increasing number of activists from the northern Department of Cabañas report to be receiving death threats. Like Marcelo, the targeted people have been outspoken against mining and have denounced electoral fraud. They also have called for a full investigation into Marcelo’s killing. The death threats seem to be linked to the murder since often they refer that the victims will “end up just like Marcelo.” Click here to see a video in Spanish about death threats that activists have received.

The first to receive death threats were three young reporters who work for Radio Victoria. José Beltrán, Ludwing Iraheta and Vladimir Abarca explained in a press conference that after they began to cover the disappearance and murder of Marcelo they started to receive hand written and phone death threats. Radio officials denounced this situation to the police (PNC), the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman and the Office of the Attorney General. Read More »

Over 100 organizations demand an investigation of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera’s Murder

San Salvador, El Salvador. One hundred and eight international organizations sent last Friday July 24, a letter to the Salvadoran Acting Attorney General, Ástor Escalante Savaria, demanding an exhaustive investigation of the kidnapping and brutal murder of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera Moreno. Among the signatory organizations are the Salvadoran American National Association (SANA) and the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA). Gustavo Marcelo Rivera was from San Isidro, Department of Cabañas. He disappeared on June 18th and his body was found 11 days later with signs of terrible torture according to a forensic report.

In the letter the organizations vehemently reject the statements that prosecutor Rodolfo Delgado gave to the media, expressing that the hypothesis of the crime is that Rivera was killed by gang members after a disagreement. According to the organizations, by attributing the motives of the crime to common violence, the prosecutor is discarding a priori the existence of intellectual authors of this assassination.

Rivera was a renowned leader in the struggle against mining in El Salvador and in addition he played a key role at denouncing the electoral fraud that resulted in the suspension of the municipal elections in San Isidro in January 2009. For this reason the international organizations consider that there is enough evidence to suggest that that the crime was committed for political reasons and that “the failure to investigate this motives , including the slow response of the police in the initial search for Marcelo constitute serious irregularities that need to be investigated and corrected.” Read More »

El Salvador’s Gold Fight

July 17, 2009

This is another very informative article about the Gold Mining in El Salvador. Written by Michael Busch and posted on the Foreign Policy in Focus website.

As El Salvador transitions from decades of conservative rule to the administration of leftist President Mauricio Funes, the country faces an international showdown triggered by a restrictive free-trade agreement between the United States and Central America. Canada’s Pacific Rim Mining Corporation is suing the government for its refusal to allow it to mine gold in El Salvador’s rural north. If Pacific Rim succeeds in securing the $100 million settlement it seeks, that would set a troubling precedent. At stake is a question that affects all nations: Can private interests trump national sovereignty under international law?

Click here to read the rest.

Public opposition brings ban on gold mining in El Salvador

This is a great article written about the opposition to mining in El Salvador. It can be found on the Progressio website.

El Salvador has become the first country in the world to ban gold mining, thanks in part to opposition from Salvadorean civil society.

The key role played by Salvadorean civil society in achieving the ban has been recognised by an international human rights award for the El Salvador National Committee Against Metal Mining, with which Progressio works closely. An umbrella organisation of Salvadorean human rights groups, the Committee set out to raise awareness and carry out advocacy work in order to make the Salvadorean government take action against the problem.

Nicoletta Marinelli, a Progressio development worker who has coordinated the Committee’s communications work, explains: “Metal mining contaminates surface and subterranean waters with cyanide and heavy metals. In Central America it has caused health problems which have mainly affected women and children.

“It has also displaced and divided communities, generating new outbreaks of conflict in a region which is still recovering from the wounds inflicted during decades of civil war.” Read More »

Alert: First Victim of the Struggle against Mining in El Salvador

July 16, 2009

Dear friends,

With great sadness the SHARE Foundation informs you of the brutal murder of Marcelo Rivera, a great community leader from San Isidro, in the northern department of Cabañas. He was kidnapped on June 18th, 2009, near the town of Ilobasco, Cabañas. On July 1st, his body was found inside a dry well. DNA tests were conducted and confirmed that the body belonged to Marcelo. His belongings were found in a nearby abandoned house in the middle of a corn field. According to the medical examiner, Marcelo was kept alive several days after his disappearance. His body showed signs of brutal torture typical of a death squad killing.

However on Thursday July 9, a prosecutor from the Attorney General’s Office, Rodolfo Delgado, declared that 4 gang members had been captured as suspects for the crime. Delgado’s hypothesis is that Marcelo had been drinking with the gang members the night of his disappearance and that they killed him after a fight. Delgado discounted the political motives of the crime, and solely attributed Marcelo’s murder to gang violence that did not merit investigation. Marcelo’s family and social justice organizations strongly rejected these assertions. Miguel Rivera, Marcelo’s brother expressed, “To say that my brother died at the hands of gang members is not a credible story and it becomes an insult to our family. My brother was tortured; he was alive for 9 days after his disappearance. His trachea was broken with a nylon cord when they strangled him, forcing his arm toward his face. This is not the work of gang members; it is a crime of torture.” Read More »

La Pagina de Maiz

July 8, 2009

Cada semana, Equipo Maiz, un organazation para la Educación Popular y contraparte de SHARE, publica La Pagina de Maiz. Para leer la publicación de la semana, haz click en el link.

Honduras: Cuando la derecha se enloquece

Anti-Mining Activist Disappears!

July 7, 2009

The SHARE Foundation denounces the disappearance of Marcelo Rivera, a renowned leader in the community of San Isidro in the northern department of Cabañas. Marcelo was last seen in the afternoon of June 18th near the town of Ilobasco, Cabañas. He was wearing a Bishop Oscar Romero t-shirt and blue jeans. Marcelo’s family, friends, and community members are desperately searching for him. They suspect that he may have been abducted for political reasons. Marcelo was one of the main FMLN leaders who denounced the presence of foreigners trying to vote illegally in San Isidro during the January 18th municipal elections. As a result, elections were suspended in the town and conducted a week later under strict oversight. Marcelo is a leader in the social resistance movement against the Canadian mining corporation, Pacific Rim. The mining company has been exploring for gold in the El Dorado mine located in Cabañas. Pacific Rim is currently suing El Salvador under CAFTA because the government has refused to grant the company permits to begin gold mining extraction.

Marcelo Rivera is a 37 year-old teacher who works as the Director of San Isidro’s Casa de la Cultura, a community center dedicated to promoting the local culture. Marcelo is also a founding member and Director of Friends of San Isidro Cabañas (ASIC), which is a member organization of the National Working Group Against Mining in El Salvador (La Mesa). In addition, Marcelo is an FMLN leader at the local level, serving as a party board member in the Cabañas chapter. This week, communities in San Isidro, ASIC, and other social organizations gathered in front of the Casa de la Cultura to express their concern and to pressure local and national authorities to begin investigations regarding the whereabouts of Marcelo. Students and teachers from San Isidro’s schools participated in the protest carrying signs asking authorities to stop violence, corruption, and impunity….Continue reading “Anti-Mining Activist Disappears.”

– Claudia Rodríguez, DC Policy Office Director

Lessons of a Mango Tree

Below is an essay written by Cretin-Derham Hall High School teacher and SHARE delegate, Ellie Roscher. The essay was originally published in Alive Magazine.

Lessons of a Mango Tree: Belief in New Life

The summer after my first year of teaching, I found myself sitting under a mango tree in the middle of El Salvador with a student named Sam. We sat on a bench together in a beautiful garden, looking at an intricate mural in an exotic country, yet the mood was somber and heavy.

Sam broke the silence we were sharing by whispering, “I do not understand, I cannot fathom how one person could ever kill a child.” I hoped he was not looking for his teacher to offer wisdom, because I had none. The world has the potential to be horrendously ugly.

In late July, 16 high school juniors, my two best co-worker friends and I left Minnesota to study the civil war in El Salvador. It was one of those trips that did enough filling to keep me full for quite some time. It was a journey that reinforced the idea that joy and sorrow come from the same well in our hearts. Our overscheduled lives of controlled routine were given up for guttural laughter and soul crushing tears within 10 minutes of each other. We sweated harder and experienced deeper joy and hurt in those 10 days than we had in the previous year of our formerly guarded, air-conditioned lives.

There is a part of the human spirit that knows that all humans have inherent worth and dignity. That part of the human spirit will always cry out for freedom, land, food, water, love and life. In the 1970s, a few families owned most of the land in El Salvador, and the people rose up out of their desperation. With the support of liberation theology and the Jesuit order, the guerillas went to war with the government in hopes of gaining more land, rights and power for the people….Continue reading “Lessons of a Mango Tree.”

*Illustration by Meghan Hanson.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

More photos from Honduran coup

July 6, 2009

Zelaya’s supports cheer as they watch his plane circle the city.

A woman shows her support for Zelaya in front of the riot police. Read More »

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