The SHARE Blog

SHARE delegate reflects on experience as an international observer

April 8, 2009

Jeannie Berwick, a SHARE delegate who monitored the presidential elections in March, reflects below on her experience as an international observer.

“Salvadorans, you have the sky for your hat, so great is your dignity.”

So begins the song that became the popular anthem of El Salvador’s poor communities as they resisted military repression during their country’s civil war that formally ended with the 1992 Peace Accords.

On March 15, 2009, seventeen years after the war, we witnessed the great dignity of ordinary Salvadorans as they voted in elections that were miraculously absent of the violence that has characterized the Salvadoran political process for generations.

We were in El Salvador, along with thousands of people from several countries, to serve as accredited international election observers. Our delegation of 150 people from 18 states was sponsored by the SHARE Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has accompanied El Salvador’s poor for over twenty-five years, through twelve years of war and now in the arduous process of rebuilding. Read More »


“El Salvador Elections: the Ghosts of Izalco”


Emily Achtenberg, a delegate from SHARE’s electoral observation mission, wrote this article about her experience on Election Day in Izalco, Sonsonate. Izalco is the site of the 1932 peasant uprising that became known as “La Matanza” (the slaughter). Due to great inequality between peasants and landowners and a fall in coffee prices, rebels rose up behind communist leader Augustín Farabunto Martí. The US backed dictator, Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, quelled the revolt in a few days, killing around 30,000 peasants.

March 15, 2009 – 4:45 AM

As we approach the voting center in Izalco where our international observer team will be stationed, the weight of history is hard to escape. Both the left and right of El Salvador trace their political roots to this small town in the western coffee-growing department of Sonsonate. Read More »


Father Miguel Vasquez visits Kansas City to commemorate Oscar Romero

April 7, 2009

The article below provides coverage of Father Miguel Vasquez’s recent tour to Kansas City, MO, sponsored by the SHARE Foundation, the Kansas City Sister Parish Committee, and St. Sabina Parish. Father Miguel (in photo at left), from Arcatao, El Salvador, spoke to the community about his memories of Oscar Romero, who was assassinated before he was scheduled to ordain Father Miguel to become a priest. Below is an article written by Kevin Kelly for the Catholic Key.

Father Miguel Vasquez Hernandez knew the four U.S. women missionaries who were raped and murdered by Salvadoran National Guard soldiers in December 1980.

As a newly ordained priest, he served the same poor in the same area of the country as did Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and lay missioner Jean Donovan. Read More »


A new environment towards mining

April 6, 2009

Just five years ago, the Glencairn Gold Corp. said Central America was “a top destination for mining companies” where the political situation “encourage[s] mineral exploration and mining.” Yesterday, the Global Post published this article on the changing prospects for mining companies in the region, largely due to strong anti-mining campaigns.

The Catholic Church has been vocal in the anti-mining protests that seem to be impacting the government’s stance toward mining. In Guatemala, two mining activists were murdered and a bishop received a death threat, which may have prompted the government to halt the distribution of mining permits. During this six month moratorium, the Guatemalan government will consider a new law that which would require mining companies to give 4% of the profits to the government, an increase from the current requirement of 1%.

Read More »


Ministerial decree to reduce homophobia in health services


The Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance of El Salvador approved a decree to reduce homophobia in health care services as part of the country’s National Plan on HIV Prevention.

According to an article by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, a country progress report from 2008 indicated that human rights violations as a main barrier to an effective response to the spread of AIDS in El Salvador. This new decree, therefore, is one of several actions being taken to “reduce homophobia and any type of discrimination based on sexual orientation in the health services.” To measure the health providers’ accountability to this decree, the Minister has asked that health institutions report back how they have reduced homophobia in their health services, though it is unclear what standards would be used or actions would be taken to sanction those who do not make improvements. Read More »


CAUSA issues press release on El Salvador’s historic election


CAUSA, an Oregon-based immigrant rights organization, issued a press release about SHARE’s election delegation and Funes’ commitment to work with the United States on immigration. Francisco Lopez, CAUSA’s Executive Director and SHARE delegate and board member, stated “The historic election of President Funes offers an important opportunity for President Obama to work towards mending relations with people who view the United States as historic supporters of repressive regimes.”

To read the press release, click here.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator


“Take off the ‘Cold War’ glasses concerning Latin America”

April 1, 2009

Below is an article written by Ollie Jefferson, one of 19 members of the National Lawyers Guild that participated as a delegate in SHARE’s Election Observation Mission. The article, published in the Star Telegram, talks about her experience observing the Presidential Elections in March.

Joined by other members of the National Lawyers Guild, I was part of a delegation of international election observers who went to El Salvador to witness its March 15 presidential elections.

The delegation was sponsored by the SHARE Foundation, which has programs in El Salvador designed to meet basic human needs and build long-term solutions to poverty and social injustice.

Our participation, independent of the U.S. government, was an effort to see whether the elections were fair. While I have had hundreds of Salvadorans as clients and empathize with what they have suffered, my participation as a certified presidential electoral observer required objectivity. Read More »


Cyanide spills into a river at a mining site in Honduras


Cyanide spilled into the Lara River at a mining site in San Andrés Minas, Honduras, after a rock ruptured the tube transporting it. At 11:45 p.m. on March 19, a tractor suddenly dropped a large rock that hit a 50-60 centimeters thick tube transporting cyanide to clean the extracted metals. The puncture caused a stream of cyanide to spill out into the Lara River, resulting in the deaths of thousands of fish.

According to Minosa, the mining company, 150 gallons of the cyanide solution fell into the river, though residents fear the quantity was greater than that since the employers did not notice the spill until a few hours after it had happened.

The next morning, the district attorney in the community arrived to inspect the damage, as well as representatives from the Catholic Church, human rights organizations, and other social organizations. Findings showed that the cyanide reached 300 meters from the spill, but there was not any cyanide detectable 400 meters away. Read More »


Ad-Hoc Commission on Mining dissolves


In the Diario CoLatino, the Mesa Nacional Frente a la Mineria Metalica wrote an opinion piece on the dissolution of the Ad-Hoc Commission on Mining on March 19, 2009. The Commission was formed in the beginning of 2007 in order to discuss the proposal of a new mining law put together by the Canadian mining company, Pacific Rim, and presented by legislators from the PCN (National Conciliation Party) political party. Read More »


Pictures of election observation in San Salvador

March 31, 2009

Claudia Rodriguez-Alas, SHARE’s DC Policy Office Director, has uploaded pictures of SHARE’s Election Observation Delegation. Most of her photos take place in different voting centers in San Salvador. To view the photos, click here.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator


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