The SHARE Blog

Support the SOA 6!

March 24, 2009

On January 26, six human rights advocates appeared in a federal courthouse in Georgia. The “SOA 6,” ranging in age from 21 to 68, were found “guilty” of carrying the protest against the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) onto the Fort Benning military base. The six were among the thousands who gathered on November 22 and 23, 2008 outside the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia to demand a change in U.S. policy towards Latin America and the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC.

The SOA 6 spoke out clearly and powerfully in court. They made a compelling case for the closure of the school and creation of a culture of justice and peace, where there is no place for the SOA mindset that promotes military “solutions” to social and economic problems. The six stood up for all of us working for a more just world.

One of the SOA 6 includes Sister Diane Pinchot, OSU (see picture above). Pinchot is a teacher and member of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland. A friend of hers, Sister Dorothy Kazel, was raped and murdered by soldiers in El Salvador who were trained at the SOA. “Dorothy’s death and the thousands of other deaths and disappearances taught us nothing, if today the same U.S. government is still training soldiers the skills of torture and war,” said Sister Diane.

To learn more about the SOA 6 and to take action, visit School of the Americas Watch’s website.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

Women Ask Funes to Create Policies that Guarantee Their Rights

The Salvadoran organization, Women Creators of Peace and Life, have asked the recently elected president of the Republic of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, to create policies that guarantee women’s rights during his tenure. The representatives of the organization state that women’s rights were not taken into consideration during the past twenty years of ARENA’s rule.

Some of the issues that many Salvadoran feminist organizations hope that the new government will address are reproductive rights, sex education, women’s labor, domestic violence, and the femicides.

The feminist organization, CEMUJER, has called for an end to the impunity for those responsible for the murder of women. In the last two months, sixty women have been murdered in El Salvador. Ima Rocio Guirola, a representative of CEMUJER, stated that there have been no concrete measures taken to stop the rate of femicides in El Salvador and believes that the Salvadoran government could help by passing the Comprehensive Law against Violence against Women. Since 2007, women’s organizations in El Salvador have urged the Salvadoran government to list femicide as a crime and to create a special police unit to investigate crimes against women. Perhaps with the election of Mauricio Funes to the presidency, the Salvadoran government will concern itself more with the needs and rights of women.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

A Sign of Things to Come?

The New York Times published an interesting article today about NAFTA’s unfilled promises in Mexico. The article points out that in many cases NAFTA has produced “exactly the opposite of what was promised,” and provides the following examples:

  • The dismantling of domestic industries as multinational companies choose to import from their own suppliers;
  • The inability for local farmers to compete with food imports; and
  • Emigration to the United States.

Given NAFTA’s failure 15 years after its implementation, what can we expect from DR-CAFTA? Mauricio Funes, El Salvador’s president-elect, has repeatedly stated that he does not support El Salvador’s withdrawal from the free trade agreement. Yet, as the food crisis continues and more and more Salvadorans leave the country in search of employment, will Funes change his mind?

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator


Interview with President-Elect Mauricio Funes

March 23, 2009

New America Media recently posted the interview below with President-elect Mauricio Funes after his win on March 15, 2009. In the interview Funes discusses immigration, US-El Salvador relations, and why he believes CAFTA should not be repealed.

Immigration has become one of the defining issues of the United States-El Salvador relationship. How will your administration’s immigration policies differ from those of the outgoing administration?

The fact that we’re going to rebuild the democratic institutions–enforce the constitution and make El Salvador a democratic state that respects the rule of law–is the best guarantee to the United States that we will significantly reduce the flows of out-migration.

Salvadorans who leave to the United States do so because of the institutional abandon, the lack of employment and dignified salaries to make a living. This forces them to leave in search of new possibilities in the United States. Read More »

Saca reiterates that he will not permit mineral extraction

March 3, 2009

Following an announcement that he will not give Pacific Rim extraction rights to the El Dorado area, President Saca reiterated that his administration will not support any mineral extraction.

Saca said that he will veto any law the Legislative Assembly tries to pass that allows mining on Salvadoran territory.

He emphasized the environmental ramifications that accompany mining, such as the health implications of using cyanide to extract gold. He made it clear that this administration will not support any mining project.

-Leslie O’Bray, SHARE Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

Spanish judge will hear the UCA murders case

A Spanish judge has agreed to investigate 14 Salvadoran military officers, and possibly former Salvadoran president Alfredo Cristiani, for the murders of six Jesuit priests and two women at the Central American University (UCA) in 1989. The ruling was in response to the Center for Justice and Accountability’s (CJA) lawsuit against Cristiani and the former military officers filed in November 2008.

Although far from an indictment, for many, the judge’s decision already feels like a victory for the cause of justice in El Salvador. In 1992, El Salvador’s government passed an amnesty law that provides amnesty to all perpetrators of war crimes during the country 12-year Civil War. Spain is able to prosecute the perpetrators of the Jesuit case under a legal principle called “universal jurisdiction,” through which Spain has pursued other high profile cases, including an attempt to extradite Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for torture. Read More »

Saca says he won’t grant Pac Rim permits, would rather pay CAFTA suit

March 2, 2009

President Antonio Saca recently declared that he will not grant extraction rights to Pacific Rim, a Canadian-based mining company that has been exploring gold mining options in El Dorado, El Salvador. His announcement comes just before the three-month period for the amicable negotiation between the government and company ends and the dispute goes before international arbitration. President Saca added, “I want to make something clear, I prefer to pay the $90 million dollars [for arbitration] than to give them a permit.”

President Saca stated that he wants a business that can demonstrate that its practices will not harm the environment. The idea of “green mining,” Saca says, is “a very superficial thing.”

Pacific Rim has invested about $70 million in El Dorado, and is arguing that to deny them extraction rights violates CAFTA-DR. They claim they have complied with all legal requests, and superseded the environmental laws and regulations. The government, however, says exploration rights do not oblige the government to give extraction rights.

There has been a lot of civil resistance to mining. The Catholic Church has been in open opposition, particularly under the new archbishop of San Salvador, Monseñor Luis Escobar Alas. Monseñor Alas publicly stated his support of Saca’s decision about mining, as did Roberto Rubio, director of the National Foundation for Development (FUNDE). Both men cited the environmental consequences of mining as a major concern.

-Leslie O’Bray, SHARE Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

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“Our heart is still there.”

February 25, 2009

A recent New York Times article reveals Salvadoran immigrants’ passion for and rapt attention to the upcoming presidential election in El Salvador, regardless of the fact that they live thousands of miles away. US chapters of Salvadoran political parties have campaigned in the United States, even though there are no absentee ballots for the million+ Salvadorans living outside of El Salvador. Nevertheless, savvy Salvadoran politicians recognize that families at home in El Salvador listen to their friends and family abroad in El Norte, especially since Salvadorans living in the US sent $3.8 billion in remittances in 2008. Yet, Salvadoran immigrants’ passion for the election on March 15 cannot just be chalked up to economic concerns. Daniel Navas, a 45 year-old Salvadoran immigrant who lives in New York explains, “Our heart is still there.”

To read the full article, click here.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

*Photo from NY Times.

¡El agua es nuestra!

February 24, 2009

More than 52,000 Salvadorans have signed a petition in support of a constitutional amendment for the right to safe, clean water – and hundreds of those signatories marched in San Salvador to personally deliver the document to the Legislative Assembly, reports the Latin American Herald Tribunal. According to the World Bank, El Salvador is the worst country with regard to providing access to clean water, yet the Legislative Assembly has yet to approve the amendment. The article cites ARENA (National Republican Alliance) deputies as the source of most of the opposition to the amendment. The ARENA party has strong ties to private businesses that wish to privatize water resources. However, with ARENA’s loss of seats in the Legislative Assembly, the possibility that the Legislative Assembly will approve the amendment looks more positive in May, when the new Legislative Assembly will take over.

SHARE Foundation supports Salvadorans’ demand for universal access to safe, clean drinking water. Privatization, mining, contamination by factories, and lack of sanitation services threaten communities’ access to water as well as the lives of Salvadoran citizens everyday. This year as SHARE celebrates the life and legacy of Monsignor Romero, we also ask our partners to raise awareness on water rights both in their own communities and abroad. To find out how you can support water rights in El Salvador, contact Sara Skinner at

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

Press for SHARE’s Election Observation Delegation

The SHARE Foundation and its partners have been in the news of late! As Election Day in El Salvador nears, our grassroots partners are holding fundraisers to support SHARE’s election observation delegation.

Over the weekend in Salem, OR, four college students showed documentaries that touch on human rights and social justice issues. The students were encouraged to take part of SHARE’s delegation by Salvadoran Lutheran Bishop, Medardo E. Gómez, who visited Salem in October. Julie Silverman, a graduate student at Columbia University in New York, told the Statesman Journal that she sees this delegation as an “opportunity to make a difference in the lives of disenfranchised Salvadorans. Julia’s sister, Bryn, plans to make a documentary of their experience. To read more about the event in Salem, click here.

On Saturday, February 21, in Washington, DC, a group of 16 American University students (see picture above) and their faculty advisor, Joe Eldridge, organized a concert and fundraiser for their delegation. The band, Nueva Cosecha, played traditional songs and pop songs, while guests munched on traditional Salvadoran cuisine. While the atmosphere was festive, the students were very serious about their participation in the upcoming delegation. José Henríquez, the co-student leader of the American University group, shared, “[The students] are learning the specific details of what it means to be part of an electoral observation mission, and the role that election observers play in a different country.” To read more about the event in Washington, DC, click here.

For more Salvadoran election coverage visit the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections’ blog.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

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