The SHARE Blog

Women’s Participation in Salvadoran Politics – Tim’s Blog

February 24, 2009

On February 22, 2009, Tim’s Blog posted the following analysis of the UCA’s research on women’s participation in politics in El Salvador:

“The sociology and political sciences department of the University of Central America has taken a look at the participation of women in the recently held elections for mayor and deputies to the National Assembly.

Of the 1147 persons running for mayor in municipalities across El Salvador, only 115 (11.5%) were women. A scant 29 of those women won their elections in the 262 municipalities in the country.

Of 427 persons nominated by political parties for the National Assembly, only 103 (24.1%) were women. The elections resulted in women being 16 of the 84 deputies.

The graphic below shows the relative percentages of men(green) and women (blue) as legislators and mayors after the elections:

As the article points out, ‘the data demonstrate that there is no equality of conditions for the participation of women in politics and that inside the parties little has been done so that women can have realistic possiblities of being elected.’ “

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

El Salvador Pulls Out of Iraq War

February 20, 2009

At the beginning of this month, the last Salvadoran troops serving in Iraq came home, ending a five and a half year involvement in the war in Iraq. For the last four years, El Salvador was the only Latin American country that continued to send troops to Iraq after Honduras and the Dominican Republic pulled out in 2004. Many Salvadorans were angry at their government for involving Salvadoran citizens in the war, believing that the five Salvadoran troops who were killed and the 20 who were injured suffered needlessly. In 2004, a New York Times reporter interviewed the mother of a Salvadoran soldier who was killed in the war, and Ms. Herminia Ramos cried, “I got through our war [the Salvadoran civil war] without losing any of my family, and now my son was sent to fight in someone else’s war.”

Although the Salvadoran Army will no longer participate in the war in Iraq, private contracting companies will continue to recruit Latin Americans to be a part of their security forces. In 2005, there were 338 Salvadoran soldiers on the ground in Iraq, but there were twice as many Salvadorans working for private contracting companies. One Salvadoran police officer, Sgt. Arturo Lopez (pictured above) says he was offered six times his normal salary to work for a contracting company as a security guard in Iraq. Many worry about the motives of private contracting firms that are recruiting police and military officials from Latin America, especially from countries who have had recent wars like El Salvador and whose officers were trained in the infamous School of the Americas. There is real concern that these firms are recruiting known human rights violators.

The SHARE Foundation celebrates the return of Salvadoran troops from Iraq, but we also remain wary of the Salvadoran government’s embrace of militarization both in country and abroad. Let us hope that if President Obama escalates the war in Afghanistan, Salvadorans will not be sent there as well.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

Unimaginable Pain and Exquisite Beauty

The following post is a testimony by Lisa Dennison, a parishioner at St. Patrick’s Church in Seattle, WA, of her trip to El Salvador last summer through SHARE.

Unimaginable Pain and Exquisite Beauty

“Sin abounds, but grace abounds even more.” These words from Dean Brackley, SJ, of the UCA (University of Central America) perfectly describe my experience in El Salvador with our delegation this past June. It was a place of unimaginable pain and exquisite beauty.

I had been praying for an opportunity to leave my comfort zone – and our God answered my prayer abundantly. Intense heat, intense stories, and intense faith were things I experienced, and like all pilgrims, I could not remain unchanged by the reality that was set before me. Read More »

Pacific Rim freezes study on mining in El Dorado

February 19, 2009

Vancouver-based Pacific Rim Mining Company announced on February 11 that it will defer completion of its feasibility study for mining in El Dorado. The volatility of costs (both fuel and steel prices are down, meaning current capital prices appear artificially low) does not currently provide an accurate estimate on commodity prices and capital equipment.

CEO Tom Shrake said, “We see no need to spend precious capital to complete a study with an already invalid cost basis. We will wait for clarity on the timing of our permit and stabilization of the prices for capital and operating inputs.”

On December 9, 2008, Pacific Rim filed a Notice of Intent against the Salvadoran government, claiming that failing to grant an extraction permit violated investor rights under CAFTA-DR. It has received much resistance because of the serious health and environmental implications mining has on communities including the prospect of dislocation. The Salvadoran Government and Pacific Rim have until March 9, 2009 to settle the dispute amicably before Pacific Rim has the right to bring the issue before a third party.

To read the article in Mining Weekly, click here.

To read more about the background of the issue, see SHARE’s E-newsletter.

-Leslie O’Bray, Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

Civil Society Raises Awareness of Violence against Women in El Salvador

January 26, 2009

To commemorate the Day of Non-Violence against Women, more than 2,000 women marched to Legislative Assembly demanding the Salvadoran state to step up their role in preventing violence and promoting justice for women.

The women called for the Legislative Assembly to pass the Facultative Protocol of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW would classify femicide, the systematic muderer of women, as a crime in the Penal Code and enact a number of policies and programs to ensure a woman’s right to live a life free of violence.

According to the Organization of Salvadoran Women for Peace (ORMUSA), an organization working for equality and empowerment of women, assassinations of women have been increasing since 1999. In the last eight years, femicides increased from 195 in 1999 to 337 in 2007. In the first nine months of 2008 alone 256 women were assassinated – indicating that at least one woman is killed every day. Read More »

Christmas Season Hard on Immigrants

December 22, 2008

According to an article in the Washington Post today, the Metro DC Latino communities are suffering this holiday season due to the crippling economic recession. Day laborers and construction workers have been hit particularly hard as service industries are scaling back and construction is coming to a standstill. Latino-owned small businesses are experiencing major setbacks as many of their clients have lost their jobs.

Travel agencies say they have sold very few round trip tickets to Central and South America, but they are currently surviving off of one-way tickets to countries like El Salvador and Guatemala. More and more immigrants are “giving up on the U.S. economy after years of legal residency.” Pedro Guadrón, an immigrant from El Salvador said, “I was proud to buy a house, but this year we had to take in relatives to help pay the mortgage. The way I feel right now, Christmas doesn’t even exist for me.”

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

150 Soldiers Currently Occupying the Community of El Papaturro in Suchitoto

December 17, 2008

This morning, three large trucks carrying a total of 150 soldiers armed with heavy artillery entered the community of El Papaturro, in the zone of La Bermuda, Suchitoto. The soldiers have set up a military camp and said that they will be in the community for the next three days doing “military maneuvers.” The mayor of Suchitoto has called the police and regional military base, and has been given no further information about the soldiers.

This act of aggression comes after the Salvadoran government recently declared that it as intelligence of secret armed groups active in various parts of El Salvador, including the region of La Bermuda, Suchitoto. Although the government continues to speak about these groups, which they link to the opposition party, the FMLN, they have shared no evidence to prove their existence. The government has implied that these supposed groups are a revival of guerrilla soldiers from the Civil War, and a threat to the Salvadoran military. Read More »

El Salvador Responds to Pacific Rim’s Legal Action

In response to Pacific Rim Mining Company’s December 9 announcment of filing a Notice of Intent (NOI) to arbitrate against the Salvadoran government under CAFTA for failing to grant mining exploitation permits, notable figures in Salvadoran civic and religious society have taken a stand against the mining company. On December 14 after a mass in the metropolitan cathedral, the Archbishop of San Salvador, Fernando Sáenz Lacalle criticized Pacific Rim, “It is not right to risk the health of the people and damage the environment so that a few who do not live here can take 97% of the juicy earnings but they leave us with 100% of the cyanide.” His statement is consistent with those made by the participants of the Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops in El Salvador in 2007, where the Bishops released a statement of opposition to gold and silver mining in El Salvador.

The Mesa de Minería, the Salvadoran national coalition of anti-mining groups, issued a press release following Pacific Rim’s announcement. The Mesa urged people from all sectors of Salvadoran society to protest Pacific Rim Mining Company. The Mesa also promoted its most recent campaign, “I Reject Metallic Mining: Sign the Citizen’s Letter,” which demands that the Salvadoran president, Antonio Saca, not approve mining projects and calls for the Legislative Assembly endorse a law the prohibits metallic mining.

Click here to visit the Mesa de Minería’s website and sign the Citizen’s Letter against mining.

– Sara Skinner, SHARE Foundation

FMLN Presidential Candidate to Speak in Washington, DC Tomorrow

December 11, 2008

Mauricio Funes, FMLN presidential candidate, will speak at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Washington, DC on Friday, December 12, 2008. The event, sponsored by the FMLN, will begin at 4:30PM, and Mauricio Funes is expected to speak at 5:30PM. SHARE Foundation is not co-sponsoring the event, but we encourage folks in the area to attend to hear what the presidential candidate has to say.

Wesley United Methodist Church is located at the UDC-Van Ness metro stop on the red line. The L1, L2, and L4 buses also stop near the church.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

Antonio Saca Scheduled to Visit White House Next Week

President Bush will be meeting with Salvadoran President Antonio Saca on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at the White House. In a White House press release on December 8, 2008, the White House stated that the two out-going country leaders will discuss “a range of issues, including their shared commitment to strengthening democracy and advancing economic development.”

Read the press release here.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

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