Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

Que Viva la Democracia! Moving forward on Mining Ban

September 25, 2014

mining sjlf

Photo Cred: International Allies Against Mining in El Salvador

The municipality of San Jose Las Flores in Chalatenango, one of El Salvador’s northern departments bordering Honduras, historically has found itself in struggles for rights to resources located in the region.  Up until September 21st, 2014, this narrative prevailed. The citizens of San Jose Las Flores decided to put Salvadoran democracy to the test. Last Saturday, the municipality held a community consultation regarding foreign mineral mining on their land, an act that would contaminate local and national  water sources and force them to relocate. 67% of those eligible to vote, an impressive turnout, arrived at the various voting centers within the municipality to let their voices be heard. A resounding 99% voted down the mining proposition. According to Salvadoran municipal code and national law, this consultation is legally binding. San Jose Las Flores became the first town to completely ban mining. This area, as long as the law is upheld, is the only municipality in El Salvador to protect its natural resources in this manner.

This community consultation not only legitimizes Salvadoran democracy in Chalatenango but it also gives hope to the rest of the country. Currently, the government of El Salvador is being sued in a World Bank tribunal for not allowing Canadian/Austrialian mining company, PacificRim/OceanaGold to operate in El Salvador.  The company filed the case on the grounds that El Salvador acted against the free market agreements between North and Central America. OceanaGold identifies northern El Salvador as a lucrative gold production site. However, the Salvadoran government denied their request for permits in recognition of the environmental, health, and social implications of gold mining. If the company wins, the government will be forced to either allow OceanaGold to mine or to pay the company a fine amounting in hundreds of millions of dollars. There is no speculation when it comes to assessing the environmental and societal impacts on El Salvador if PacificRim/OceanaGold wins the case. Neighboring Honduras allows mining extraction, which has since left the rivers toxic, complicating access to clean water sources, and introducing hundreds of cases of skin disease. National borders don’t keep polluted waters from flowing in to the next country. Mining in Honduras (not to mention if mining begins in the northern region of El Salvador), has provoked great concern over cyanide entering the Lempa River watershed. This particular watershed provides over half the Salvadoran population with water for cooking, cleaning, washing, and drinking, including the majority of the population in San Salvador.

There are also social implications attributed to mining in Honduras. The mining issue pits family members and neighbors against each other. On one side, there are those whose livelihoods depend on the jobs provided by the mining industry. However, there are others raising awareness of the environmental and health repercussions caused by mining exploitation. This same issue already burdens Salvadoran society.

As people in solidarity with El Salvador, we cannot let that happen. We want to see more large scale action like that in San Jose Las Flores.  Let your voice be heard today and sign this petition demanding that OceanaGold drop the case and get out of El Salvador!

Tell Your Congressperson to Take Action!

March 15, 2014

On March 13, 2013 at 1:45 a.m., the Salvadoran Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) held a press conference announcing the final election results. The FMLN won 50.11% of the vote with 1,495,815 votes and ARENA 49.89% with 1,489,451 votes (see the press release here). However, the TSE has yet to declare Salvador Sanchez Ceren the official president elect, as first they have to rule on legal requests ARENA submitted to nullify the elections, claiming that 20,000 FMLN poll workers voted twice.
Given the declarations by the Attorney General that there was no fraud in the elections, and the statements by the OAS, United Nations and many observation groups noting the transparency and efficiency of the elections, ARENA’s claims have no substance.

YOU can take action today to help ensure that the people’s vote is respected!

Call on your Congressperson and ask him/her to:

  • Make a public statement in support of the institutional authority of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and for El Salvador’s legally-established electoral procedures to be respected.
  • Call on President Obama to congratulate the President-elect once the winner has been officially declared by the Electoral Tribunal.
  • Read More »

ARENA Continues to Seek to Nullify Vote Despite Statements from United Nations and OAS Noting Transparency of Elections

March 13, 2014

Last night a quarter after midnight the Salvadoran Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) finished its final vote count. At 1:45 a.m. they held a press conference announcing the results. The FMLN won 50.11% of the vote with 1,495,815 votes and ARENA 49.89% with 1,489,451 votes (see the press release here). However, the TSE has yet to declare Salvador Sanchez Ceren the official president elect, as first they have to rule on legal requests ARENA submitted to nullify the elections, claiming that 20,000 FMLN poll workers voted twice.
Given the declarations by the Attorney General that there was no fraud in the elections, and the statements by the OAS, United Nations and many observation groups noting the transparency and efficiency of the elections, the request will likely be rejected.
This morning, a couple hundred smiling members of various civil society organizations including FESPAD, the MPR-12, the Health Forum, and Pro-Busqueda gathered in front of the Salvador del Mundo Statue with signs stating “Respeto a la Democracia”/I respect Democracy. María Silvia Guillén, director of FESPAD, emphasized the transparency and legitimacy of the TSE, calling on all Salvadorans regardless of their political colors to respect the government’s institutions. 
Margarita Posada, coordinator of the National Health Forum read a press release titled “For Peace, Victory, and Dignity” noting that this is a transcendental moment in the history of El Salvador that has put to the test the government institutions and culture of peace and democracy, recognizing these elections as the most transparent yet, and congratulating the Salvadoran people for their participation in a peaceful elections, creating an environment of civic responsibility. Posada highlighted the work of the TSE to ensure the inclusion of the LGBT community and disabled persons.
Stay tuned to the SHARE blog and Facebook page for more updates.

TSE Announces Official Results of the Final Count

The following is a translation of a press statement issued by the Salvadoran Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE)


At 1:50am on March 13 the Salvadoran Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced the results of the second round of the 2014 presidential elections.

The president of the TSE, Eugenio Chicas, divulged the results to an audience that stayed through the end of the count, many of whom were journalists waiting in the disclosure room.

After the final count, the data approved by the collegial body with the unanimous support of the TSE is the following:

The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) received 1,495,815 votes, representing 50.11% of the vote; the National Republican Alliance (ARENA) received 1,489,451 votes, representing 49.89% of the vote. The total number of valid votes was 2,985,266 with a difference of 6,364 between the two parties.

In their message they did not fail to acknowledge the enormous help of many international organizations, observer delegations, national organizations, the Electoral Supervisory Board, the Attorney General of the Republic, the Human Rights Ombudsman, the technicians, clerks, the press for their many hours of work, the contending political parties, the union of the TSE, the workers, and the collegial body, “We feel very satisfied with the work that has been accomplished, which has not been easy, there were distortions of information due to the way in which the data was entered.”

“There was much political tension, this means that there were some departments that did not work at the same rate. This, without doubt, caused the anxiety of the long process. Nevertheless, we are satisfied with the agreement between the preliminary and final count.”

In this electoral process the TSE highlights the quality, the transparency, the safety, speed, and certainty that was in the first and final scrutiny of the vote.

ARENA Seeks to Nullify Election Results

March 12, 2014

On Sunday, March 9, 2014 Salvadorans voted to elect their president for the next five years. While FMLN candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren lead the preliminary vote count with a slim margin of 6,634 votes, El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has yet to declare an official winner.

The ARENA party has refused to accept that the FMLN has won the election, claiming the process has been marked by fraud. Yesterday at four in the afternoon, representatives of ARENA delivered a written statement to the TSE, announcing that ARENA would no longer participate in the final vote count process until the TSE ruled on their demand for a vote-by-vote recount. The TSE rejected ARENA´s petition because it violates the Salvadoran Electoral Code. According to Article 215 of the Salvadoran Electoral Code, the TSE may only do a vote-by-vote recount if the number of contested votes is greater than the margin of victory.  In these elections the number of contested votes (4,191) is less than the margin of victory (6,634), thus a vote-by-vote recount would be illegal.

Read More »

Supreme Electoral Tribunal to Announce Official Results this Tuesday

March 10, 2014

While the FMLN leads with 50.11% of the vote and 100% of Vote Receiving Boards (JRV) reporting, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has yet to declare a winner due to the narrow margin of victory. 

Vote Receiving boards (JRV) count the votes.

Vote Receiving boards (JRV) count the votes.

Although neither party can officially claim victory until the TSE has finished reviewing ballots on Tuesday, both the FMLN and ARENA announced themselves the victor.

Sunday evening, ARENA candidate Norman Quijano declared himself the winner with only 49.89% of the vote. Quijano accused the TSE of corruption stating, “We are not going to allow fraud. We are 100% certain that we have won. We will fight, if necessary, with our lives.” Quijano continued to elude to military intervention saying, “the armed forces are ready to defend democracy.”

In his acceptance speech FMLN candidate, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who received 6,634 more votes than Quijano, asked that the people’s right to vote is respected.

“The men and women of El Salvador are the ones who decide, and if you don’t accept the result, you are violating the will of the people,” Sanchez Ceren said. “I say to my adversary, to his party, that my administration will welcome them with open arms, so that together we can build a new country.”

Read More »

Who Will be the Next President of El Salvador? Open-Forum with Presidential Candidates

February 2, 2014

Tomorrow, eighty SHARE delegates will travel throughout El Salvador to participate as international observers in the 2014 Salvadoran Presidential elections.  

Yesterday, these delegates had the privilege of meeting the Vice Presidential candidate for the three largest political parties in this elections: FMLN, UNIDAD, and ARENA. While the political campaigns officially ended on Wednesday and political parties can no longer promote their candidate, the vice presidential candidates answered a series of questions covering the economy, security, and education.

To open the forum the first presenter, FMLN Vice Presidential candidate Oscar Ortiz began, “I want to thank CIS and SHARE for bringing you here to help the Democratic process. Thank you for accompanying us at this historic moment. I won’t ask you to vote, but I will tell you that we will win.”

Ortiz explained the FMLN’s top five priorities:

1. Grow the economy to both improve jobs and create more jobs

2. Education, invest more in the people of El Salvador

3. Security,guarantee greater safety for families and entire communities

  • Continue to lower the homicide rate
  • Reign in extortion
  • Reform the prison system in El Salvador

4. Continue with social inclusion programs

5. Strengthen the democratic system in El Salvador

Ortiz recognized that though the homicide rate in El Salvador has decreased from 83 per 100,000 in 2009 to 42 per 100,000 in 2013, too many Salvadorans continue to suffer from high levels of violence. The mass immigration to the United States has torn families apart and the FMLN will invest in children, art, community programs that will reconstruct the social fabric of Salvadoran society.

“We don’t want our biggest export to be people. We are grateful for the way people in the U.S. have received our people, but we need to ensure that our people can stay here.” said Ortiz.

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Meet Janet Rosas: SHARE Volunteer

January 28, 2014

Janet Rosas in China this past July, showing her school spirit!

Janet Rosas in China this past July, showing her school spirit!

With over seventy delegates about to descend for our 2014 Elections Observation Delegation, SHARE needed a few extra hands on deck. Janet Rosas, a Mexican-American Chicago-ite has come to make her mark on SHARE and accompany the Salvadoran people during this pertinent time, the 2014 elections! She will assist our Sistering Accompaniment  Coordinator Katy with the delegation from  Northwest Highschool, a sistering group from Seattle. Their group will spend the bulk of their time in the UCRES region deepening their relationship with the community of Huisisilapa.  She and the Northwesterners will  get to know the kind-hearted inhabitants while learning about their commitment to social transformation and justice.

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Remembering Romero: Interview with Father Fredis Sandoval

January 24, 2014

romeropic1Usted conoce quien es Oscar Romero? Que conoce de él?  Hay una conexión entre él y la democracia?// Do you know who Oscar Romero is?  What do you know about him?  Is there a connection between him and democracy?

“Sobre la tema me llama la atención su pasión y compromiso por el pueblo.  Su nivel de contacto de la realidad—personas, sectores sociales, comprensión de la complejidad y totalidad del país. Un ejemplo de esto es el diario pastoral de Monseñor Romero.  Es el mejor ejemplo de diversidad de contactos e interacciones que tuvo el—la versión del pueblo que trato de enseñar e impulsar al pueblo es interesante—como sujeto histórico y protagonista de su desarrollo.  Lo quiso como un pueblo consiente, informado, crítico, liberado y liberador. Él dijo, “…sin las raíces en el pueblo, ningún proyecto histórico tendrá éxito.” Él desarrolló mucho el tema del protagonismo del pueblo. Valoraba y analizaba el proyecto de la izquierda, la derecha y de la junta de gobierno surgido del último golpe de estado de 1979…”

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Why to Observe Democracy in El Salvador

January 22, 2014

"the ballot is stronger than the bullet" -Abraham Lincoln

“the ballot is stronger than the bullet” -Abraham Lincoln

One week remains until SHARE´s 2014 Elections observation delegation arrives. SHARE has brought observers to El Salvador for every presidential elections since 1994 – the first elections following the peace accords. What´s so important about observation in El Salvador?

One reason for observation is keeping tabs on how democratic the electoral system is. One of the factors that contributed to the war in El Salvador was the lack of a true democracy – from the absence of freedom of expression reflected in repression of those who critiqued the status quo, to the inability to effect changes through elections.

While the Salvadoran government has held elections since El Salvador was established as a republic and has long had constitutions granting the right to vote, control of the electoral process throughout the 1900s was extremely authoritarian, marked by fraud and manipulation. The official government party and the military typically coordinated to maintain control. In six out of nine elections between 1920 and 1970, a single candidate ¨competed¨ in the elections.

Read More »

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