Past is Present in El Salvador
There is limited information and news regarding the new constitutional amendment for the Salvadoran government on making marriage only between a man and a women, but the following article was posted on the Melbourne Community Voice for Gay and Lesbian Readers:
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Members of El Salvador’s gay community hang a rainbow flag bearing the words ‘Paedophile Priests’ in Spanish outside the Legislative Assembly in San Salvador on Monday, April 20, 2009 to protest the Catholic Church’s request to legally prohibit marriages between gays.
The action is a response to the Church’s claim to have amassed 200,000 signatures on a petition in support of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, which is currently before the legislature.
“The basic unit of society is the family, and consequently so is marriage, and therefore it deserves a true constitutional definition,” the Archbishop of San Salvador, Jose Luis Escobar, said at a press conference on Sunday. He went on to say same-sex marriages “are not moral and therefore cannot be considered marriage, but in fact are [unions], but that’s another thing,” the website SDPNoticias.com reports.
The LGBT movement in El Salvador has continuously fought for job security and simple recognition. They have not fought for marriage, but ARENA has pushed this agenda and now we will find out today if the Legislative Assembly will pass the amendment.
*Photo courtesy of the Melbourne Community Voice for Gay and Lesbian Readers.
-Posted by Gregory Stock, Communications and Development Officer
Thirty-four heads of state and government attended the fifth Summit of the Americas this past weekend (April 17-19) in Trinidad and Tobago. For the first time since the Summit of the Americas began in 1994, free trade was not the focus of the discussion. Rather, Cuba was a major topic of discussion, with some leaders hoping that Cuba will be invited to the next Summit of the Americas, as well as immigration.
The tone of the Summit was notably different from previous Summits under the government of President Bush. While Obama proponed that he wanted a new, more mutual relationship between the US and Latin America, many leaders remain skeptical. Brazil’s president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said prior to the Summit, “I’m going to ask the United States to take a different view of Latin America. We’re a democratic, peaceful continent, and the United States has to look at the region in a productive, developmental way, and not just think about drug
trafficking or organized crime.”
At the summit, Obama and many of the other presidents drew upon Obama’s race for optimism for social progress in the region. Obama included comments about his race in his remarks about Latin America being the most unequal region of the world, and identifying himself with the lower classes that have notbenefit ted from US ties with the economic elite of Latin America. Obama intends to address this disparity between the rich and the poor. While Chavez sees potential for increasing understanding with the poor, Bolivian President Evo Morales was less optimistic. An official commented, “Morales said to [Obama], ‘I can see publicly that there has been a change, that you have learned’ — and then he mentioned his race — ‘but that the actions of your people on the ground in my country are no different.”
- Leslie O’Bray, SHARE Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern
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
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 »
Jon Santiago from the Huffington Post recently visited El Mozote, a small town in the Morazan department of El Salvador, where he learned about the infamous massacre of nearly 1,000 people by the Salvadoran military in 1981. After describing in brutal detail the events that transpired, the writer criticized the US government’s involvement with the Salvadoran civil war. He points out that both El Salvador and the United States have new, left-leaning governments and asks, “Hopes are high right now, why not drive them even higher? Why not internalize, and fully recognize, all of our past mistakes rather than bury them amidst generalizations that serve only to excuse?”
The writer noted that the story of El Mozote should not be forgotten and should be passed down to future generations to avoid such horrendous mistakes. He ruminates, “Perhaps, like fear, stress, and salt, a national sense of guilt would, in moderation, be healthy.”
To read the full article in the Huffington Post, click here.
- Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator
Angus Reid Global Monitor published an article that says current Salvadoran President Antonio Saca will finish his term with a favorable rating. LPG Datos conducted a poll that showed Saca’s performance rating is 6.2 on a scale of one to ten.
La Prensa Grafica has a running discussion about these results. One reader was skeptical of the validity of the results, because of his party’s (ARENA) recent loss in the presidential election due in large part to party’s poor management.
Another said of the poll: “Credible…in spite of the tireless attempts of the communists in an insatiable campaign to discredit ARENA, it [ARENA] has given us good governments. The most important thing is that they know what they are doing; there are not hidden agendas, the people know it and hope that they continue having an open book like that. Saca has done a good job with the compatriots in the United States, applying and promoting the re-inscription of the TPS*…” Read More »
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
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 »
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 »