Posts Tagged ‘reparations’

Sanchez Ceren Commits to Reparations for Human Rights Violations

August 14, 2014

SHARE supports the Pro-Historical Memory Commission with a project to strengthen advocacy and take six cases of forced disappearance and one case of massacre to justice. Click here for current advocacy action opportunities in support of Pro-Memoria.

ProMemoria con Presidente Sanchez Ceren_Julio2014

Marina Ortiz with President Sanchez Ceren and First Lady Doña Margarita Villalta de Sanchez. (Courtesy Pro-Memoria)

True to his words in his inaugural address, President Sanchez Ceren has taken initial steps to establish coordination with the relatives of the disappeared and with the Pro-Historical Memory Commission to solidify a policy of reparations.

On Sunday, July 6th, Sanchez Ceren hosted representatives of each of the member organizations of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission and twenty-five relatives of the disappeared for a breakfast at the presidential residence.  The breakfast marks a symbolic commitment to work with victims and human rights organizations to address the still deep wounds left by egregious human rights violations during the war. Marina Ortiz, who participated as the representative of PROBUSQUEDA to the Pro-Historical Memory Commission commented “It was an important space for the victims, because it visibilizes them and the president showed a commitment to them.”

The following day, Monday July 7th, the president held a press conference announcing the creation of the Board of Directors of the Program of Reparations for Victims of the Armed Conflict, the committee created to oversee implementation of Executive Decree 204, a decree establishing a government program of reparations. The government issued the decree with such little fanfare last fall that even human rights organizations did not know it had been approved for a month. The decree and this committee are the fruit of coordination between the Pro-Historical Memory Commission (PRO-MEMORIA) and the Funes administration.  However, the press conference Sanchez Ceren held marks the first time this reparations program has been brought to the attention of the Salvadoran public.

Carlos Marvel presents a special gift of recognition to the President and First Lady.

Carlos Marvel presents a special gift of recognition to the President and First Lady.

Madre Guadalupe Mejia, Coordinator of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission and President of CODEFAM sends this message to the international community: it is important to remain alert, to watch and support this process, to ensure that it becomes a reality. We ask that you support us now just as people supported us during the war, that there be support for the process of reparation and healing.

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Small groups changing the world

June 16, 2014

In March, human rights lawyer Wilfredo Medrano, part of the team of Tutela Legal María Julia Hernandez and SHARE staff Bethany Loberg traveled to the U.S. to raise awareness around the struggle for justice for crimes against humanity in El Salvador and the work of Tutela Legal and the Pro-Historical Memory Commission. Tutela Legal was the Archdiocese’s human rights office. Judy Swett and Kathy Tighe, Associates of the Sisters of St. Joseph Boston, who hosted the tour in Boston, share their reflections on the experience.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Wilfredo visits with a tour participant at St. Ignatius in Boston.

Wilfredo visits with a tour participant at St. Ignatius in Boston.

On a rainy, bone-chilling cold Sunday night in March a steady stream of Boston College students filled the pews at St. Ignatius, curious about the current state of Tutela Legal. They came to listen, reflect and question. The following night at Regis College, students including several of Salvadoran descent came to hear from Wilfredo Medrano of Tutela Legal and share in discussion about Tutela’s work. In both settings Wilfredo movingly shared the reality of being a lawyer committed to bringing the cases of forced disappearance, massacre, and torture to trial in El Salvador. All present witnessed the bravery of this former college student, who, inspired by Dr. Maria Julia Hernandez, a pioneer and founder of Tutela Legal, also became a fierce advocate for peace and justice through the full exercise of human rights. Read More »


Historic Memory: Trials and Triumphs of the Disappeared

April 12, 2013

Bethany and Marina with Professor Dina Berger and Dr. Elizabeth Marina y Betania con Elizabeth Lozano, Director of Latin American Studies at Loyola University in Chicago

Bethany and Marina with Professor Dina Berger and Dr. Elizabeth Lozano, Director of Latin American Studies, at Loyola University in Chicago

Marina and Bethany are in the midst of their U.S. tour promoting truth and justice for those who disappeared during the war. Join them this weekend in Chicago and  Milwaukee!

Saturday, April 13th

7:00pm, 8th Day Center for Justice and Chicago Interfaith Religious Leadership Network

Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL

Sunday, April 14th

6:30pm, Lake Park Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, WI

2647 N. Stowell, Milwaukee, WI

 

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El Salvador’s Disappeared Children: Marina’s Story

March 28, 2013

Marina Ortiz spent her childhood in a children’sMarina Ortiz shelter run by Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Salvador. Assuming her family had abandoned her, Marina grew up not knowing where she came from, who her family was, or even her own name.

Her life changed when Father Jon Cortina asked Pastor Miguel Tomas Castro, the pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church, for support to start Pro-Busqueda, an organization to search for children disappeared during the war. When Pastor Castro told him there were several children in the shelter whose families were unknown, Father Cortina visited the shelter. They realized that Marina and several other children had likely been disappeared during the war. In 1995, Marina filed a report with Pro-Busqueda.

Only a few years later, in 1997, Marina’s family contacted Pro-Busqueda looking for a little girl that fit her description. Following a search and DNA testing, Marina met her biological family for the first time.

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Still seeking “a strong and lasting peace”

January 18, 2013

This 16th of January, we commemorate 21 years since the signing of the Peace Accords.  After 12 years of armed conflict, Salvadorans finally arrived at an agreement between the two parties, and ended a war that originated from social injustice, repression, and lack of personal liberties.  The consequences of this war included more than 75,000 people assassinated, thousands of people disappeared, children orphaned, refugees and displaced persons, and much destruction.

1992 Peace Accords_Chapultepec

Signing of the 1992 Peace Accords in Chapultepec, Mexico.

The signing of the Accords brought many important advances in the democratization of the country, such as the disbanding of the repressive forces, reduction of the armed forces, and the creation of new institutions like the Human Rights Ombudsman and the National Civil Police, among others.  However, the same cannot be said in terms of the economic situation.  El Salvador continues as one of the countries with the highest levels of economic inequality, where a small group of families receive more than half the country’s income, while the majority of the population lacks the resources to meet their basic needs.  The lack of economic opportunities has greatly influenced Salvadorans’ decisions to immigrate to the United States.  The Social Economic Forum created by the Peace Accords to address these issues produced no results.

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Delegates to Remember Martyred Jesuits

November 21, 2012

“A fight against impunity implies a long term struggle. If one remains firm in one’s position, a well-rooted seed will take hold and the consciousness of new generations, new professionals, will change as well.” — Jesuit Father José María Tojiera

For twenty three years, individuals, non-government organizations, and international groups have been fighting for justice for six Jesuit priests assassinated at the Jose Simeón Cañas University of Central America (UCA).As the Jesuit University in El Salvador and as one of the centers of liberation theology, the UCA played an active role in speaking out for human rights during the Civil War. For this reason, six Jesuits in residence, including the rector of the University, were murdered along with their housekeeper and her daughter in 1989.  

During the Honoring Women Religious Delegation we will visit the museum at the UCA, built to pay homage to those eight martyrs and other Christian martyrs of the Civil War in El Salvador. We will also see the Rose Garden, where the Jesuits were found, now a memorial garden, and the Chapel, where they are buried.

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VMM Delegation Commemorates with the Romero Coalition

November 19, 2012

Patricia Garcia from COMADRES (Committee of Mothers Monsignor Romero) and participant in the Romero Coalition (Concertacion Romero) accompanied VMM delegates to Romero’s crypt

When Patricia was imprisoned in El Salvador and exiled to Mexico for her role as a human rights activist, she thought of the moment when, at nine years old, she shook hands with Monseñor Romero. His support through out her time in prison and Both his support in her life while imprisoned and his current role in her life have greatly influenced her work as an activist.

A victim of the violence and oppression of the paramilitary and government, Patricia is a part of the Romero Coalition. The Coalition is working to obtain justice in the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and for the more than 8000 other victims of the right-wing regime in El Salvador during the armed conflict. A delegation from SHARE and the Volunteer Missionary Movement had the privilege of meeting Patricia during the week long VMM delegation in October.

Delegates spent the week learning about the Salvadoran reality and the work of VMM missioners for justice in Central America. Among the delegation were VMM board members, VMM founder Edwina Gately, supporters and friends. Included were SHARE’s Sistering Accompaniment Coordinator and Human Rights Advocacy Coordinator, as well as several missioners in Nicaragua and Guatemala, all of whom are all supported by VMM-USA.

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Government Apologizes for Disappearance of Six Children

November 12, 2012

Family Members of The Disappeared

During the civil war, government security forces forcibly disappeared seven of Magdalena´s family members and held and tortured Magdalena as a political prisoner. On October 29th, The Salvadoran Government officially apologized for their role in the disappearance of six specific children. Magdalena was there to hear their apology along with Madre Guadalupe, other victims and their families.

Between 1981 and 1983, Ana Julia and Carmelina Mejía Ramírez, José Rubén Rivera and Gregoria Herminia, Serapio Cristian and Julia Inés Contreras were forcibly disappeared in three separate incidents in Morazán and San Vicente. Pro-Busqueda took the case to the Inter-American Human Rights Court. In the end, the court ordered the state to recognize their responsibility and apologize to the families of the deceased. On August 31st, 2011, the court declared the Salvadoran state to be responsible for their disappearances.

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El Mozote Massacre Case Heard at Inter-American Human Rights Court

April 23, 2012

Memorial for the victims of the El Mozote Massacre.

This morning, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the Inter-American Human Rights Court opened its public hearing on the El Mozote massacre – one of the largest, most brutal massacres in Latin America. In December of 1981, members of the Salvadoran armed forces entered El Mozote and the surrounding villages rounding up, separating, and systematically killing men, women, and children. Through investigations, exhumations, and testimonies, Tutela Legal, the San Salvador Archdiocese’s human rights office and SHARE partner has identified 819 individuals killed in the massacre – over half under the age of twelve. Many of the soldiers responsible trained at the School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia in the U.S.

While the Inter-American Human Rights Commission has ruled on several cases of grave human rights abuses in El Salvador during the war, very few cases have been passed on to the Court, whose decisions are legally binding and viewed very seriously by Latin American governments. This will be the first time the court will give a ruling on the General Amnesty Law passed in March 1993, just five days after the U.N. Truth Commission released its report, From Madness to Hope, on human rights abuses during the war. The amnesty law provided complete blanket amnesty for everyone

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Remembering María Julia: Defender of Human Rights in El Salvador

April 1, 2011

“Our struggle to exercise these rights here in El Salvador continues, we will keep searching for this truth and justice in El Salvador’s courts. I don’t know when, but one day truth and justice will flourish in our country for the victims who abandoned this utopia with their blood.”

– Dr. María Julia Hernández

Dr. María Julia Hernandez, long-time director of Tutela Legal, The Salvadoran Archdiocese’s human rights office, and defender of the victims of horrific human rights violations, died March 30th four years ago.

SHARE worked with María Julia, Tutela Legal, and the Archdiocese on many human rights initiatives over the years, including human rights campaigns during the war, coordination with the movement of refugees repopulating communities in the late 1980s, and working on the initial design for a memorial wall dedicated to the civilian victims of the war. Read More »


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