Posts Tagged ‘US Foreign Policy’

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 »

El Salvador Election monitoring: blog no. 2 – the Magic of Witnessing

March 7, 2014

The following reflection was written by Cathy Lester, a first round elections observer, and representative for Meta Peace Team.  Cathy lives in Grayling, Michigan.  She writes a blog for the Traverse City Record-Eagle website.  You can read some of her other posts here. 
Americans take our right to have elections somewhat for granted. This was brought home to me by the enthusiasm of the Salvadoreños. They were not only glad simply that they were allowed to have elections, they were extra-glad that, as I said in my previous blog, the electoral process has been reformed into something they could believe in.
The Election Monitors arrived at the voting center at 5:00 a.m., when it was supposed to open. By then, both the major parties already had tents up and were making lots of noise. 
Arena tent
I have to say the party of the Right had a lot more money to spend on tents, balloons, signs, drums, banners, food, etc. Their music had a triumphal, bouncy, we´ve-already-won air. I also noticed a certain racial divide: none of the right-wingers had “Indian” features, most of them had a middle-or-upper class air, and a lot of them were tall, fat and/or had big booming voices. (I think the “vigilantes” were chosen partly for that.)
The workers’ party had more country people, and more that looked Indian, and few that were fat. Or tall or overbearing. Their music was strong, serious, and determined – in a minor key but very upbeat.
The observers were surprised by the almost carnival-like atmosphere. I spoke to some Finns from a European group of Election Monitors, and they were saying, “In Finland, when we vote we´re so silent, it´s like going to church!” 
Outside the center, there was a constant stream of cars honking. Groups from the various parties were waving flags and chanting, singing, playing music. In addition, the sidewalks were crowded with vendors calling their wares: Mango-mango-mango! Election souvenirs, best prices! 

Celebrations of the American Churchwomen

December 16, 2013

The week of December 2nd dozens of women religious, lay leaders, college students, and people in solidarity from across the country gathered to remember the five martyred churchwomen: Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, Jean Donovan, and Carla Piette.

Altar Commemorating the American Churchwomen

Altar Commemorating the American Churchwomen












In the San Francisco Bay Area Lyn Kirkconnell, a former Maryknoll Missioner who was serving in Peru at the time of their deaths, shared the following reflection:

 It is not easy to paint a picture of the horror and brutality experienced and witnessed daily by the people of El Salvador in 1980.  Indeed, why should we keep looking at that fateful year 33 years later?  And why look at events in such a tiny country in the middle of Central America?

 It is because El Salvador is a microcosm of our world; it is because what happened there, several decades ago, represents the worst and the best of humankind.  During my brief, but poignant 10-day visit last year with the SHARE-LCWR delegation, I was reminded over and over again of a monument I saw when I was a young student in Paris.  This is the Memorial of the Deported Martyrs behind Notre Dame Cathedral on Ile de la Cité.  This memorial was dedicated in 1962 to the 200,000 Jewish people deported during WWII, handed over to the Nazis to be used, abused and thrown away.  You descend the stairs to the entrance to this memorial.  Inside a small room, you view a long tunnel-like structure with the names of the deported and with a light symbolizing each life.  As you leave, etched in stone over the doorway, are the words: “Pardonne;  N’oublie pas…”  “Forgive;  Do not forget…” Read More »

ACTION ALERT: Defend the People’s Will in El Salvador! National Call-In Day to Congress – Friday, November 15th

November 14, 2013

U.S. Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA), Mike Honda (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Jim Moran (D-VA) are now circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter to encourage other Representatives to sign on to a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding El Salvador’s February 2 presidential election. The letter calls for the U.S. government to remain neutral, respect the election results, and work toward a positive relationship with whichever party is elected to the presidency.

Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Albio Sires (D-NJ) – the chair and ranking member of the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – already sent a letter to Kerry discrediting the FMLN and UNIDAD candidates.

With campaign season in full swing in El Salvador, it’s urgent that Members of Congress and the State Department make it clear that February’s election is the decision of the Salvadoran people, not of politicians in Washington. 

You can be part of a national call-in effort to demand that the US respect the democratic will of the Salvadoran people! 

Call your US Representative TODAY to insist that s/he add his or her name to Rep. Vargas’ statement in defense of democracy in El Salvador. 


1) Call the Congressional switchboard to be transferred to your Representative’s office: (202) 224-3121.

2) Ask to speak to the staff person in charge of foreign policy. If that person is not available, leave a voicemail.

3) Email so we can keep track of constituent calls and monitor the progress of this action.

Please use the following script:

• “My name is ___________ and I am calling as a constituent from [your city or town] to ask that [Representative’s name] sign on to a Congressional letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that has been initiated by Representative Juan Vargas. This letter calls for U.S. neutrality with respect to the upcoming presidential election in El Salvador, and pledges that Members of Congress will seek a positive relationship with whichever party is elected. To sign on to this letter, please contact Aaron Allen at Representative Vargas’ office. His phone number is (202) 225-8045.”

•“This public neutrality statement is urgently needed. During El Salvador’s 2009 presidential campaign, various Republicans in Congress threatened to punish the people of El Salvador if they elected the opposition party’s candidate.  Fortunately, the Obama administration neutralized these threats by making a clear, public commitment to maintaining positive relationship with whomever the Salvadoran people elected. This was a welcome change from past administrations. It’s important that the State Department once again make this position clear well in advance of any attempts to manipulate or intimidate Salvadoran voters.”

•“Salvadorans, including those living here in the US who will be voting for the first time by absentee ballot, also need to hear a clear message from Congress that assures them they can vote according to their own free will, rather than in response to threats and manipulation from anyone in the US government.”

•“Thank you for your time, and I encourage [Representative’s name] to sign on to this important statement in support of free and fair elections in El Salvador.”

Honduras: Intimidation in Upcoming Election?

November 7, 2013

This article, written by Eben Levey, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns intern for Central America issues, was first posted in their November/December newsletter. Levey will be participating in SHARE’s election observation delegation to Honduras this month.

On November 24, Honduran citizens will go to the polls to elect a new president. As the date rapidly approaches, there is much doubt that the current situation in Honduras will permit free and fair elections. From violence and intimidation to institutional impediments to justice, the closely contested presidential race will occur in a context far from conducive to democracy.

Honduran military police patrol in Tegucigalpa.  (Photo courtesy Karen Spring)

Honduran military police patrol in Tegucigalpa.
(Photo courtesy Karen Spring)

Since the military coup in 2009 that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya, Honduras has become one of the most violent countries in the world. As reported by CNN and NPR, San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in the country, has claimed the title of murder capital of the world for two years running. Yet much of the violence is far from random. The government that illegitimately replaced President Zelaya has embarked upon a course of militarization of police forces and criminalization of social protest, a course that has seen political opponents and social activists systematically targeted for prosecution, armed attacks, and assassinations.

In October, current President Porfirio Lobo deployed over 1,000 military members into the streets to act as law enforcement. These are forces that are trained to fight and kill, not to provide law enforcement. Furthermore, supervising the military police operations are individuals such as Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, widely known for human rights violations such as extra-judicial assassinations. Many in opposition to the current government have decried the militarization of the country as a tactic to intimidate social movements and civil society opposition to the current government. Read More »

Blood on our Hands: SOA Watch

April 8, 2013

The  School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) is a activism organization that seeks to close the renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known the US Army School of the Americas, through nonviolent resistance. The US military center is responsible for training those responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent  civilians, including Monseñor Romero and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador. The SOA WATCH participated in a delegation to El Salvador in March, 2013. Delegate Lisa Sullivan reflects on their journey:

If ever there were a more compelling tale to provoke a stampede to shut the doors of the School of the Americas, it would be the tale of tiny El Salvador. As 25 of us discovered on a recent SOA Watch delegation there, even former  supporters admit: the time has come.

SHARE's Katy Strader and Sarah Hall with Father Roy, founder of SOA Watch.

SHARE’s Katy Strader and Sarah Hall with Father Roy, founder of SOA Watch.

The legacy of that school is etched in blood on the hearts and minds of Salvadorans, and on the walls, parks and pastures of their cities and towns. A wall in central San Salvador with 35,000 names engraved, most of them murdered by orders by  SOA graduates.  A makeshift cross under the shade of a conacaste tree where four bodies of US churchwomen were dumped. A garden where rose bushes grow on the spots where six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter were murdered by the SOA- formed Atlacatl Battalion.  A closet with the possessions left behind by Monseñor Romero, assassinated on orders of an SOA graduate. There are no shoes: Romero was buried in the only pair he owned.

Read More »

Court Orders Government to Investigate El Mozote Massacre

December 14, 2012

The Salvadoran military systematically assassinated over 800 men, women, and children in the massacre

On Monday, December 10th, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a long awaited ruling on the El Mozote massacre case. The Court condemned the government as responsible for the massacre, for this violation of life. As part of the ruling, the Court ordered the Salvadoran government to investigate those responsible for the El Mozote massacre, citing that the 1993 amnesty law does not cover war crimes that occurred during the civil war.

Throughout the war, the government repeatedly committed acts of extreme cruelty and violence, and the El Mozote massacre was undoubtedly one of the most brutal. On December 11th, 1981, Salvadoran armed forces entered El Mozote and the surrounding villages. They then rounded up, separated, and systematically killed nearly 1,000 men, women, and children. Only one survived. Over half of the victims were children. The massacre is just one war atrocity among many for which the Salvadoran government is responsible as the state implemented its policy of terror against its people; it remains burned into the collective Salvadoran memory as the most horrific violation against human life.

Up until recently, national Salvadoran courts refused to investigate the killings, using the 1993 amnesty law to avoid responsibility for the long list of human rights they so cruelly violated in December 1981. Because of this impunity, human rights organizations like Tutela Legal took the case to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and then to the Inter-American Court in 2011. However, Monday’s ruling is encouraging in the fight for truth, justice, and reparations for the crimes committed. Among other things, the Inter-American Court ordered the Salvadoran government to enact the following remedial measures:

i) continue compiling a Register of Victims and Relatives of Victims of the massacre  
ii) perform investigations of the events,  
iii) ensure that the Amnesty Law does not represent an obstacle to investigations,  
iv) investigate the conduct of officials who obstructed the investigation

Read More »

Civil Society Demands Justice on the 30th Anniversary of the Mozote Massacre

December 14, 2011

The Monsenor Romero Coalition and the signatory organizations and persons call on the national and international community to remember that December 10th we celebrate the 63rd Anniversary of the Universal Declaraion of Human Rights and that on the 11, 12 and 13th of December of this year it will be 30 years since the Mozote Massacre.  These two commemorations invite us to continue with efforts to denounce impunity and demand that the Salvadoran government provide the truth, justice and reparations for the crime against humanity committed in El Mozote and surrounding areas. For this reason:

1.  We declare to never forget this cruel, inhumane and aberrant extermination. Read More »

Spain Demands that El Salvador extradite military personnel processed for the massacre of the Jesuits

December 9, 2011

The Council of Ministers also resolved to request that the United States of America extradite the two other military personnel accused in the killing who reside in that country. One of the defense lawyers said that the call for extradition does not worry them because they are certain that the Supreme Court of Justice will deny the request.

Ignacio Ellacuria, SJ

By Efren Lemus / Published December 2,  2011
Translated by Bethany Loberg.  Original in Spanish here

This Friday the Spanish Council of Ministers agreed to request that Salvadoran and U.S. authorities extradite 15 Salvadoran military personnel accused of participating in the assassination of six Jesuit priests and two of their collaborators, a crime which occurred the 16th of November of 1989. 

Europa Press stated that in accordance with the proposal of the Spanish Minister of Justice, Francisco Caamaño, the Spanish government has emitted 13 requests for extradition from El Salvador and two from the United States. Caamaño presented the application for extradition at the request of the Supreme Court, the institution prosecuting the military personnel for the crimes of assassination, terrorism, and crimes against humanity.   Read More »

El Mozote: Seeking Justice in Spite of the Amnesty Law

December 6, 2011

December 11th, 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of the El Mozote massacre – one of the largest, most brutal massacres in Latin America. As part of the military’s scorched earth campaign to remove any possible source of supplies for the guerrilla by killing entire rural villages, members of the armed forces entered El Mozote and the surrounding villages in December of 1981, rounding up, separating, and systematically killing men, women, and children. Through investigations including exhumations and testimonies, Tutela Legal, the San Salvador Archdiocese’s human rights office has identified 819 individuals killed in the massacre – over half under the age of twelve.

Thanks to Rufina Amaya’s tireless efforts to tell her story, as the sole survivor of the massacre, international news coverage, several rounds of exhumations of human remains, and the work of human rights organizations like Tutela Legal, the massacre can no longer be denied. El Mozote has become a well-known symbol of the brutality of the armed forces during the war.


The Salvadoran government, however, has not taken actions to investigate or bring to trial the intellectual and material authors of these brutal murders. To the contrary, since the peace accords, the army and government have paid homage to Colonel Domingo Monterrosa, a key leader in the massacre, on numerous occasions. As Gisela León of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) stated in a recent interview, “The massacre of El Mozote represents the absolute impunity that all cases from the conflict are in.” Efforts at truth-telling and investigation, necessary elements in reaching reconciliation, have come solely from civil society.

Read More »

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