Friday, October 31, 2008

More malnutrition and poverty in El Salvador according to FAO

The food and agriculture organization (FAO) of the United Nations, states that the recent food and financial crisis has severely increased malnutrition and poverty in El Salvador. According to experts from FAO, 18,9% percent of El Salvadoran people faces conditions of chronic malnutrition during childhood. This can in some cases affect normal growth. The FAO representant in El Salvador, Delmy Linares, says that it has to be done a lot on the issue of nutricional food security.

She emphasizes that the problem in El Salvador is not only the decrease in food production, but also lack of food accessibility for the majority of the population. It is misleading when food security is only referred to as a question of lack of production when it is also about whether the people has access to food or not. She uses beans as an example of a product which is not lacking, but has an unaffordable price for many people. There are various products being imported and produced in El Salvador, but people does not always have the money.

Also, the National Association of Rural Producers in El Salvador (AMPRES), states that supply of food does not necessarily mean that there is production of food. The situation is that the majority of the food is imported because local production is not stimulated. El Salvador is facing a situation where they are dependent on 80 % of the rice, 100 % of the yellow maize, and 12% of the white maize they need to feed the people. AMPRES suggests to increase stimulation of national production.

The World Food Program revealed that more than 100000 of the millions of Central American people thrown out in poverty because of rising food prices, are people from El Salvador.

Link to the complete article:

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Amnesty Law

For the upcoming municipal, legislative, and presidential elections 2009, the question of justice for the wounds from the civil war is raising up in the public debate. The El Salvadoran civil war resulted in 75000 deaths and 10000 disappearings, according to a study performed by the UN. The law of amnesty is still protecting the offenders from any kind of investigation. Human rights organizations and relatives of victims are demanding a repeal of the law. In responding to this issue, both presidential candidates are clearly opposing the repealment of the law. Mauricio Funes, the presidential candidate for FMLN, states that repealing the amnesty law would create a difficult climate for governing and therefore restrain the creation of a new future. He further states that instead of contributing to reconciliation, it will open up wounds. The presidential candidate for ARENA, Rodrigo Avila, is also distancing himself from a repealment of the amnesty law and is backing up the army which would be threatened by an eventual repealment.

Human rights organizations are especially disappointed with the FMLN, which in contrast to other Latin American leftist parties asuming power, does not want to open this issue from the past. The director of the legal division of the Catholic church, Ovidio Mauricio González, opposes Funes and claims that the wounds are already open and that a decree will not heal these wounds.
He asks rethorically what the victims will say about this. Victims and relatives of victims are stating that they will continue to fight for justice, even if it will take time.

To read the complete article, follow this link:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saca failes to fulfill his promises about the initiation of the Longitudinal del Norte

December 2008 was the president Saca's announced starting date for the construction of the motorway Longitudinal del Norte. The new executive director of Fomilenio, Josè Àngel Quiròs, on the other hand does not predict the project beginning until 2009.

Today, right after the change of executive director of Fomilenio, it looks like Saca`s words cannot become reality. Fomilenio is the group in charge of implementing the 461 million dollars donatedby the US-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), directed to the creation of economic growth in the Northern part of the country. After a closer look at the timetable, Fomilenio has now proposed an unspecified date in 2009 for the initiation of the project.

According to the new director Josè Àngel Quiròs, the plan for the first stretch of the giant construction will not be ready until the end of 2008. Quiròs then estimates that the real construction will not begin until at least three months later.

This delay is due to the fact that there is a lot of preparational work to do for the firm which eventually signs the contract. The firm will need employees, machines, land, installation of plants, etc., says Quiròs.

In April 2008, when Saca announced the start of the project, members from Fomilenio already anticipated the failure of the announced start date since the design of the motorway was not even finished. For starters, the company Parsons Brinckerhoff Internaciònal was delayed about six months in delivering the design.

This delay and the danger of delay in executing the construction were raised by members of CND and Fomilenio. They were fully aware of the fact that money which was not being executed during the five years of the contract with MCC could be lost. Previous delays in the execution of the funds were mainly what caused the removal of the former director Llort. Under his direction, only 30% of the amount projected to have been implemented during the first year had been completed.

Very few members of the CND and the Fomilenio, including Josè Àngel Quiròs, attended the announcement by Saca in April this year.

Quiròs is now temporarily in charge of Fomilenio for the last 3 months of 2008. His name will eventually be evaluated, among other candidates, in the decision of a permanent director.

Both Quiròs and the MCC residential director in El Salvador, Kenny Miller, are confident that the process will accelerate from now on and that they will reach the goals set forth. The only eventual obstacle Quiròs can identity is possible problems with interinstitutional coordination after the 2009 elections. He says such challenges will be met in a professional, technical, and independent way, whether there is another party in government or not.

Link to article:

Seeking a home away from homophobia

In the US, there is an increasing acceptance of sexual orientation as grounds for asylum. It is an emerging field of immigration law in the US, and gays and lesbians from different parts of the world are now becoming aware of this opportunity.

Offering a haven for gays and lesbians,the US government is beginning to deal with an increasing number of asylum applications from this group. Homophobic attitudes or lack of international experience among judges and government officials, which could lead to unfortunate decisions, are of concern. A Mexican national was denied asylum by an immigration judge in 2003 on the grounds that he was obviously not gay. He then appealed last year and he was granted asylum. At the same time, critics of this practice claim that it is impossible to control fraudulent cases. The applicants could pretend to be gay or lesbian when they are really seeking asylum for other reasons.

Being homosexual in different parts of the world is not necessarily easy. Even though Brazilian law forbids discrimination against homosexuals, a total of 116 gays, lesbians, and transvestites were killed last year. India, Uganda, and Jamaica have made homosexuality illegal, and being accused can warrant up to ten years of prison.

Having been granted asylum in the US, Delmy Berganza tells about the difficulties of being a lesbian in El Salvador. She kept her sexuality a secret her whole life after seeing her aunt, and others, be harassed and threatened for being suspected homosexuals. She took her first opportunity to go to the US.

Genesio Oliveira from Brazil was raped at the age of 16 and was living in several countries before he came to the US. Oliveira came to the US in 2002. He has still not been granted asylum because Brazil has antidiscrimination laws. He then went back to his father's funeral in Brazil. He is now preparing a second appeal while living separated from his American spouse.

Link to article:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Remittances from US to El Salvador Decline

According to a recent Washington Post article, remittances sent from Salvadorans working in the United States did not increase by as much as they have been in recent years. Until recently, money sent home to Latin America had been soaring, helped by increased migration and lower money-transfer costs. Now, with an increase in inflation in Latin America, the dollar does not stretch as far. What's more, with the looming economic problems in the US, workers have less money to send back to their families. This is significant, especially for El Salvador, because as much as 18% of El Salvador's GDP depends on remittances from abroad.

Currently, there are groups working to formalize remittance giving by sending the money through banks so that immigrants may have the opportunity to develop economically, allowing them to build assets on their earnings.

- Anna Sanger, Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

Friday, October 17, 2008


Following the guidance of one of our strategic goals, SHARE DC reached out to the Salvadoran community in Washington DC during Hispanic Heritage Month. The Washington DC metro area is home to the second largest Salvadoran community in the United States after Los Angeles, CA. With approximately 500,000 Salvadorans living in the area, they constitute the largest foreign-born population according to the 2005 US Census. Migration from El Salvador to Washington started in the 1970’s, increased in the 1980’s because of the civil war and continued to grow in the late 1990s and into this decade because of the harsh economic conditions back home.

a) Fiesta DC 2008

Each year, Fiesta DC, a non-profit organization sponsored in part by the DC Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, organizes events during Hispanic Heritage Month. The largest of these events is Fiesta DC’s Latino Festival, which includes a parade of nations, a children’s festival, an arts and crafts fair, food vendors, music and dance performances, and a community-based organization information fair. This year more than 60,000 people attended the Festival on Sunday, September 28th. Therefore the Latino Festival is an excellent opportunity for non-profit organizations to reach out to the Latino community, particularly to Salvadorans. SHARE DC, with the support of the Salvadoran Allies Group (CISPES, Sister Cities, Voices on the Border and SHARE) and the Center for International Policy (CIP) had a booth at the fair to raise SHARE’s visibility among the Salvadoran community and to advocate for free and fair elections in El Salvador. To prepare for the event, the SHARE DC Grassroots Team asked and received contributions from the Salvadoran Allies Group and CIP to sponsor the table. Each organization was invited to send organizational materials and volunteers for the event. SHARE DC was in charge of coordinating the volunteers and materials, set up and take down the booth, and disseminate materials to festival visitors.
The day of the Festival, SHARE DC staffed the table from 8:00am to 6:30pm and handed out grassroots and advocacy materials to visitors. In addition SHARE DC took advantage of the opportunity to promote a petition in response to the presentation given by Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Minister, Marisol Argueta, at the American Enterprise Institute where she asked for U.S. intervention in the Salvadoran elections. SHARE’s petition, with all of the signatures, will be sent to President Saca to implore him to ensure that public employees do not use their positions to influence public opinion on who should win the elections, to ask Argueta to explain her statements, and to respect the sovereignty of the Salvadoran people. SHARE DC gathered 91 signatures for the petition at the festival, 20 people signed up for SHARE’s E-news, and 10 people took home SHARE’s 2009 Presidential Election Delegation flyer. SHARE DC also supported CIP’s campaign to promote investment in potable water in El Salvador, as well as, CISPES’ biking event. Most importantly, SHARE DC was able to speak Salvadorans living in the metro DC to show them that SHARE Foundation is walking in solidarity with their brothers and sisters back home.

b) Cutumay Camones Concert,

On Saturday October 4, SHARE DC had a table at the Cutumay Camones Concert. The band formed in May 1982 in El Salvador, taking the name of a town located in the Santa Ana Department, which was famous for a battle that took place a few days after the FMLN offensive in January 10, 1981. Currently, with most of their members living in the US, Cutumay Camones’ mission is to recover, through its music, the Salvadoran traditions and heritage.

The event was held in the Wesley United Methodist Church in Washington DC and was attended by a multitude of Salvadorans. The concert was organized by the Day Laborers National Network, Metro D.C. , Manuel Zapata Humanitarian Center and Salvadoran Cultural Association MILPA.

In just a few hours, from 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. SHARE DC was able to collect 44 signatures for the petition to protest the Foreign Affairs Minister’s statements, and has since gathered a total of 400.

In addition, SHARE DC handed out grassroots and advocacy materials, promoted the electoral delegations and networked with representatives of several Salvadoran organizations.

SHARE DC will keep reaching out to the Salvadoran community at future events in order to strengthen relations with organizations in the area and get Salvadoran-Americans involved in SHARE’s work.

c) Stop the Raids and Deportations: Emergency Response Protest of the Recent Raids in California

On Friday, October 10, 2008, SHARE DC participated in an emergency protest of ICE in response to the recent raids and detainment of over 1,157 undocumented immigrants. The protest took place in front of ICE National Headquarters and was sponsored by DC Alliance for Immigrant Justice, Metro DC Interfaith Sanctuary Network, Casa de Maryland, CISPES, DC Jobs with Justice, DC Students for a Democratic Society, the National Day Labor Organizing Network, and the Washington Peace Center. Over fifty people showed up with signs and banners and marched in a circle in front of the building as ICE employees left for the day. After the march, the group held a press conference in front of the building where representatives of each sponsoring organization spoke out against the racist, xenophobic attacks. Jean Stokan, former SHARE staff member, was the final speaker at the press conference. SHARE DC brought one of the SHARE DC interns, Lars Joon Flydal, to participate in the protest. Univisión televised portions of the protest and the press conference.