Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Electoral Reform: Multi-Party City Councils

As part of a number of electoral reforms being proposed by civil society, one that stands out, especially as Legislative and Mayoral elections approach, is the proposal to accept multi-party City Councils.

Local election results 2009
Currently, El Salvador is the only country in Latin America that functions on simple majority elections for city councils. That means that when one party wins the local elections and takes the mayors office, every person on the City Council comes from that political party. Whereas, in most other countries in Latin America, the City Council is made up of representatives from different parties depending on how well they were represented in recent elections.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More Great 2010 Delegation Quotes!

Churchwomen Delegation
"The delegation experience challenges me to an even greater commitment to the advocacy education work I do.  I'm greatly encouraged by the efforts of SHARE with women's empowerment and leadership for young women.  This is absolutely necessary for peace in our world."

"I appreciated SHARE not spoon feeding data to us, but rather letting individuals learn from the conversations, the travel, and reflections shared."

"Once again my eyes and heart have been opened to the suffering that has been felt by the Salvadorans.  Once again I am impressed with their hope and energy.  I was very touched by the stark poverty of Llano Grande, but once again was moved by their hope."

Cretin Derham Hall
“I learned a lot in El Salvador and a lot about myself. I wish I could put it into words, but there are no words powerful enough to explain everything.”

"I learned that as a U.S. citizen, we have an impact on the countries of the world. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves so we can use our knowledge to help the world."

“Through this experience, I've been shown that the world has many issues and you can never be done learning about and questioning them. That is the only way to find solutions.”

I have learned more about the history and current political and economic structure existing in El Salvador. I learned more about the interconnection between El Salvador, the U.S., and other countries. I learned a simple way of life can be an effective and happy way of life. One of the most important lessons I learned is knowledge is power and one of the most important ways to help the poor and vulnerable. I also learned a lot about CAFTA"

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish
 “I learned so much: the history of El Salvador, the current issues that are affecting the country, more of the Spanish language, and what it really means to be a community.”

“I think the advocacy was well done – because otherwise the delegation would just be a “show and tell” without allowing groups to take back what they've learned and carry out their sistering relationship.”

“Learned of the challenge many people face in their everyday lives. The things we take for granted can not be afforded, like a high school education, clean water, food, medicine.”

“New perspective on faith and what it means to be a Catholic as described by Father Rutilio Grande and Mons. Romero.”

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thank you Marina!

Thank you Marina for many years working with SHARE.

Marina Peña, SHARE’s El Salvador Field Office Director recently decided to leave SHARE in order to accept a position working as an advisor to the Salvadoran Ambassador in Nicaragua.  Marina’s dedication, enthusiasm, and expertise will be greatly missed at SHARE. 

For over 11 years, we enjoyed Marina’s leadership in accompanying partner communities as they moved from war to reconstruction.  The success of the Mujeras Ganaderas, the cooperative of cattle women in the Bajo Lempa, is one example of Marina’s ability to encourage and empower a marginalized group of women. She guided through the process of forming their own women’s cooperative and walked with them until they secured their legal status. Today they are a thriving, successful, and respected women’s organization.

Marina was a champion in supporting the struggle of women and human rights. Last November, with the support of SHARE, a Salvadoran women’s organization passed landmark legislation to protect women from violence. The Romero Coalition, another advocacy effort that Marina championed, was instrumental in pressing Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes to ask for pardon on behalf of the Salvadoran government for violations committed during the war at the 30th anniversary commemoration of Archbishop Oscar Romero. 

We are sure Marina will do a superb job working with the Salvadoran community in Nicaragua.
We want to say thank you Marina for her leadership and for her many years advancing the mission of SHARE.  We wish her success and hope she will continue to be part of the SHARE family even while she is in Nicaragua.

Un fuerte abrazo and muchas gracias for your love and dedication, Marina!
Jose Artiga
Executive Director

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Top Ten 2010 Delegate Quotes

  • Instead of just hearing about poverty and peoples' struggles, we lived it and saw first hand in a way that will affect me forever. SHARE's incorporation of advocacy issues was truly remarkable and inspiring to me. I plan on initiating events and fundraisers on campus to create awareness in the U.S. about issues in El Salvador.” 
    Eastern Michigan University

  • "I can now understand how big on an impact the policies of the USA have on the rest of the world. Even though the American people may not realize their power, they are responsible for their actions." 
    Cretin Derham Hall

  • "The past week has driven home the need to understand, to a greater degree, the global impact of my way of life. Then change those areas that are harmful to the global community." 
    Churchwomen Delegation

  • We all need to open our eyes and hearts to listen to our brothers and sisters all over the world. Each one of our brothers and sisters has a great story to tell.”
    St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish

  • "I have learned so much about the civil war and current economy in El Salvador. I have also learned about the USA's involvement in the war and what advocacy organizations are doing to help the people of El Salvador today. More than anything I have learned about the strength and kindness of the Salvadoran people." 
    Cretin Derham Hall

  • "The question should be what didn't move or touch me; every minute was jam-packed--so informative, so motivating, so inspirational. Each leader offered so much in knowledge, joy and giving. Each were very sensitive to the needs and to requests. Never has there been been such giving leadership. The delegates themselves were so inspiring, each bringing and sharing a unique gift." Churchwomen Delegation

  • I realize now that it is every person's duty as a human being to help all other human beings, no matter what their circumstance. I plan to tell stories of the people I met, making sure that these people are not forgotten.” Eastern Michigan University

  • I have learned how welcoming and loving one community can be and that love is unconditional. I've learned that every name and face has a story. It is important to give dignity to every person.” 
    Cretin Derham Hall

  • I went in with an open mind and I feel like I learned more in a week here than in a semester at school.” 
    Georgetown University

  • "I always appreciate having my vision and perspective broadened -- as it was during this trip. With so many Salvadoran immigrants in the US, I appreciate the insights into the pain of their choice to leave El Salvador and the vast challenges for those who stay behind or return." 
    Churchwomen Delegation

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Women's Rights in the Workplace

Salvadoran Women working in a factory

On March 30th, the International Labor Organization presented their report on Legislation Regarding Women's Work Rights in Central America and the Dominican Republic. The report revealed that the most common types of labor violations in the workplace for women are in regards to maternity and sexual harrasment.

International Labor Organization Representative, Maria Jose Chamorro, presented the report to the audience. Some interesting facts about El Salvador labor laws:
  • El Salvador ratified the International Agreement on Work Dicrimination in 1995, and the International Agreement on Equal Pay in 2000, while the rest of the Central American countries had ratified those agreements in the 1950's and 1960's.
  • Article 3 of the Salvadoran constitution states that "All persons are equal under the law. To have access to civil rights there could be no restrictions based on nationality, race, sex or religion."
  • Both the Convention for the Elimination of All forms of Violance Against Women and the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Sanction and Erradicate Violance Against Women have been ratified by the Salvadoran government.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Remembering María Julia: Defender of Human Rights in El Salvador

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. SHARE brought María Julia on tour in the U.S. to promote and fundraise for the construction of the memorial wall. Says SHARE Executive Director José Artiga, “María Julia is one of our most prominent women leaders in El Salvador. She worked closely with all the Archbishops, and was a defender of human rights who promoted denouncements, justice, and reparations.”

In honor of María Julia Hernández, Wednesday March 30th 2011 members of Tutela Legal organized a mass and forum in the Crypt of the National Cathedral, where María Julia, Archbishop Oscar Romero, and a number of other priests and religious persons are buried. María Julia is one of the only women buried in the Crypt. A group of forty people gathered to commemorate her life, including members of COMADRES, the Committee of the Mothers of the Disappeared, and many others who knew her. In the spirit of María Julia, during the opening prayer, one of the priests proclaimed, “We are gathered here for the dignity of all, no matter their social class.”
Decorating María Julia's tomb
with flowers

Following the mass, Luis Morales and Dr. Aceda Díaz shared reflections about María Julia's personality, work, and legacy. María Julia first became involved in working for human rights after meeting Archbishop Romero in 1977 at a gathering of student groups. Archbishop Romero called on the students to aid the victims of disappearance and genocide, and María Julia decided to accompany him in this work. She took on a preferential option for the victims, committing the rest of her life to defending human rights.

In 1983, María Julia took leadership of the newly formed Tutela Legal. She and her team worked tirelessly and systematically to investigate, record, and denounce massacres, murders, disappearances, and other human rights violations, and to protect victims. While these atrocities stopped happening systematically with the end of the war, they remained covered by silence, impunity, and the amnesty law. María Julia continued to work for the truth to be known and acknowledged. Together with Tiberio Arnoldo Romero, brother of Archbishop Oscar Romero, she brought the case of Archbishop Romero's assassination to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. She also played an instrumental role in coordinating the exhumations of the El Mozote Massacre, bringing irrefutable evidence to light. She helped facilitate the planning and construction of the Monument to Truth and Memory as well, a memorial wall with the names of nearly 30,000 civilian victims killed or disappeared during the war.