El Salvador under quarantine

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in El Salvador has continued to grow.   As of the time of this post, the total is 46.  There have also now been two deaths from the virus.  Real time updates on confirmed cases and deaths are available here.  Part of the tragedy of this pandemic is that family members and other mourners are prohibited from attending the burial of those who perish from the disease.

The primary response of the Salvadoran government to the pandemic continues to be a nationwide home quarantine to avoid transmission of the virus and to give the government time to build up its capacity to respond to a the approaching health system crisis.  Of course the quarantine requires a means to support the millions of poor Salvadorans in the informal economy, who don't eat if they can't work.  The government's plan is a subsidy payment of $300 per household, while at the same time suspending their obligations to pay utilities, mortgages, loans and taxes.  The $300 wou…

4 tips for staying connected during coronavirus, from migrants who live far from family

For immigrants like Juana, from El Salvador, migration – not coronavirus – is the main cause of separation from family. Norwalk, Connecticut, March 25, 2020.
John Moore/Getty Images

Originally published at The Conversation.

By Lynnette Arnold, University of Massachusetts Amherst

As social distancing and shelter-in-place orders are implemented to curb the spread of coronavirus, ever more people worldwide are separated from relatives, friends and loved ones. As of March 29, an estimated 229 million Americans, 60 million Italians and 1.3 billion Indians have been asked to stay home.

Forced separation, while new to most, is a fact of life for the world’s migrants. Still, many sustain close relationships with relatives through years, even decades, of physical distance.

As a linguistic anthropologist interested in the power of everyday language, I study how such families maintain relationships by analyzing recordings of their conversations. I worked with migrant families living stret…

COVID-19 El Salvador update

As of March 26, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in El Salvador has grown to 13.  According to the government, 11 of these cases are people who contracted the disease while abroad, but two people were reportedly infected at home, apparently by contact with someone who had returned from abroad before all passengers were sent into quarantine centers.

This is day 5 of the national stay at home decree issued by the Bukele administration.   Everyone is confined to their homes except for one designated person per household who can go out to purchase food or medicine.   Also exempt are persons in essential businesses.

People outside their homes must have proof of their right to be on the street.   Forms have been circulating on social media to print and make your family shopper designation.

Private cars may only carry one person.   Taxis and Uber drivers may only have one passenger. 

To enforce the stay at home order, the government is patrolling neighborhoods, setting up roadbloc…

40th anniversary of Romero assassination calls for solidarity

When I was searching for a quote from Saint Oscar Romero to share on this 40th anniversary of his martyrdom, a quote which would be appropriate in these strange days of pandemic, it seemed to me we should hear words of Romero on solidarity with the human family:
The present form of the world passes away,
and there remains only the joy of having used this world
to establish God’s rule here.
All pomp, all triumphs, all selfish capitalism,
all the false successes of life will pass
with the world’s form.
All of that passes away.
What does not pass away is love.
When one has turned money, property, work in one’s calling
into service of others,
then the joy of sharing
and the feeling that all are one’s family
does not pass away.
In the evening of life you will be judged on love.
(Jan. 21, 2979) Taken from The Violence of Love, a collection of excerpts from homilies of Oscar Romero, translated by James Brockman.

You might be interested to review these other accounts of aspects of Romero's…

Muted 40th Romero anniversary recalls the early days

A  guest post from Carlos Colorado, author of the Eminems Doctrina and Super Martyrio blogs.

In March 2000 I was in El Salvador for what was then the 20th anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s assassination—the halfway point between the 1980 killing and the 40th anniversary we commemorate this year. At a reception in a trendy boarding house in western San Salvador, I brashly suggested to the guests that Romero could become El Salvador’s Socrates—who was forced to drink poison by fervid Athenians, but was later embraced by the city as its most quintessential son. It fell to the late, legendary NCR correspondent Gary MacEóin to let me down gently, explaining that the entrenched hostility toward Romero from the powerful meant that he would be persona non grata to the political establishment indefinitely.

Of course, MacEóin was right about the elites; Romero is “not a saint of their devotion”—as the Salvadoran expression goes—to this day. But many things were already changing by th…

The final days of Oscar Romero

Tuesday, March 24, is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Saint Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador.

Carlos Dada, founder of the online periodical El Faro, has been researching and reporting on the Romero murder for years.   His most recent piece, titled A 5-Millimeter Hole appeared in the English version of El Faro and is taken from a book he is working on. 

Dada describes in detail Romero's actions in the final few days of his life, beginning with the planning for the fateful final sermon which Romero would preach on Sunday, March 23 to the time when an assassin's single bullet would end the life of the voice for the voiceless.

Dada describes the fateful moment:
Romero read from the Gospel of John: “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” It was a short mass and the homily was brief. As he was giving it, a Volkswagen Passat crossed in front of the chapel, turned around in the…

El Salvador locks itself down

There are now three confirmed cases of the virus in El Salvador.   All those infected reportedly contracted the disease outside of the country – one person entered El Salvador through an irregular border crossing and was later identified at a hospital in Metapan, and the other two people were in quarantine after returning to El Salvador through the international airport from Spain.  So far the government says it has tested 102 persons for the virus.  There does not yet appear to be community transmission of the virus in El Salvador.  The government continues to prepare a 2000 bed temporary hospital in the CIFCO convention center.
Bukele addressed the nation again on Saturday night.  He declared a thirty day home quarantine for the entire country except for persons in specific classes such as public services, food production and delivery, essential utilities and delivery services, including one person in each family who can go out to buy food or to a pharmacy. Persons in the informal …