FMLN bosses pick a presidential candidate

The leadership of the left wing FMLN has apparently chosen the former Minister of Public Works, Gerson Martínez, to be the party's candidate for the 2019 presidential elections in El Salvador.  The FMLN has held the presidency since 2009, but faces an uphill challenge in 2019 with an unpopular current president and the presidential ambitions of San Salvador mayor Nayib Bukele and his new political party called Nuevas Ideas (New Ideas).

Gerson Martínez is a 63 year old former guerrilla.  His actual name is Manuel Orlando Quinteros Aguilar, but he has used the name Gerson Martínez since the time he was a student activist.  He was one of the persons involved in the founding of the FMLN guerrilla coalition in 1980 and played leadership roles in the FMLN guerrilla movement during the country's civil war.   After the signing of the 1992 Peace Accords, Martínez was elected to the National Assembly as an FMLN deputy in 1994 and was re-elected every three years until 2009 when he was …

A post-TPS decision reading list

The decision of the Trump administration to cancel Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador and the president's use of the term "shithole" to refer to El Salvador has prompted the appearance of many essays and articles in the past week and a half.

Some authors emphasized the human and economic cost of the TPS decision:

The El Salvador Tragedy, Linda Greenhouse, New York TimesThese Women Have Spent Years Cleaning Up After Senators Who Now Want To Deport Them, Dave Jamieson, Huffington PostTrump's latest immigration crackdown threatens the economy — both in the US and in El Salvador, Christopher Woody, Business Insider
Unsurprisingly, several articles focused on the level of violence in El Salvador.

Salvadorans forced to return home will face one of the most dangerous places on the planet, Robert Muggah and Isabel de Sola, Los Angeles TimesEx-gang members in El Salvador fear more crime if TPS ends, Patrick Oppmann and Natalie Gallón, CNNWhy Is El Salvador so dangerous?…

The limited good news from El Salvador

A recent article in Americas Quarterly is  titled "The Good News About El Salvador,"  and was written by researchers Robert Muggah and Katherine Aguirre.   Muggah is the co-founder of a Brazilian think tank named the  the Igarapé Institute which is hosting a conference on urban security and violence prevention in San Salvador next week. 

The researchers described the "good news" they found in El Salvador:
But today, 26 years since the signing of the Chapultepec Peace Accords, El Salvador has reason to be hopeful: After years of sustained investment in security and violence prevention, the country's murder rate is on its way down. The same is true of violence-plagued neighbors Honduras and Guatemala, where murder rates have fallen dramatically in recent years. This regional turnaround can offer lessons to policymakers from Brasília to Mexico City.   That’s not to say that all is well; violence in the so-called Northern Triangle is still tragically commonplace. …

Lost TPS? Go to Qatar

One of the stranger developments in the story of increasing deportations of Salvadorans from the US are the efforts of El Salvador's government to find them a home in Qatar.  One year ago, a Qatar emissary was in El Salvador for the 25th anniversary of the Peace Accords, and the office of El Salvador's president reported that they discussed the possibility of greater investment by Qatar in El Salvador.  Exactly a year later,  the Salvadoran government reported that it was now discussing sending migrant workers to Qatar.
According to Reuters: El Salvador is discussing a deal with Qatar under which Salvadoran migrants facing the loss of their right to stay in the United States could live and work temporarily in the Middle Eastern country, the government of the Central American nation said on Tuesday....  Presidential communications chief Eugenio Chicas said El Salvador was in talks to see how Salvadorans could be employed in Qatar, a wealthy country of some 2.6 million people t…

26th anniversary of Peace Accords

Tuesday, January 16, is the 26th anniversary of the signing of the Peace Accords which ended El Salvador's civil war.   To commemorate the date, here are some images from the Monument to Peace and Reconciliation in San Salvador which was unveiled last year.   For a full description of the Monument, visit Linda's El Salvador Blog.

With few local English speakers, call centers need deportees

Education First recently published the seventh edition of its world English Proficiency Index.    The Index ranks countries by the English language skills of their population.  In that index, El Salvador finished last among all the Latin American countries and finished 69th out of the 80 countries worldwide included in the Index.  El Salvador's English proficiency was classified as "very low."
Spending a great deal of time in El Salvador, this was not particularly surprising to me.   Although Salvadoran public schools purport to teach English, I have met very few high school students who have achieved much more than being able to ask my name and to count in English.   

This lack of locally produced English language skills explains why call centers, which are a major industry in El Salvador, are looking forward to growing numbers of deportations under the Trump administration, especially with the cancellation of TPS.  Reuters recently reported:
The [call center] industry…

The race for mayor of San Salvador

The mayor's office of San Salvador is one of the most prominent political positions in El Salvador after the position of president.   It is a position which has gone back and forth between the major political parties over the past 25 years.    The current holder of the post, the popular Nayib Bukele, is not running for re-election after he was expelled from his former party, the FMLN.

The candidates proposed by the major political parties are:

Ernesto Muyshondt -- ARENAJackeline Rivera -- FMLN
Both candidates are currently deputies in the National Assembly.  Opinion polls released in November and December of 2017 gave a fairly substantial lead to Muyshondt, but there are still large groups of undecided voters.    It could be that voters are undecided because they do not know who the candidates for mayor are.   The recent UCA poll showed that more than 80% of those polled did not know the names of the two major party candidates.

The announced proposals of both Muyshondt and Rivera a…