Femicide suicide

"Femicide suicide" is a crime specially recognized only in the laws of El Salvador.   It means a suicide by a woman escaping violence directed at her.  It is a horrible result of the gender violence which is endemic in El Salvador.

The full dimensions of this crisis are driven home powerfully in a multi-media reporting project titled simply In El Salvador, Violence is Driving Girls to Kill Themselves. The report was produced by Univision News in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting with production and reporting by Almudena Toral, Patricia Clarembaux and Julia Gavarrete.

Please go to the site and learn.   This is powerful journalism about a serious crisis.

Impunity watch

The possibility of justice for the victims of crimes against humanity during El Salvador's civil war, such as the massacre of children and others at El Mozote, is under attack this week.

In El Salvador's National Assembly, the Ad Hoc Commission, which was set up to decide what to do after the 1993 amnesty law was struck down, concluded its work.   The Commission handed over its work to the National Assembly, and legislative leaders announced that they would work to draft and pass legislation before June 1 so that outgoing president Salvador Sanchez Ceren can sign it.

A copy of the commission's proposal has now become public.  The draft legislation does several things: 

In the first five months after passage, the Attorney General's office must come up with a list of crimes against humanity to be prosecuted with input from victims groups and civil society.   Once that list is finalized, no other crimes can be included.
Any crimes being prosecuted must be prosecuted in the…

Mauricio Funes in Nicaragua

Ten years ago on June 1, 2009, Mauricio Funes took office as president of El Salvador to great hope and expectations.  He came into office as the first president elected from the left wing FMLN after decades of rule by conservative right wing parties.

How things have changed.   Funes now sits in exile in Nicaragua.   He is wanted in El Salvador for alleged diversion of as much as $300 million from secret accounts of the executive branch.  He is also wanted for leaking a confidential law enforcement memo related to the corruption of one of his predecessors, Francisco Flores. 

Funes, along with his mistress and three children received political asylum in Nicaragua in September 2016.  From Nicaragua, Funes tweets non-stop about politics in El Salvador.   It had not been clear that anyone was really paying him any attention.   Here is his Twitter profile:

But apparently incoming president Nayib Bukele was paying attention.  When Funes criticized the credentials of Alexandra Hill, Bukele&…

El Salvador coffee woes

Cultivation of coffee has played an important role in the history of  El Salvador.  It was a source of great wealth for the country's landed elites during much of the twentieth century and the country's leading export crop.   But today the industry is falling on increasingly hard times. 
A London-based coffee buyer, Mercanta, described the history of the Salvadoran coffee industry:
El Salvador is the smallest of the Central American nations, but don’t let its diminutive size fool you. It produces exceptional coffees to a consistently high standard. Mercanta regularly buys selected single varietals such as Orange/Pink Bourbon, Red Bourbon and Pacamara, and has strong, long-term relationships with many producers and mills in this small, coffee powerhouse.  The history of coffee in El Salvador is inextricably linked to the development of the nation, itself. Introduced in the late 1880’s, coffee quickly displaced indigo as the country’s chief export, and by the 1920s, coffee acco…

The armed forces of El Salvador

May 7th in El Salvador was the Day of the Soldier, a national day for honoring the country's armed forces.   The day is marked with military spectacle and speeches from the president and military leaders.   The armed forces released a video for the day:

So it is appropriate to take a short look at the role the armed forces play in El Salvador today.
With a population of approximately 6.5 million people, and land area the size of the US state of Massachusetts, El Salvador has a military with approximately 20,400 members. The budget for the Ministry of Defense during 2018 was approximately $175 million.   The military has three branches -- army, navy and air force.

The Salvadoran air force currently has 50 personnel in a helicopter unit deployed with a United Nations mission in Mali.  El Salvador has had troops deployed as part of this African mission since 2015.   Between 2004 and 2008 under president Tony Saca, El Salvador had more than 300 troops on the ground in Iraq as part of…

New amnesty proposal may advance in El Salvador

El Salvador's National Assembly will take the next step towards the possible passage of a new amnesty law on Monday according to a tweet from the Assembly's twitter account.  An Ad Hoc Commission of the National Assembly had been reviewing the possible responses to the 2016 decree of the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Judicial Court which struck down a 1993 amnesty law.   That amnesty law had essentially blocked all attempts to prosecute war criminals in Salvadoran courts.  Since 2016, cases seeking to hold certain military commanders and others responsible for crimes against humanity have started forward in Salvadoran courts.

The FMLN member of the Ad Hoc Commission, Nidia Diaz, tweeted that the Ad Hoc Commission had finished its mandate and that it was sending to the Political Commission of the National Assembly the suggestions and proposals and information gathered regarding the grounds for the Constitutional Chamber's decision so that a potential n…

Nayib Bukele will start presidency with positive support

Poll results  from the Institute of Public Opinion at the University of Central America show that Nayib Bukele will come into office on June 1 with solid support from the Salvadoran public.

In polling conducted at the end of March, 61.4% of those polled indicated that they have trust in Bukele.   An even greater percentage, 67.9%, believe that the country is going to improve under Bukele's administration.

The optimism the public shows for Bukele's administration is similar to the optimism shown for Mauricio Funes when he became the first president elected from the FMLN in 2009.

In contrast, the public is overwhelmingly disgusted with the country's political parties.  87% said they had little or no trust in political parties.   81% said the parties had little or no transparency.    80% are dissatisfied with how the parties function.

For the past week, Bukele has been announcing a new cabinet minister every other day.   So far he has only named women to his cabinet, giving t…