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Showing posts from November, 2006

SAN SALVADOR’S EPISCOPABILI

San Salvador's Episcopabli:
Five Men Who Might Be The Next Archbishop

By Carlos X. Colorado *
Special to Tim's El Salvador Blog

If San Salvador Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle retires, as every Roman Catholic bishop must, when he turns 75 on November 16, 2007 (on the 18th anniversary of the UCA Massacre!), then the Vatican has less than a year from now to decide his successor. Before a pope is elected, the Vatican press corps buzzes for years hand-picking the clerics they deem to be papabile (lit., “pope-able”). Nowhere near the same cottage industry exists to predict who is episcopabile, but it’s worth noting that the San Salvador archbishopric is associated with one of the most celebrated surprise turns in the recent history of clerical succession. When Oscar A. Romero was named to succeed Archbishop Luis Chavez, who had held the post for 38 years, the entire San Salvador clergy was famously gobsmacked by the announcement. Even more surprising would be the historical outc…

Carlos Perla and corruption

After years of trying to flee justice, Carlos Perla, returned to El Salvador today. Perla was the former head of ANDA, the Salvadoran water ministry. He is being charged with gross acts of corruption during his time there. Perla had fled to France and for more than a year had fought extradition, claiming that the charges against him in El Salvador were a political vendetta.

The Perla case brings into the spotlight the question of government corruption in El Salvador. Recently, Transparency International released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index. Although El Salvador ranks relatively well, (57th in the world, 8th in the Americas), its overall score of 4.0 qualifies the country as having serious perceived levels of corruption. As Transparency International works to show, corruption has a direct link to poverty:
“Corruption traps millions in poverty,” said Transparency International Chair Huguette Labelle. “Despite a decade of progress in establishing anti-corruption laws a…

Two years later -- questions remain over murder of Gilberto Soto

Two years after the November 2004 murder of US labor activist Gilberto Soto in El Salvador, questions remain about the murder and the subsequent police investigation. This week the Teamsters union in the US issued a press release urging US Secretary of Condoleeza Rice to pressure the Salvadoran government to reopen the investigation. The Salvadoran government has always contended that the murder was a family squabble, and not related to Soto's union activities, even though its prime suspect, Soto's mother-in-law, was acquitted at a trial in February 2006.

In response to a complaint by union organizations in El Salvador, on November 15 the International Labor Organization issued a report expressing concerns over the conduct of the investigation, and urging that the family and El Salvador's Human Rights Ombudswoman, Beatrice de Carillo, be given access to the investigation files.

You can see my previous posts on the Gilberto Soto murder mystery here.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Domestic violence is a serious problem in El Salvador with growing numbers of murders of women. From the IPS news service:
SAN SALVADOR, Nov 23 - The man attacked his wife, as he had done many times in the past, but this time he went further than ever before: he beat her almost to death, then killed their son, and finally committed suicide. No matter how tragic, it was just another everyday case of domestic violence, which claims the lives of nearly 300 Salvadoran women every year.

It happened at a home in an upper middle income neighbourhood in San Salvador, confirming the fact that no social group is free of the scourge of violence against women and children at the hands of a relative or acquaintance, as human rights organisations have amply reported.

However, women in the lowest income brackets are more vulnerable, make easier targets and, to cap it all, "they are of less concern," according to …

Campaign of support for head of Entre Amigos

There is currently a greeting card campaign to show solidarity with the head of Entre Amigos, an organization working in the GLBT community in El Salvador:
LONDON, November 20, 2006 – Amnesty International is encouraging people across the UK to send a message of solidarity to William Hernández – a gay activist in El Salvador who has received death threats apparently intended to deter him from campaigning – as Amnesty launches its annual Greetings Card Campaign.

William Hernández is the director of Asociación Entre Amigos (Between Friends Association) and he and other members of the organization have received death threats.

It is believed that these threats are attempts to prevent Hernández and his colleagues from providing sex education to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and also to discourage them to speak out against human rights violations against LGBT people.
Learn about how to send a card as part of this campaign here. You can also find links to other informatio…

Giving Thanks

An article from Action by Churches Together, describes one community giving thanks in El Salvador. The article describes aid efforts to campesino farmers whose crops were destroyed by Tropical Storm Stan last year, but who have recovered with a bountiful harvest in 2006:

San Lucas, El Salvador, November 15, 2006--Many cultures around the world have a time set aside each year for communities or families to gather and give thanks for what they have. Some of these traditions are celebrations that occur around the time of the harvest. One community in El Salvador was especially thankful this year as members gathered to share in work and in a meal – to celebrate the harvest again, after their supply of food was cut off last year during Tropical Storm Stan.

On September 13, the community of San Lucas, located on the border of the Tazula River in El Salvador, celebrated "la atolada." La atolada is an ancient tradition of pre-Hispanic origin in which the community makes a cream soup…

The week in review

I have been delinquent in posting updates to the blog in the last week, so here's a short summary of some of the highlights of the week.

US approves $400 million from the Millennium Challenge Account for El Salvador. From Reuters: The Millennium Challenge Corporation, which doles out U.S. foreign aid for anti-poverty programs in developing countries, said the funds for El Salvador would help develop roads and expand access to education, water, sanitation and electricity in the impoverished north. El Salvador, led by conservative President Tony Saca, is a strong U.S. ally and has a small contingent of troops in Iraq. But the country's isolated northern area is still scarred by a 12-year civil war in which the United States supported the right-wing Salvadoran government and its army. More than 75,000 people were killed during the 1980-1992 conflict. MCC chief executive John Danilovich said the decision was based on El Salvador's commitment to sound policies.
Rem…

The dollar flow into El Salvador

A new article in the Houston Chronicle, describes the impact, positive and negative, of the growing amount of money sent back to El Salvador by Salvadorans living in the US. These remittances have created families, and a country, dependent on the constant flow of dollars from abroad. Here are some of the points from the article:

Some say remittances make some recipients lazy, or at least picky about the work they will agree to do for low wages, leading to shortages of laborers in the fields of El Salvador

As a consequence of the labor shortage in the agricultural sector, as many as 200,000 Hondurans and Nicaraguans now come into El Salvador to work because they will work for lower wages than Salvadorans who have the support of remittances.

Remittances have led to some reduction in poverty in El Salvador.

Remittances have not been an engine of economic growth, but El Salvador has turned into a consumption society, consuming more than it produces.

Remittances allow youth to stay in school …

Maybe if we don't report it, it does not exist

The Salvadoran government is no longer going to give out statistics about the number of homicides in the country. According to La Prensa Grafica, the Institute of Legal Medicine (medical examiner's office), the National Police and the Attorney General's office have all adopted policies of not releasing homicide statistics. Rodrigo Avila, head of the National Police, asserts that there was a competition among the media to divulge the statistics and the criminals to increase the statistics, and so information on the total number of murders will no longer be provided. Do they really think anyone believes this? The official silence comes from the government's realization that the ever-increasing toll of violent deaths illustrates the utter failure of the ARENA government's attempts to stop them.

Lutheran Church clamors for justice

Following the cold-blooded murders of two of its much-beloved pastors, the Lutheran Church in El Salvador is clamoring for justice -- not just for those pastors, but for all who are afflicted by the wave of violence currently rolling over the country. Describing Francisco and Jesus Carillo as martyrs, the church vowed to continue its work on behalf of the poor. Read the statement of the church at this link.

Shakira in El Salvador

Latin pop star Shakira was in San Salvador Tuesday as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador promoting anti-violence activities among the youth of the country. From the UNICEF website:
At San Salvador’s Sports Palace, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and singer-songwriter Shakira greeted thousands of Salvadoran students who took part in a march against violence on Sunday.

“I am very glad to see you all gathered here, knowing that many of you, walking on the streets of your city since early morning, are already taking the first steps towards a better future for El Salvador,” she said.

Earlier in the day, more than 8,000 children and adolescents – including 6,000 students and 2,300 scouts – had marched in the streets of El Salvador’s capital city as part of a UNICEF campaign to protect children from violence.
There is also a video of her appearance available here.

Pastors Francisco and Jesus Carillo

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This message is from Father Dean Brackley, a teacher at the UCA in San Salvador and great friend of the Lutheran Church...

Dear friends,

Last night (Sunday) I joined members of the Jayaque community to receive the bodies of Francisco Carillo and his wife, Jesus Calzada de Carillo, co-pastors of the Lutheran Church in Jayaque.

Francisco and Jesusita were both shot in the Colonia Dos de Mayo, near Los Sí­tios on Saturday (Nov. 4) at 5:20PM as Francisco locked up the Lutheran chapel there following a religious service. His wife was shot and killed as she waited nearby in their vehicle parked and ready to take them and a couple of passengers home. Francisco was not killed immediately but actually died along the road at Los Chorros on the way to the hospital. (To compound the tragedy, by law the vehicle had to stop and call legal authorities --who do not work nights on weekends. The two bodies, along with the couple's two adult children, Roxana and Wilber, had to spend the night on the ro…

Two pastors of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church murdered

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From the Salvadoran Lutheran church:
San Salvador, Nov. 4 (ALS) With profound pain we are communicating to the national and international community the murder of Lutheran pastor Francisco Carrillo and his wife Jesús de Carrillo, also a pastor, gunned down on November 4 at 5:30 in the afternoon just after celebrating worship in “Montes de Pensbert Lutheran Church in Colonia Independencia, located in the Municipality of Jayaque in the central department of La Libertad.

The Carrillos worked with two churches located in the same municipality, "“Pan de Vida"” Lutheran Church located in the town center of Jayaque where they celebrated worship services on Sunday and the aforementioned church where they worked every Saturday afternoon.

According to preliminary investigations, three youthful subjects confronted the pastors and, during the crime, shot them repeatedly; both were killed instantly by the multiple gunshot wounds that they received.

At the writing of this statement (9:00 p…

The situation in El Salvador

Although I don't usually think much of the Washington Times, the paper this week had a fairly good summary of the economic situation in the country last week. Here is an excerpt:
Analysts contend that much of the reluctance of foreign companies to invest in El Salvador stems from concern that the country has yet to overcome the atrocities of its violent past and lacks a strong judiciary to protect foreign investors.

"The level of corruption and impunity in doing business here remains high," noted Alvaro Trigueros Arguello, an economic analyst for Fusades, the leading think tank in El Salvador.

"Legal security" for foreign investment remains a "major concern," conceded Mrs. Mayora. The continuing inefficacy of the country's courts to prosecute criminals in a timely manner has soured public opinion at home about the attitude the Arena government has toward the Salvadoran people and frightened foreign firms regarding the judicial bureaucracy of…

Commemorating civil war victims on Day of the Dead

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From the AP:
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador: Thousands of men, women and children who were killed or disappeared during El Salvador's 12-year civil war were remembered Thursday as part of the country's annual "Day of the Dead" celebrations.

About 200 people gathered before a mural displaying the names of approximately 26,000 civilian victims of the battle between left-wing guerrillas and the right-wing military government.

"I don't know what happened with my son and we never found his body. ... It's painful, all of this, but coming to this place consoles us," said a teary-eyed Josefa Arteaga, 71, as she stood in front of the monument to "Memory and Truth" in a capital park.

Arteaga, accompanied by her daughter, said her son Rigoberto had disappeared in June 1981 when he was 21 years old. "He left home, he didn't return and I never once saw him again," she said.(more)

Get tough policies on gangs counter-productive

The current get-tough policies of the Salvadoran government against youth gangs have been counter-productive according to a recent study: SAN SALVADOR, Nov 1 (IPS) - Tough policies against youth gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have only contributed to increasing crime, and an integrated approach that tackles the causes of the problem is urgently needed, according to civil society groups in Central America.

Research by the Central American Coalition for the Prevention of Youth Violence (CCPVJ) showed that the heavy-handed measures adopted in those three countries have provoked 'an adverse effect,' with increased violence and more homicides, in contrast to developments in Nicaragua, Mexico and neighbourhoods in Washington, DC that were included in the comparative study.

The number of murders committed by young people in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras rose by about 40 percent after the implementation of tough new policies in the last three years, Jeannette Aguilar…