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Showing posts from September, 2012

Funes popularity remains high

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Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes continues to have very high approval ratings after more than three years in office according to recent poll results from the Mitofsky consulting firm.   Funes 72% approval rating is the second highest in the Americas, trailing only Rafael Correa of Ecuador.   (Barack Obama is 10th with a 49% approval rating).

Democracy in El Salvador

The World Politics Review has published an article on the state of Salvadoran democracy titled Democracy in Progress: El Salvador's Unfinished Transition.   The article, by Michael Shifter and Rachel Schwartz of Inter-American Dialogue, makes the point that, while the election of Mauricio Funes marked an important point in consolidating the gains of democracy after the 1992 Peace Accords, much is left to be done.  
The authors write:
Funes’ electoral victory in 2009 is a testament to the political opening created by the landmark 1992 peace accords signed in Chapultepec, Mexico, by the Salvadoran state and the FMLN, which allowed an armed revolutionary movement to transform itself into a conventional political party and vie for national power. Moreover, the rise of Funes in particular, who worked as a journalist and in 1994 was awarded Columbia University’s Cabot Prize for promoting press freedom and inter-American understanding, marks a sharp break with El Salvador’s authoritaria…

Lake Coatepeque turns turquoise

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One of El Salvador's natural treasures, Lake Coatepeque, has turned a bright turquoise color.   The unusual coloring is from an algae bloom in the lake.  From the Costa Rica Star:
The authorities of El Salvador declared an emergency in the area of Lake Coatepeque, in the northwest of the country due to an algae bloom that has changed the color of its waters.  The decision was adopted by the National Red Tide Commission, made of the Ministries of Environment, Health and Agriculture, because of the unusual phenomenon, which gives the water an intense turquoise color.  As a preventive measure, the committee issued a ban on the extraction and consumption of fishery products from the lake, in Santa Ana department.  According to preliminary investigations, the change is the result of the proliferation of micro algae species Microcystis aeruginosa, Oscillatoria limosa and Ceratium furca.  The degree of their toxicity is not yet determined, so the government has declared an emergency as …

Carlos Cañas

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Salvadoran painter Carlos Cañas is the winner of the 2012 National Cultural Prize in El Salvador.  

During the seventies and eighties, this Marxist painter put his art to the service of social criticism.   His famous work "Sumpul", shown above, provides a chilling representation of the 1980 massacre at the Sumpul River in Chalatenango.   Today the painting can be found hanging in the MARTE Museum in San Salvador.  

The Associated Press interviewed Cañas in 1984 as he worked on Sumpul, where he described his style as "magical realism."   Cañas stated "I do as [writer Gabriel] Garcia Marquez does, using magic to tell the truth.  I document things and events though my painting."

You can see more of his works at this link.

Embracing El Salvador

A new blog titled Afflicted With Hope is at www.embracingelsalvador.org.   This site is the work of my friends Donald Seiple and Caroline Schaefer.   Their goal is  "to create an oral history project of some of the intriguing life stories people had shared with us in order to 1) preserve them for posterity and 2) raise the awareness within readers who would otherwise know nothing of these people."

Here is an  example from one of the recent profiles:
Juan,  would you describe your day as a fisherman?Sometimes when the tide is good, I get up at 4 AM and prepare the boat and nets, get the engine ready and watch the waves.  When the time is right, the two of us get into the small boat and go!  Depending on the conditions, we may have to wait before lowering the nets.  That may mean taking a short nap or talking to our friends in another boat while we wait.  We may check for fish with a pole to see if they are in the area.  Then we try with the small net first before lowering the…

LGBT in El Salvador

I frequently point readers to articles written by my friend Danielle Mackey on her blog Grit and Grace.    They are consistently well written and offer insights about El Salvador not found anywhere else from someone writing in English.     A good example of this is Danielle's recent three part series:  Historical Moments: The LGBT Community in El Salvador.   In this series we read about the struggles of the LGBT community in El Salvador where prejudice and violence run strongly through society.  From one of Danielle's interviews of a young lesbian activist:
My idea for the future is that we can live in peace, and I say that not just for the LGBT community, but for El Salvador as a whole. We have such a high level of violence that is not just expressed as homicides or as gang violence, even though it’s usually reduced to that, but there are all sorts of violence---gender, social, physical, sexual, economic violence. You’re not only targeted for your sexual orientation, but for …

Threat to the lung of San Salvador

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Our friends at Voices from El Salvador blog have a new post about threats to El Espino, the forested natural area on San Salvador's western border along the slopes of the volcano.   Parcels of the preserve are getting sold off, leading to fears that more of the land will give way to development.

 The area is often referred to as the "lung" of San Salvador.  These forested acres are important as a carbon sink, as a filter for waters flowing down the slopes, and as a natural break from the sprawling urbanization of the capital city.

As Voices notes, the recent sales cause concern:
Most of El Espino, including the sections that were recently auctioned off, is technically still a protected area, so it’s unlikely that Argueta Manzano and Arguello González will be breaking out chainsaws in the immediate future. But they and others have invested millions of dollars in buying land, surely with the expectation that they will be able to develop it sometime in the future. There is…

Truce or not, violence persists

The Associated Press has published a lengthy story about the gang truce in El Salvador and whether it is a real improvement in the situation of violent crime in the country.

The AP article starts with some old news, the murder of 5 high school boys from Santa Tecla in June.  This high profile murder of the boys, who it is theorized had refused to be recruited by a gang, is prime evidence for those who say the March truce is a mirage.

Officials in El Salvador don't share a common view on this point:
Carlos Ponce, an expert on crime for the Salvadoran Attorney General's Office, says the truce is a sham. "It's all a lie, the gangs continue to operate, people continue getting killed, people keep disappearing and the gangs get stronger and stronger," he said. The Security and Justice Ministry reports that murders in the first eight months of 2012 are already down more than 30 percent, to 1,894. For the most part, the national medical examiner's office confirms tho…