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Showing posts from March, 2014

Turquoise-browed Motmot

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El Salvador's national bird is el Torogoz, which is easier to say and remember than its English version, the   Turquoise-browed Motmot.

From Wikipedia:
The Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) also called Torogoz by the inhabitants of El Salvador, Guardabarranco in Nicaragua, and the Toh in the Yucatán Peninsula, is a colourful, medium-sized bird of the motmot family, Momotidae. It inhabits Central America from south-east Mexico (mostly the Yucatán Peninsula), to Costa Rica, where it is common and not considered threatened. It lives in fairly open habitats such as forest edge, gallery forest and scrubland. It is more conspicuous than other motmots, often perching in the open on wires and fences. From these perches it scans for prey, such as insects and small reptiles. White eggs (3-6) are laid in a long tunnel nest in an earth bank or sometimes in a quarry or fresh-water well. Its name originates from the color of its brow, turquoise. Los Torogoces was also the name of…

The status of LGBT rights in El Salvador following the 2014 presidential election

The headline of the article is Transgender people voted for the first time in El Salvador's history,  but the situation the article describes is much less sanguine.   Despite a recent victory over discrimination at polling locations, the LGBT community in El Salvador faces entrenched societal and institutional discrimination in El Salvador.   Journalists Danielle Marie Mackey and Gloria Marisela Moran provide a candid assessment of the slow progress towards the elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The election process is really over

Today the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Court rejected by a vote of 3-2 the petition of ARENA which demanded a ballot by ballot recount of the vote from the March 9 presidential elections.   Following the ruling, ARENA released a statement indicating that it would abide by the court's decision because of ARENA's "democratic vocation" and "full respect for the institutionality" of El Salvador.  

While the process stirred up tensions and passions, in the end I think this very close election strengthened governance in the country.   We have had another election in El Salvador which was fought out with passion but not with violence.   The TSE was credited by all independent observers with running a fair and transparent election.   Despite the attacks from Norman Quijano and ARENA on the credibility of the TSE, it proceeded with great openness to follow the requirements of El Salvador's election laws to the letter.  

ARENA did challeng…

34th anniversary of assassination of Oscar Romero

March 24 is the 34th anniversary of the 1980 assassination of Salvadoran archbishop, Oscar Arnulfo Romero.   This church man who acted as the "voice of the voiceless"  was gunned down for turning the emphasis of his church to one which would demand justice for the oppressed, the poor, and the campesino.

Much is the same as on other anniversaries -- countless voices in Latin America still call on the Roman Catholic church to canonize Romero as a saint, while his killers go unpunished and uninvestigated by any Salvadoran authority.

Romero's mark on El Salvador and throughout Latin America has been profound.   On this anniversary, watch this music video of the song "Romero" by The Martyrs Project.


Key problem for next president? Police corruption

Governing El Salvador is no easy task.   It is made more difficult by endemic corruption which can extend to the highest levels within the National Civilian Police (PNC).

Insight Crime recently published a series of five detailed articles on police corruption in El Salvador by journalist Hector Silva, formerly of La Prensa Grafica, and now at the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University in Washington, D..C.   The series is taken from an upcoming book by Silva, and everyone should read it to understand the threat which corruption stemming from organized crime poses in the country.

Silva concludes the series:
Awaiting the new El Salvador government, which will take office in June this year, after the second voting round which will take place on March 9, discreet voices among US and El Salvador officials are starting to sound alarm bells: "At this stage it could be that the only solution is to get rid of those promoted early on [after the 1992 Peace Accord…

TSE finishes work -- Sanchez Ceren declared president-elect

El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) received the evidence of alleged fraud and heard testimony from witnesses from ARENA on Sunday, but ruled that the election of Salvador Sanchez Ceren would not be set aside. The TSE found that there was no proof of any repetitive or systematic activity affecting the outcome of the election. Accordingly, the TSE declared that Salvador Sanchez Ceren would begin his five year term as president and Oscar Ortiz would begin his five year term as vice-president on June 1, 2014.

El Faro has  a terrific photo gallery here which illustrates well the events of the past nine days commencing with the second round of the presidential election in El Salvador.

FMLN victory not yet official

The process under El Salvador's electoral code continues.    Before El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) can ratify Salvador Sanchez Ceren's election as El Salvador's next president, it must address several timely filed petitions from ARENA to set aside the election results.

According to La Prensa Grafica, the petitions include:

   A petition to set aside the election because there was no vote by vote recount and no review of the "null" and disputed votes.  A petition to set aside the election because the FMLN violated a TSE order and declared itself the victor prior to results being certified by the TSE  (of course so did ARENA)  A petition to set aside the election for illegal campaigning by president Mauricio Funes and ALBA Petroleum in the last days before the election  A petition to set aside the election because two magistrates of the TSE have not acted impartially.

The parties have until tomorrow to submit any and all proof and arguments to t…

Salvador Sánchez Cerén declared winner of El Salvador's presidential elections

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Last night Salvador Sánchez Cerén, the candidate of the left wing FMLN party in El Salvador was officially declared the winner of the March 9 elections to be president of the country.   The announcement came after a process called the "final scrutiny"  where voting tally sheets from every voting station were compared with the preliminary results released on Sunday night.   There were some revisions to the results which produced final totals which were higher than the preliminary totals, but ARENA was not able to close the gap.   The final total was 1,495,815 for Ceren to 1,489,451 for Quijano, or 50.11% to 49.89%.
ARENA has not yet accepted the results.   Party members continued demonstrating throughout the day demanding that the ballots be unsealed and the votes counted "voto por voto."   Norman Quijano continued to allege that ARENA had proof of significant fraud by the FMLN, but that proof has not been shared with the public.  ARENA claimed that 20,000 FMLN pol…

What's being written about El Salvador's election

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A lot is being written about El Salvador's very close presidential election and especially about ARENA candidate Norman Quijano's fiery rejection of the preliminary results showing him losing by slightly more than 6000 votes.   While we wait for the "final scrutiny" of the election from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), here is a sample of what others are saying:
The Associated Press commented on some of the reasons for ARENA's strong showing in the election: ARENA managed to make serious inroads with a campaign warning that the leftists might take the country on the course of Venezuela.   Roy Campos, president of the Consulta Mitofsky polling firm, said Quijano’s ads comparing the FMLN to Venezuela‘s leftist leaders, protests and economic scarcity may have worked, creating a situation where some voters “felt El Salvador was in danger.”
“Venezuela was an important factor,” Campos said.   Marcos Rodriguez of the nonprofit civic group Citizens’ Movement said, …

Process of final electoral "scrutiny" begins this morning

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No official victor has been declared in El Salvador's presidential election.   At the moment, Sánchez Cerén of the FMLN leads Norman Quijano of ARENA by 6604 votes --  1,494,114 to 1,487,510.

The process of checking each of the 10,445 "actas" or tally sheets on which the votes are recorded in El Salvador's presidential election begins this morning.   There will be 23 work tables made up of election officials, and representatives of the Attorney General, Human Rights Ombudsman and the political parties.

This is one of those actas which will be reviewed (click to enlarge)

I was an election observer in the community of Nahualapa in El Rosario, La Paz, to watch the vote counting which led to the filling out of this specific form, and I can vouch that it was filled out in accordance with the vote count.   It is also important to note that the form is signed at the top by the four election officials from the table  (two from each party) and by the election monitors from ea…

Salvador Sanchez Ceren has narrowest lead in preliminary election results

In El Salvador's presidential election on Sunday, the preliminary victor is Salvador Sánchez Cerén of the left-wing FMLN, but by the slightest of margins, and with a final count of the votes yet to come.  Preliminary results are released on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal ("TSE") website very quickly after the votes are counted at polling places. Five hours after the polls were closed, 99.8% of the votes had been counted and Salvador Sánchez Cerén of the FMLN had a very slight  6264 vote lead out of almost 3 million votes cast.

Both both parties declared themselves the victors of the election despite the warning by the TSE that no party should claim victory without the pronouncement of the TSE.

What had started as a day filled with what Salvadoran like to call "our great civic fiesta" ended with tension and riot police guarding the facilities of the TSE.   Much of the blame for this tension must be placed squarely at the feet of Norman Quijano and his post elect…

Listen to original ‘Radio Venceremos’ broadcasts online

In a partnership between the University of Texas at Austin and the Museum of Word and Image in San Salvador, you can now listen to archived recordings of the broadcasts of Radio Venceremos during the civil war years.   Radio Venceremos was the clandestine radio station of the FMLN guerrillas and sought to encourage the revolutionary movement in the country.   One of the leaders of Radio Venceremos was Carlos Consalvi, who went on to found the museum after the war.

From the UT announcement of the project:
"My hope is that young Salvadorans and descendants of Salvadorans will approach these recordings and learn about the country's contemporary history and learn more about their culture,” explained Carlos Henríquez Consalvi, the co-founder of Radio Venceremos, and founder and director of the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (MUPI), the Salvadoran museum that houses the recordings....  "For a historian looking at the contemporary history of Central America, regardless of thei…

The second round at the polls

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The second round of El Salvador's presidential election will be next Sunday, March 9.   The second round includes the two highest finishers from the first round voting -- Salvador Sánchez Cerén of the  FMLN on the left and Norman Quijano of ARENA on the right.   The winner of this fifth post civil war election will take office on June 1.   In this post I'll take a look at some of the coverage and issues going into Sunday's vote.

For a comprehensive overview of El Salvador's 2014 presidential elections including a look at previous elections, make sure and look at this entry from the World Elections blog.

The polls certainly suggest an easy victory for Sánchez Cerén and the FMLN in the second round.   Linda Garrett at Center for Democracy in the Americas has assembled a tally of all the recent polls, and Sánchez Cerén's lead ranges from 10 % to 18%.    In his blog Mike Allison points to questions asked in the UCA poll to explain ARENA's collapse: According to t…