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Showing posts from July, 2015

Crisis caused by threats against buses deepens

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For a second day, more than a thousand buses on 40 bus routes in the greater San Salvador area were not operating.   Bus owners pulled their units off the streets in response to gangs who were threatening with death anyone who did not comply.    And it was no idle threat, as the number of murders of transport workers since Sunday rose to 8.

The economic cost imposed by the gangs on the country was enormous.   Bus operators said they were losing $800,000 per day.   As many as 4000 drivers lost their daily wages.    Thousands of workers could not get to work.     Productivity was lost as workers arrived late after scrambling to find alternate transportation and businesses closed early to give workers a chance to arrive home safely.   Secondary schools and universities cancelled classes when students did not show up.

Tonight President Salvador Sanchez Ceren went on national television and radio to announce what his government was doing to counter the gangs' actions.  The president s…

After killings, buses stop running and thousands stranded

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Traffic in the greater San Salvador area was in utter chaos today.   The chaos was created when as many as 40 bus routes, run by private operators, refused to send their buses out.   The bus stoppage was in reaction to the murders of four bus drivers in the past two days by El Salvador's gangs, and the burning of two micro-buses in the San Salvador suburb, Ciudad Delgado.  The bus operators claimed they had pulled their buses from the streets to demand the government do a better job in tackling the gang violence.   Private bus operators pay thousands of dollars each month in extortion payments to the gangs.

The streets of the capital city were choked with traffic as people who normally ride the buses sought out cars and the back of pick-ups and small trucks to get to work or school.   Everyone wanted to know what the government was going to do, but it was not clear what the government could do.   The government tweeted that it was providing school buses and other transportation to…

Claims of coup d'etat

The FMLN government in El Salvador is making claims that elements on the right are attempting to foment a coup to destabilize and overthrow the government.  Describing it as "obscure groups" advancing a "black hand strategy,"  the FMLN asserts that these anti-government plots are being advanced through social networks.   They described it as an attempt to foment a "soft coup" and not necessarily a violent overthrow using the armed forces.

The right wing ARENA party has reacted angrily to the accusations and demanded that the government show its proof of any plan against the government.   To date, the government has not publicly shown any proof.

I am no fan of the right wing parties in El Salvador.    But it seems to me that talk of coups is a pretty transparent attempt by the FMLN to rally the party faithful at a time when the government's popularity is slipping because of its failure to address the public security problems in the country.

El Salvador gangs call for a renewed truce

Originally published at InSightCrime.org, written by Sam Tabory, July 17, 2015

In a letter addressed to government officials, gang leaders in El Salvador have called for the reinstatement of a gang truce, challenging the government's hardline security policies.

The letter was made public on July 15, a month after it was delivered to authorities in mid-June, reported La Prensa Grafica. In the body of the letter, gang leaders ask for a "mechanism" that would allow for dialogue and an eventual peace agreement. The gang leaders who signed this latest statement are all currently being held in El Salvador's maximum security prison.

News of the letter comes amid a slight dip in homicide numbers, with police reportingthat the first two weeks of July saw an average of 14 killings a day, down from 22 in May and June. This follows what has been reported as record levels of violence for the country.

Unsurprisingly, government officials have responded dismissively to the letter. …

Opposition to gold mining runs deep in El Salvador

A recent poll by the University of Central America shows that three fourths of Salvadorans in affected areas are opposed to the resumption of mining of gold and other metals in their country.   There has been a moratorium on granting permits for such mining since the mid-2000s under the Tony Saca ARENA administration and continuing under the subsequent FMLN governments.

From the bulletin describing the poll results:
Consistent with the majority of people who think that the country is not appropriate for this activity, 76% of those polled expressed disagreement with the opening of mining projects in their municipality. Only 19.8% expressed agreement and 4.2% either did not respond or expressed indecision.  According to the respondents,this broad based rejection of metallic mining is associated, in large part, with the negative impact that metallic mining would have on the environment and on natural resources.Of those consulted, 89.9% expressed the view that mining would have grave effe…

Drone captures El Salvador's beauty

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Enjoy this video of the wonders of El Salvador as captured from a drone-mounted video camera.

US State Department Human Rights Report for El Salvador

Last month the US State Department issued its Human Rights Report for 2014 for El Salvador.   The following is the Executive Summary: El Salvador is a constitutional multi-party republic. In March voters elected Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) as president for a five-year term in generally free and fair elections. Free and fair legislative assembly and municipal elections took place in 2012. Authorities failed at times to maintain effective control over the security forces.   The principal human rights problems were widespread corruption; weaknesses in the judiciary and the security forces that contributed to a high level of impunity; and abuse, including domestic violence, discrimination, and commercial sexual exploitation of women and children.   Other human rights problems included isolated unlawful killings and cruel treatment by security forces, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, lengthy pretrial detention, some restricti…

Severe drought affecting eastern El Salvador

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For the second year in a row, drought is greatly reducing the production of corn, beans and other foodstuffs in El Salvador.   The map above shows the number of days without rain since June 14.  As the map shows, the most severe impact is in the east, where the rains have not been falling since June 14 in what is supposed to be the rainy invierno season.  Much of the first harvest has been lost, and farmers can only hope for rain to resume so that a second planting can mature before October. Detect languageAfrikaansAlbanianArabicArmenianAzerbaijaniBasqueBelarusianBengaliBosnianBulgarianCebuanoCatalanChichewaChinese (Simplified)Chinese (Traditional)CroatianCzechDanishDutchEnglishEsperantoEstonianFilipinoFinnishFrenchGalicianGeorgianGermanGreekGujaratiHaitian CreoleHausaHebrewHindiHmongHungarianIcelandicIgboIndonesianIrishItalianJapaneseJavaneseKazakhKannadaKhmerKoreanLaoLatinLatvianLithuanianMacedonianMalagasyMalayMalayalamMalteseMaoriMarathiMongolianMyanmar (Burmese)NepaliNorwegianPer…

Internal displacement and government denial

Researcher Sonja Wolf has published a two part article on gang violence in El Salvador and the forced internal displacement it produces.   Regarding  the issue of displacement she writes:
The full magnitude and nature of displacement are hard to ascertain, because the phenomenon is a silent one. No large population groups are dislocated, as happens during an armed conflict, but rather individuals and families from across the country. The profile of displaced persons is diverse, ranging from traders, teachers, and students to police agents, soldiers, doctors, and evangelical ministers. The victims receive threats for reasons such as the refusal to join a gang, be a gang member’s girlfriend, and to pay extortion; opposition to the gang; gang enforcement; or collaboration with the justice system. For the most part, they do not report the threats to the authorities. Victims relocate internally when their economic situation prevents them from going abroad or travel irregularly to places su…

Stunning wedding chapel is architecture award contender

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A stunning chapel overlooking Lake Coatepeque in El Salvador is a contender in this year's World Architecture Festival.  Named "Cardedeu," the chapel was designed by EMC Arquitectura.    Click here for a set of photos of this modern chapel set above a volcanic crater lake.
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