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Showing posts from February, 2016

Possible pension reform in El Salvador

Pensions for elderly retirees in El Salvador are available only for those workers who had the good fortune to have a job in the government or the formal economy.    But a large percentage of the working population, especially women, works informally in such jobs as domestic workers.   This leaves them vulnerable and entirely dependent on family when they are are no longer able to work.
There is talk, and so far not much more, that El Salvador may reform its public pension system to take greater account of the needs of women.   IPS reports on possible reform in an article titled El Salvador Pension Reform Could Take Women into Account:
People working in the informal sector of the economy, 65 percent of whom are women, do not pay into the system and will have no right to a retirement pension, economist Julia Evelin Martínez, a researcher at the José Simeón Cañas Central American University School of Economy, told IPS.....  Lawmakers did not create rules enabling people in the informal …

Life and death for a transgender woman in El Salvador

Sometimes individual stories can help bring understanding to a complex national story.   Sometimes they just leave questions.    The article At the Devil’s Door: The unsolved murder of Tania Vasquez does both.  

Danielle Mackey explores the unsolved murder of a transgender activist in a country where violence against the LGBT community is high, and almost never prosecuted:
Tania was a transgender activist in a country where it’s dangerous to be openly not heterosexual and especially to be transgender.  One February afternoon in 2013, she stood with a megaphone at a busy street corner outside the National University of El Salvador, where someone had written, in soot-black, 2-foot tall letters: “Defend your homeland, Kill a lesbian or a gay.”  Tania and 20-odd others gathered, denouncing the daily discrimination they face: denied jobs, ostracized from families and schools, targeted for violent attacks by cops, gangs and civilians. They painted over the graffiti. When the sun set, they l…

Three former El Salvador presidents investigated for corruption

Written by Arron Daugherty and originally published on the website of InsightCrime.

El Salvador's past three presidents have now been accused of corruption, a possible sign the Supreme Court is ready to take on the nation's highest political office.

Former El Salvador President Mauricio Funes (2009-2014) is likely to face three separate investigations into his assets, including a money laundering case, an unnamed source close to the Supreme Court told Diario Latino.

Funes is already embroiled in an illicit enrichment case and has had certain assets frozen, including four bank accounts, El Faro reported. Accusations against the former president revolve around his inability to account for millions of dollars in personal income and assets. Funes has maintained his innocence and claimed he is being persecuted by his political rivals.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court has informed Funes' predecessor, Elías Antonio Saca (2004-2009), that he must account for over $6 million in personal …

Arrests of officers in Jesuit case roil El Salvador

Last weekend, El Salvador's police arrested four former military officers sought under an international arrest warrant issued by a court in Spain in the case of the 1989 Jesuit murders.   El Salvador's police captured only 4 of the 17 military officers sought by Spain.   Twelve of the officers have gone into hiding, and El Salvador's police say they could not locate them.   The police blame their inability to locate the officers on the delay and confusion caused by El Salvador's courts in interpreting whether the warrant through Interpol could actually be enforced.  One additional officer had been jailed in the US for immigration crimes and is now being extradited to Spain.

Lawyers have petitioned the country's Supreme Judicial Court to free the men.   It appears that the final decision of whether the ex-soldiers will be extradited to Spain rests in the hands of the court.  (There doesn't seem to be much of an effort to find the missing twelve).

The lawyer for…

Salvadoran police detain former military officers in Jesuit case

Friday night, February 5, Salvadoran police detained 2 or 3 (news accounts differ) of the 17 former military officers sought by a court in Spain in connection with the 1989 slaying of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter.   This is the first step in their extradition towards Spain, but we are a long way from seeing El Salvador actually send former military officers to face justice in the infamous case.

Also on Friday, a US judge ordered the extradition to Spain of former Salvadoran vice minister of security Inocente Orlando Montano.   Montano had been in jail in the US on charges of immigration fraud and now will be heading to face Spanish justice in the Jesuits case.

Investigating the gang truce

Ever since the so-called "tregua" or truce between El Salvador's leading gangs began in March 2012, the details of the government's role in the truce have been murky at best.   It is acknowledged that top gang leaders were transferred from a high security prison to lesser security prisons on the same weekend that homicide rates dramatically dropped.    But beyond that fact, and whether the transfer was part of a quid pro quo, is the subject of dispute.

The issue exploded back to the surface this week when La Prensa Grafica published details of statements from a court proceeding involving a 2014 attack in Quezaltepeque.  Anonymous gang member witnesses alleged in those statements that in 2012 the government had negotiated with the gangs as part of the truce and made a series of benefits available to the gang leaders.  Those benefits included not only the transfer to lesser security prisons, but also the installation of electricity in their cells (important for chargi…

January murders continue 2015 trend

The beginning of the new year in El Salvador has seen a continuation of the very high levels of killings seen in the second half of 2015.  According to government statistics, 738 homicides were committed in El Salvador during January 2016.   This compares to 336 in the same month in 2015.   Put another way, in 2015 the country averaged a horrific 19 homicides per day.   In January 2016, the average was 24.

This tragedy in El Salvador has produced many articles in the English language press in the past month trying to understand this unprecedented level of violence.   Here are some:

The Washington Post tried to explain Why El Salvador became the hemisphere’s murder capital.

Forbes had an interview with Adriana Beltran of the Washington Office on Latin America regarding El Salvador's public security crisis.

At OpenDemocracy, Carlos Rosales and Ana Leonor Morales have an article on the growing prevalence of "social cleansing" reflected in the murder rate.

photo gallery a…

Zika in El Salvador

The world has woken up to the mosquito-borne Zika virus, and today the World Health Organization declared it a global health emergency.  El Salvador has already had 6310 suspected cases of the disease starting in 2015.

At the moment, there are no confirmed cases of Zika-related microcephaly in El Salvador, the birth defect producing abnormally small heads in babies, which has been tentativley linked to Zika in Brazil.   The advice of El Salvador’s health ministry that women postpone pregnancies until 2018 was widely reported.  

The advice on pregnancy, however, also highlights the question of how such advice could even be followed in El Salvador, where rape is common, teen pregnancy prevalent, and access to reproductive health services often limited.  As reported on the website of RH Reality Check: The potential inability to plan for pregnancies—or prevent them—is exacerbated by El Salvador’s weak policies around sexual and reproductive health services. Both García and Salvadoran OB…