Showing posts from June, 2018

A Salvadoran reality of gender-based violence ignored by Jeff Sessions

Women, bringing their children, are fleeing gender-based violence in El Salvador and seeking asylum in the United States.   Yet, in the case of a woman from El Salvador, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is re-writing asylum law to eliminate the possibility of protection for these women.

From the American Immigration Council:
In the latest attack on asylum seekers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions single-handedly overturned years of immigration precedent to find that many victims of violence will not qualify for asylum. His strongly-worded opinion strikes an especially devastating blow to Central American asylum seekers, the vast majority of whom seek protection in the United States after fleeing gang violence, domestic violence, or both. Sessions certified to himself a 2016 decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in Matter of A-B-, a case involving a woman from El Salvador who was granted asylum based on severe domestic violence she experienced. In his decision, he targets a…

Mauricio Funes and the garbage bags full of cash

This article originally appeared on the website of InsightCrime with the title El Salvador Ex-President Funes’ Trash Bags Full of Money

Written by Héctor Silva Ávalos - JUNE 13, 2018

El Salvador has not sparked as much attention as its neighbors when it comes to corruption scandals, but a litany of accusations against former President Mauricio Funes and his relatives along with millions of dollars transferred in trash bags might change that.

The scheme was relatively straight forward. A member of the corruption network allegedly headed by former Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes during his 2009 to 2014 term would arrive at a state bank, fill up big black trash bags with thousands of dollars in cash and then drive them to the presidential residence.

The money was allegedly for Funes, his family and other members of his inner circle who used it to pay for travel, properties, luxury goods and services such as plastic surgery, according to El Salvador’s Attorney General’s Office.

The tra…

The battle over water legislation in El Salvador

The month of June has seen a surge in the conflict over the water crisis in El Salvador and what steps are necessary to solve it. This dispute has persisted without resolution for many years in El Salvador, but recent changes in power in El Salvador may be giving business interests an opportunity to enact their favored legislation.

Four days after the June 1 start of a new National Assembly dominated by parties of the right, the Assembly's Commission on the Environment and Climate Change announced that it would proceed with discussions of the “Ley Integral de Agua"  (Comprehensive Water Law).  The Commission made no mention of a proposed "General Water Law" which has been advocated for years by environmental groups, the Catholic church and the University of Central America.  After the conservative coalition of parties achieved a super majority in the March 4, 2018 elections, the prospect that they could pass the "Ley Integral" is now very real.  The Ley In…

Ex-president Mauricio Funes faces $351 million corruption charge

El Salvador elected him in 2009 with great hope and public acclaim -- Mauricio Funes was the first president of El Salvador from the left wing FMLN.   This weekend, however, El Salvador's attorney general is seeking an arrest warrant for Funes arising out of a corruption case involving the diversion of $351 million from Salvadoran government accounts.  Funes is in exile in Nicaragua where he has been since 2016.

From Reuters:
El Salvador’s attorney general ordered the arrest on Friday of former president for alleged embezzlement and money laundering, in addition to allegedly covering up various illicit acts during his government.  Funes, who has been in exile in Nicaragua since September 2016, is accused of using public funds to pay for trips, home remodeling and hospital bills, among other expenses.  The attorney general also sought the arrest of 29 other people, including relatives of Funes and former officials in his administration. The online periodical El Faro has a detailed…

Restoring El Salvador's coffee industry

In recent years, El Salvador's coffee production was hit hard by a fungus known as "roya" which decreased the coffee harvest by as much as 60% in the country.   This blow to the coffee sector cost tens of thousands of jobs in the small country.

This chart using data at the International Coffee Organization shows the steep drop off in Salvadoran coffee production starting in 2012:

Now Reuters reports on how many farmers are turning to higher quality beans, which require more intensive care but also fetch a higher price in world markets:
Farmers in the Central American country have turned to specialty coffee trees - identified by fanciful names such as bourbon, geisha and pacas - in hopes of reviving a local industry devastated by crop disease just a few years ago.  The trees produce some of the world’s highest quality coffee, beans with distinctive tastes prized by consumers in the United States and elsewhere who are willing to pay up for top-drawer coffee. Specialty cof…

Truth of war atrocities lies in military and government archives

Three recent news articles remind us that part of the road towards justice in El Salvador runs through military and government archives in El Salvador and in the United States.   
Elizabeth Malkin's recent  article in the New York Times offers another story of the search for justice by survivors of the massacre of children and others at El Mozote and surrounding communities.  As she notes, some questions might only be answered in those military and government archives:   “The survivors say they don’t even know who to forgive,” she said, adding a refrain she hears from the witnesses: “‘What were we doing that they wanted to inflict so much harm on us?’”  The explanation could lie in the military archives, but the army has told the court that records of the operation do not exist. What may help uncover the military secrets are records kept far from El Salvador.
American support means that “the U.S. archives are chock-full of information about the El Mozote massacre,” said Kate Doyle…