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Water crisis in El Salvador

A recent article by Nina Lakhani in the Guardian titled Living without water: the crisis pushing people out of El Salvador  is an excellent summary of how a failure to comprehensively manage the precious resource of water in El Salvador threatens many in the country.  As summarized in the article:
Years of drought has prompted water rationing in urban and rural areas across the country. Yet much is wasted: most rainwater is lost due to widespread deforestation and eroded river basins; once in the system, 48% of water is lost through leaks.  Sources are already running dry: the Nejapa aquifer provides 40% of the water used by the overcrowded capital, but the water level has shrunk by 20% in the past five years alone....  “There are no clear rules, no sanctions, no monitoring, and big business uses these legal vacuums to exploit water as a product for profit. It’s the poorest who suffer most." That article should be read in conjunction with Heather Gies' excellent overview of E…

Following US policy towards El Salvador

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Many US officials have been talking about and visiting El Salvador in the first 12 days of August.   At the beginning of August came a statement from acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan that the US is seeking to negotiate a Safe Third Party agreement with El Salvador and Honduras similar to the agreement that the US says it has negotiated with Guatemala.   Such agreements are proposed to prevent migrants who pass through such countries from being able to successfully seek asylum in the US.  There has not been an official statement from the Salvadoran government about the concept.

On August 9, a Congressional delegation of Democrats arrived in El Salvador led by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.   Speaker Pelosi expressed skepticism about Trump's plan to enter safe third party agreements with the Central American countries.  Her joint press conference with president Nayib Bukele can be viewed here.

[I have no idea what Nancy Pelosi meant in her remark…

Recent news from El Salvador

Here are a collection of short highlights from recent news in El Salvador:

Former president of El Salvador Mauricio Funes is now a Nicaraguan citizen.  Funes, who is wanted in El Salvador on corruption charges, has been in exile in Nicaragua and was granted political asylum there.    Becoming a Nicaraguan citizen gives him more protection because the Nicaraguan constitution prohibits extradition of Nicaraguan nationals to third countries.

The National Assembly elected new magistrates to the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal.   The new magistrates will oversee the 2021 national elections for mayors and deputies in the National Assembly.   Although magistrates are supposed to be non-partisan, observers noted numerous party links among the new magistrates who were chosen following back room discussions among the country's major political parties.

El Salvador completed an international bond offering of slightly more than $1 billion.  The proceeds will retire $800 million in deb…

The trap of teen pregnancy in El Salvador

A prime cause for women to face lives in poverty was highlighted by Al Jazeera in an article titled The 'vicious cycle' driving teen pregnancy in El Salvador.   The article is a lengthy overview of how pregnancy at a young age, whether caused by lack of sexual education, lack of access to contraceptives, abuse or rape, traps young women in a cycle of poverty.   The scope of the problem: Adolescents comprise one in three pregnancies in El Salvador. For girls who do become pregnant, dropping out of school is one of their only options.  "In many cases, school principals say, 'We don't want them here. It will motivate other children to become pregnant,'" said Erika Guevara, a Ciudad Mujer Programmes Coordinator.  According to the United Nations, 60 percent of young girls in El Salvador who become pregnant between the ages of 10 and 17 had already dropped out of school before becoming pregnant. Of those who were in school when they got pregnant, the majority …

Sowing life through tree planting

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Mexico promised the US that it would take steps to reduce the flow of migrants from Central America arriving at the southern border of the US. One way Mexico proposes to do that is by funding a program in the Northern Triangle countries to reforest rural areas and generate employment.     

The Associated Press described the recent inauguration of the project in El Salvador:
Mexico is bringing to El Salvador a tree-planting program that aims to support rural residents and ease economic pressures driving thousands of people to leave for the United States. The program known as “Sowing Life” offers farmers $250 a month to plant fruit or timber trees, and whatever they harvest belongs to them. Mexico is donating $31 million to fund the plan in El Salvador, and authorities say it should create 20,000 jobs.  The program is a smaller version of a much larger reforestation plan the Mexican government has begun implementing in southern Mexico.   In addition to El Salvador, Mexico also plans to p…

The El Mozote case returns to the courtroom

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The case of the 1981 massacre of children, the elderly and others at El Mozote and surrounding communities returned to the courtroom in San Francisco Gotera, El Salvador last week.  There a judge is hearing a criminal case against generals and other military commanders for their responsibility for the massacre which killed almost 1000 civilians, more than half of whom were children.  The increasingly elderly victims and the increasingly elderly defendants were in court to hear the new charges facing the retired officers. 

The judge overseeing the case in in San Francisco Gotera, Jorge Alberto Guzmán, indicated that after his review of the evidence produced so far in the case, he was adding to the criminal charges to include forced disappearances, forced displacement and torture.

The judge also added another defendant to the case: ex-colonel Gabriel Contreras, who was chief of operations for the air force at the time of the massacre.  With the addition of Contreras, there are a total …

Bukele wants El Salvador treated differently from its neighbors

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Tomorrow president Nayib Bukele will meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in El Salvador.  Since his election in early February, Nayib Bukele has been openly courting the United States.  With a message that El Salvador wants a close partnership with the US, Bukele has made multiple trips to Washington, has established a close relationship with US Ambassador Jean Manes, and refuses to criticize any of the anti-immigrant polices of president Donald Trump.

Now Bukele is urging the US to stop viewing the Northern Triangle countries as a monolith and to give El Salvador the better treatment Bukele believes his country deserves.  From AP News:
El Salvador’s new president said his country is trying to reduce irregular migration and fight crime and drug trafficking, and deserves to be treated differently than nearby countries.  In remarks late Monday, Nayib Bukele called on Washington not to lump his country in with Honduras and Guatemala, the other two nations that make up Central Ame…