Animated life of Saint Oscar Romero

The audio visual department at the University of Central America (UCA) has produced a three part animated video series about the life of Saint Oscar Romero with subtitles in English. Intended for children, but adults will appreciate it too.

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Anniversary of La Matanza

This is the 88th anniversary of "La Matanza" -- The Massacre. Following a failed uprising of campesinos in 1932 led by Farabundo Martí, the armed forces of the Salvadoran government under General Maximiliano Martinez slaughtered tens of thousands in reprisal. The memory of that event continues to shape the views of right and left in El Salvador today.
This US Library of Congress article tells the story:

Between 1928 and 1931, the coffee export price had dropped by 54 percent. The wages paid agricultural workers were cut by an equal or greater extent. Food supplies, dependent on imports because of the crowding out of subsistence cultivation by coffee production, likewise fell sharply. Privation among the rural labor force, long a tolerated fact of life, sank to previously unknown depths. Desperate campesinos began to listen more attentively to the exhortations of radicals such as Agustin Farabundo Martí.  [In 1932, Martí was one of the leaders of a] rural insurrection that ha…

The dramatic drop in El Salvador's homicide rate and possible causes

This article originally appeared on the website of InsightCrime under the title Are El Salvador’s Gangs Behind Historic Murder Drop?
By Alex Papadovassilakis

El Salvador ended 2019 with its lowest murder rate in years. But though the government has taken credit for the drop, there are signs that a conscious gang decision to lower violence, or even some kind of agreement between gangs and the state, may be driving down homicides.

The Central American nation, considered one of the world’s most violent countries, finished the year with approximately 28.7 percent fewer homicides than in 2018, according to official data published in Univision.

According to the figures, El Salvador recorded 2,383 homicides in 2019 — 963 fewer than the previous year, which registered 3,346 murders.

That equates to an average rate of seven homicides per day, down from nine in 2018, 11 in 2017, and 18 in 2015, the year in which El Salvador became the bloodiest nation in the western hemisphere.

The radical drop-of…

What's that smell? It's the water.

In many municipalities in the department of San Salvador, the drinking water coming out of faucets in recent days has been brown with a foul odor.  Affected communities include parts of Apopa, Ilopango, Soyapango and Santa  Tecla among others.

These communities around San Salvador receive their drinking water from the Las Pavas water purification plant which draws from the Lempa River and is operated by the Salvadoran water authority, ANDA.  The government says the problem relates to an unexpected algae growth in the Lempa. 

Today the government rolled out a plan to supply drinking water to affected communities.   Cartons and cartons of bottled water were loaded onto trucks which headed out into the affected areas.  The effort was accompanied by a major publicity campaign, with more than a dozen government ministries tweeting out messages, with countless photos of public officials carrying cartons of bottled water, and lines of trucks heading out of the convention center on routes t…

Nepotism and patronage in Salvadoran government

One of El Salvador's large periodicals, El Diario de Hoy (EDH) has been publishing a series of articles about nepotism in the country's Legislative Assembly.  EDH reports that "The Legislative Assembly appears to be the ideal place to get a job for friends and for the members of the political party."    Their reporting found that 1239 patronage job positions were under the control of the policial parties in the Legislative Assembly, more than the total of non-partisan jobs.

And many of these patronage jobs in the Legislative Assembly go to family members of the deputies: There are cases of parents who have one, two or more children working in different dependencies of the Assembly. The most representative case is that of the wife of a deputy who has three brothers (a man and two women), a brother-in-law, a nephew, a daughter-in-law and the brother of one of his brothers-in-law on whose salaries the State disburses $ 16,300 per month. Their salaries range between $ 1,…

CICIES -- what it really is

During the presidential election campaign of Nayib Bukele, the fight against corruption was one of his major themes.    He used the slogan "there is enough money when nobody steals," and promised the creation of a Commission against Corruption and Impunity in El Salvador ("CICIES" for its initials in Spanish).   The acronym CICIES was intentionally similar to CICIG, the anti-corruption commission in Guatemala backed by the United Nations which exposed and prosecuted corruption of powerful leaders in the country.
Seven months into the Bukele presidency, there is an entity called CICIES, and we are able to better understand what this organization will do and what will be its limitations.  CICIES is the creation of agreements executed between the Organization of American States (OAS) and El Salvador.  A key document was signed in December between the OAS and the office of attorney general (FGR) Raúl Melara, to describe the role of CICIES along with agreements with ot…

Optimism lodged in a president

For many years I have followed the public opinion polls conducted by the University Institute of Public Opinion (IUDOP) at the University of Central America.   The polls touch many aspects of how Salvadorans feel about their country, its leaders, and its institutions.   Throughout almost all of that time, Salvadorans have not felt good about the direction their country was headed, except during brief honeymoon periods following the elections of Tony Saca (ARENA) and Mauricio Funes (FMLN)(Saca has now been convicted of, and Funes accused, of looting millions from the country).

The most recent IUDOP polling results show a dramatic turnaround in those sentiments.  In 2017, 48.7% of Salvadorans believed conditions in the country were worsening and only 7.6% believed they were getting better. Entering 2020, however, 65.9% of Salvadorans believe the country is improving and only 5.4% believe things are getting worse.

One part of this change in attitude is a changing perception of the securi…