Posts

Hospital El Salvador

Image
One of the accomplishments touted most often by the government of Nayib Bukele is the construction of a hospital dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients, "Hospital El Salvador."   The hospital was constructed by converting facilities at the CIFCO convention center in San Salvador and a promised third phase still under construction across the street.   The official twitter account for the Hospital @HospitalSV describes itself as "The largest and most modern hospital in Latin America. For the people, always the best."   This feed, along with government health ministries and the president's office, regularly broadcasts pictures like these of modern facilities and happy recovered patients: From @HospitalSV tweet From @HospitalSV tweet The operations of the hospital were described for the world in a comment piece in The Lancet titled  Hospital El Salvador: a novel paradigm of intensive care in response to COVID-19 in central America , written by hospital staff docto

20th anniversary of killer quake and its legacy in the Salvadoran presidency

Image
 Today is the twentieth anniversary of the first of two devastating earthquakes which hit El Salvador in 2001.  That quake registered 7.6 on the Richter scale.  Exactly one month later, on February 13, another earthquake would cause more damage.  Between those two, the  damage was enormous : 1,259 deaths, 9,000 injuries and 1.6 million homeless victims in a country with a population of approximately six million. 150,000 homes were destroyed; 185,000 were damaged. Highways and roads were heavily damaged ). Eight hospitals and 113 of 361 health facilities were severely damaged representing 55 percent of the country’s capacity to deliver health services. Nearly 35 percent of all schools were affected (1,681 out of 4,820). This  BBC story  from January 13, 2001 describes the aftermath of that first earthquake ten years ago.   Worst hit was the neighborhood of Las Colinas, close to San Salvador, where a hillside gave way, burying the homes below it and killing more than 585. Las Colinas fol

Top Stories of 2020 from El Salvador

Image
Here is my annual list of the top stories from the past year in El Salvador.  Perhaps not surprisingly, president Nayib Bukele ends up being mentioned in all but one of the stories as he dominates the political landscape and the national conversation.  This list is not in order of importance.   Bukele and soldiers march into Legislative Assembly   At the beginning of February, president Nayib Bukele was frustrated that the Legislative Assembly had not approved a loan request to fund various military and public security items. He insisted that the legislature come into session to vote on his request on Sunday, February 9.  When the bulk of legislators did not respond to his call, after deploying security forces across the capital, Bukele marched into the chamber of the Legislative Assembly, escorted by armed troops in combat gear.   He sat himself in the chair of the president of the Assembly and proceeded to pray, leaving several minutes later.  He then spoke to supporters outside w

The El Mozote massacre, 39 years later

Image
A few of the hundreds of small children who were victims at El Mozot e Thirty nine years ago, Salvadoran troops commenced a scorched earth operation in the remote, rural community of El Mozote and surrounding hamlets in the department of Morazan in northeast El Salvador.  Over the next few days, with savage brutality, they would slaughter almost 1000 civilians, including more than 400 children under the age of 12, in the worst single massacre in the history of Latin America.   As the 39th anniversary of the El Mozote massacre passes this week, there are prospects that year 40 might be the year that judgment is rendered in a Salvadoran court against the former high military command for its responsibility for this crime against humanity.  Since El Salvador's Supreme Judicial Court overturned an amnesty law in 2016,  Judge Jorge Guzmán has been pushing forward in his courtroom in San Francisco Gotera with a criminal prosecution of those officers involved. If a trial reaches resolution

COVID-19 in El Salvador: an end-of-year second wave of cases?

Image
A little less than nine months ago, the novel coronavirus arrived in El Salvador as part of the pandemic’s worldwide inexorable spread.   The country had a wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths which threatened to overwhelm its healthcare system during June and July before subsiding after the first week in August.   As the year nears an end and the country approaches Christmas parties and family gatherings, the number of cases is again beginning to gradually increase across the country.    According to the official statistics on the El Salvador’s COVID-19 website at covid19.gob.sv , there have been 40,551 confirmed cases of the virus in the country and 1168 persons have perished from the disease.  There are 2432 active cases as of today.   These statistics only include those cases and deaths which have been confirmed by a test administered by the government.  There are 4189 suspected active cases (persons with symptoms which have not been confirmed with a test). For a detail

40 years ago: 4 churchwomen committed to the poor are murdered in El Salvador

Image
Wednesday, December 2 marks the 40th anniversary of the cold-blooded rape and murder of 4 US churchwomen in El Salvador by a military death squad.   It was 1980, a year which saw the assassinations of archbishop Oscar Romero and many other lay and religious workers engaged in the struggle for a just society in the opening bloody years of El Salvador's civil war.  Sisters Dorothy Kazel, Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, and lay missioner Jean Donovan were slaughtered for their commitment to El Salvador's poorest citizens.  An article just published on Znet titled  Martyred Missionaries: The Lives and Legacies of Maura Clarke, Jean Donovan, Ita Ford, and Dorothy Kazel offers a good refresher on the lives of these remarkable women and why the Salvadoran military regime sought to eliminate them.  The crime itself, like the murder of Oscar Romero, the Jesuit priests, the children of El Mozote and so many others remains unpunished and wrapped in impunity in El Salvador. Although the US fou

Bukele tweets a paid advertisement as real news coverage

Image
 This is a story about how the Bukele government polishes its image through branding and social media.   What appears as a news story about the success of the government in handling the pandemic, is actually just a paid advertisement with material from a branding consultant used by this media-conscious administration. On November 28, Nayib Bukele tweeted: " The county in the region which best dealt with the pandemic " This presidential tweet links to an apparent news article with no by-line which appeared on the website of " Infobae ," an Argentine media company.  The article opens: Reopening to tourism: how El Salvador is preparing, the country that best dealt with the pandemic in the region: The Central American country achieved a world seal as a safe destination in the new normal. In addition, the City Nation Place forum evaluated it as the country with the best attention to the pandemic in Latin America Bukele also featured this article on his Facebook page , g