What Salvadoran bloggers are saying -- tourism and gold mining

Salvadoran bloggers often ponder what types of economic development can best help the country lift the overall status of its people. There is general agreement that tourism would be good for the country, but what kind of tourism? Hunnapuh explores the advantages El Salvador has from its small size -- one can go from a cool mountaintop rainforest to sunny beaches and seafood dinners in just a few hours. The biggest barrier he finds to the growth of tourism is the actual and perceived rate of violent crime in the country which repels tourists, even though the areas of high crime and gangs are fairly localized.

Salvadoran bloggers like the idea of "coffee tourism." El Visitador, discussed the possibility of tourism involving the El Salvador's coffee industry and the process of growing, harvesting and roasting El Salvador's gourmet coffees. He was commenting on a recent blog entry by award winning coffee brewer Jim Seven describing his recent visit to the coffee fincas of El Salvador. Hunnapuh agreed and described a coffee-focused restaurant on the slopes of the San Salvador volcano as an example of what is possible.

Unlike tourism where there is general support, gold-mining produces deep disagreement among Salvadoran bloggers and persons posting comments on those blogs. As the price of gold climbs, Canadian mining companies are increasingly prospecting for possible sites to mine in El Salvador. El Visitador celebrates the prospects of just one mine creating 340 jobs. Tim acknowledges the benefit of such jobs, but questions whether El Salvador can ever regulate the mining companies to prevent environmental degradation and enforce worker's rights. Hunnapuh flatly opposes expansion of gold mining in El Salvador, pointing to the dirty history of mines located in other developing countries.

Persons who are easily offended will not like the Spanish language blog of El Trompudo. A recent death threat to El Trompudo was celebrated by the blogger as a badge of honor. El Trompudo's vitriolic blog posts lambast the "grand sons-of-bitches" in places of power in El Salvador. Following the death treat, El Trompudo received dozens of comments in support and posts in solidarity from Hunnapuh among others.

El Trompudo's style contrasts sharply with the prose of blogger Meg who is a volunteer with an NGO in El Salvador. This week she describes the impact of poverty on roles of women in El Salvador. She finds that the struggles of poverty and single motherhood often push forward influential women of strong character. "These are the women who keep careful watch over every child (no matter what age) and keep the men in line and on their toes." A special Happy Mother's Day (May 10 in El Salvador) is wished to all such women.

Meg also writes about the two regular Catholic masses said on Sundays in the cathedral of San Salvador. In the formal upper church, a traditional mass of the Catholic hierarchy occurs, but each Sunday as well, there is a mass which takes place in the lower level where the tomb of assassinated archbishop Oscar Romero is located. This is the mass attended by the humble poor of San Salvador, Meg writes. Also appearing this week was a new blog dedicated to following the twists and turns of the Catholic sainthood process for El Salvador's beloved Romero.

This post also appears on Global Voices.


Pierre said…
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Pierre said…
Hi Tim,
i like your blog. I was living in El Salvador last here to manage an Hotel in el Salvador. In my opinion, this country is pretty hard to manage. Private interests (with politician interests) are too strong to developp the country. FMLN or Arena, it's mostly the same thing... Who cares about the poors ? About health system ? About communities development ? Nobody...