Showing posts from February, 2011

A college degree and no job

The always insightful blog at Voices From El Salvador has a recent post about unemployment in El Salvador. The post describes some recent news articles where business complains that there are not enough qualified workers in El Salvador to fill their positions: [Marco Penado of Manpower El Salvador] says students are not graduating with the skills and experience that human resource managers are looking for, claiming that university students are more interested in the humanities rather than engineering or other technical skills. He also believes that too few Salvadorans speak English, and that in a globalized world defined by trade agreements, corporations that operate in El Salvador require employees that speak English. There are plenty of people looking for work, but there is a mismatch between their skills and the skills employers are looking for. Employers want universities to redesign their curriculum to line up more closely with the needs of corporations. But as the Voices pos

Environmental perils spur organization

As regular readers of this blog know, climate change and other environmental challenges regularly confront El Salvador. Those challenges have spawned a growing network of grass roots environmental organizations. A recent article titled Climate: Putting people over money  from Al Jazeera English interviews the participants in this growing movement: A 2007 climate change study conducted by El Salvador's National Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources focused on the Lower Lempa River and Bay of Jiquilisco areas of the central Pacific coast. The study found that this area can expect more of what it is already experiencing: increasing minimum and maximum temperatures, a shift in observed seasons, more frequent observations of extremely wet and extremely dry years, and intensified extreme event activity, including tropical storms and hurricanes. Against the backdrop of these dire predictions, the people are, however, forming a movement that is learning to protect and

An intro to Salvadoran food

Food blogger Sasha Martin has spent the past week writing about and cooking the food of El Salvador.  Here's how she introduced the topic: Do you like colorful birds? What about ruins – ancient, gothic, and colonial? Step right this way. Meet El Salvador, a tiny country freckled with mighty volcanoes, thickly coated by lush tropics, and so much more. In this steamy dreamland, I discovered a theme: corn. You can read Sasha's week of posts on Salvadoran food, including recipes, at this link .  Yum.

FMLN now has leadership of National Assembly

As of February 1, the presidency of the National Assembly is held for the first time by a member of the FMLN. Sigfrido Reyes, an FMLN legislator became the new head of the country's lawmaking body. Although the FMLN has held a plurality of seats in the National Assembly several times since the end of the civil war, it was the split of several right wing ARENA deputies to form the GANA party, which led to Reyes assuming his new position. The development and the reaction of the Salvadoran blogosphere are well described in a post by Omar Nieto on Global Voices . Some comment on the historic nature of another branch of government now being held by the FMLN. Others caution that the media and right wing are now poised to blame all problems of the country on the fact that the FMLN controls the presidency and the National Assembly. Sigfrido Reyes may have further political ambitions in Salvadoran presidential politics, but the National Assembly will need to deliver results for the

The scarce bean

Two news stories from the past week in the paper El Mundo highlight El Salvador's problem of food insecurity.   The first was a  story about the price of beans .   In the past year, the price of a pound of red beans has increased 138% from $0.52 to $1.24 per pound.   The price increase reflected the significant destruction of the bean crop by the damaging rains in 2010.  The story noted that the price of corn also rose last year. The second was the report that the Salvadoran government will import approximately 9 million pounds of beans from China.  The purchase will cost around $5 million, and will help alleviate the scarcity of beans for the Salvadoran markets.  According to the story, Salvadoran officials say the Chinese bean is not the same as beans from Nicaragua, but they tested it, and it's a "buen frijol."

Obama to visit El Salvador March 22-23

Funes March 2010 visit to White House Barack Obama will visit El Salvador on March 22-23 as part of a three country tour of Latin America. The visit was announced during Obama's State of the Union address to Congress: This March, I will travel to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to forge new alliances across the Americas. Around the globe, we're standing with those who take responsibility -- helping farmers grow more food, supporting doctors who care for the sick, and combating the corruption that can rot a society and rob people of opportunity. In confirming the March dates for the US president's visit, Salvadoran head-of-state Mauricio Funes indicated that the fight against poverty would be a central theme of his discussions with Obama.  According to the web site of the Salvadoran president : On the issue of poverty, President Funes hopes to advance the administration of the Bridge Initiative which seeks to use remittance flows as an asset to finance infrastructur

Growth of evangelical Christianity in El Salvador

In an article this week , The Economist magazine writes about the growth of evangelical Christianity at the expense of the Catholic church in El Salvador: More recently, the Catholic church’s conservatism has shrunk its flock. Edgar López Bertrand , the founder of the Friends of Israel , says he could not become a Catholic priest because his parents were divorced. Now, the crowd outside his church includes teenage couples and not a few miniskirts. (Should relationship problems arise, the church offers a book called “Help! I’m married”.) The gospel of prosperity, recklessly preached by some evangelical outfits, goes down well in poor countries: Costa Rica and Panama, twice as rich as their neighbours, remain strongly Catholic. Proximity to America has spurred the churches’ growth. “Everything we know comes from the United States,” says Edgar López Bertrand Jr, who runs Friends of Israel with his father. Media savvy is one useful import: his church broadcasts on television and radi

An audio visit to a Salvadoran coffee plantation

Chris Hallberg is from the Milwaukee area, and he recently narrated an audio visit to a coffee plantation west of San Salvador.   You can listen here to the story which aired on public radio recently.

Five years under DR-CAFTA

The fifth anniversary of the effective date of the DR-CAFTA trade agreement is approaching in March. We can expect to see various writers trying to assess the impact of five years under this treaty and whether it was a good deal for El Salvador. I'll try to provide ways to think about DR-CAFTA's impact in posts over the next month. An article at by Leonard Morin titled El Salvador - Free Trade's Dubious Blessings provides an assessment from the left, while providing space to acknowledge the viewpoints of supporters of DR-CAFTA. It's a good read to get you started on thinking about the impact of the trade pact. Here is an excerpt from one of the figures interviewed for the article: According to Gilberto García of the Center for Labor Studies and Support (Centro de Estudios y Apoyo Laboral, CEAL), “the Salvadoran and US authorities told us in 2003, 2004, and 2005 that the FTA [Free Trade Agreement] was going to be the solution, that the FTA was g

Salvadorans' view of the utility of democracy

A poll released by El Faro suggests that Salvadorans could abandon their democracy if they thought it would improve their daily lives: In a country with a history of military dictatorship and a democracy refounded just 19 years ago, almost half of people are willing to support the military overthrow of a democratic government if it helped solve their problems Only one seventh of Salvadorans value democracy as the system of government preferred to any other, while nearly half say they would be willing to support a military coup if the country continues without resolving its economic problems and public safety issues. These are two of the findings of a nationwide survey conducted for the purpose of finding out how much Salvadorans value their democracy in relation to the needs of the population. The information was gathered by the Analitika Research and Marketing Company between November 8 and 13 last year, through 1200 interviews with a margin of error of + /-  2.8 points. The r