Showing posts from April, 2011

Deportation trial focuses on torture practiced during Salvadoran civil war

The story of torture and other human rights abuses committed by Salvadoran armed forces during that country's bloody civil war is again being recounted in a Florida courtroom.  This time the site is an immigration court where the US is presenting evidence as it seeks to deport General Eugenio Vides Casanova, former head of the Salvadoran National Guard and former Defense Minister.   An article in  The Guardian  describes the proceeding: He was honoured by Ronald Reagan as a cold war ally and even retired to Florida, but Eugenio Vides Casanova's US welcome has evaporated as he faces deportation to El Salvador over torture accusations. Vides, a former general and defence minister during one of central America's most vicious civil wars, was due to be charged on Monday in a Florida immigration court with grave crimes and should be sent home to face justice. The case, which marks a departure in US policy, was welcomed as evidence that the Obama administration was dealing

Multi-national business and poverty reduction

You don't often expect to see beverage company Coca-Cola, bottler SAB Miller, and the poverty and environment activists at Oxfam America collaborating. But the three organizations jointly issued a report this week titled Exploring the links between international business and poverty reduction — The Coca-Cola/SABMiller value chain impacts in Zambia and El Salvador . The report looks at the overall societal impact in El Salvador and Zambia of the operations and sales of Coca-Cola and of SAB/Miller which bottles Coke products. For these two companies, who depend on product sales to consumers, helping lift the economic prospects of local economies makes it possible for more consumers to purchase Coke products. (I'm not commenting on whether anyone needs to drink more Coke). The report issued by Oxfam and the two multi-national corporations contains the following statement: For overall growth to contribute toward poverty alleviation, it must be converted into incomes for the

Salvadoran wins international environmental activism prize

Francisco Pineda, a leader in the anti-mining movement in Cabañas, was named yesterday one of the 2011 recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize . The Goldman Prize annually honors grassroots environmental heroes from six continents. The Prize "recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk." Each winner receives a cash award of $150,000 Francisco Pineda is a farmer with a degree in sustainable agriculture and is the founder and president of the Environmental Committee of Cabañas, a community volunteer association. In the process of organizing his community against a waste dump that would have polluted local water supplies, he taught himself about water ecology and became an environmental leader in his region. Since 2004, Pineda's environmental organizing has included opposition to the gold mining planned by Pacific Rim. Pineda and his colleagues have been educating the peop

El Salvador from the Inside

I don't know how I had missed this blog before, but well worth a visit is the blog El Salvador from the Inside which has the subtitle "stories about a resilient people." Written by a "gringa in El Salvador," the blog captures great scenes of ordinary life in El Salvador. Recent posts have included tales of wandering street vendors, washing in a pila, and an old gentleman and his birds.

El Salvador looks to develop local cash crops

The local Salvadoran market could support farmers who grow cash crops like avocados, tomatoes and plantains. That's the conclusion of the Salvadoran government working with the US Millennium Challenge Corp. to develop the economy of the northern zones of the country. Blogger Colleen O'Brien describes the market which the government hopes to tap: Five products were identified as the most economically important in the region: Hass avocados, pineapples, tomatoes, plantains, and cacao. Hass avocados are a variety developed in the U.S. using a strain from Guatemala, and now dominate the worldwide market. El Salvador consumes about 12 thousand tons each year, but only produces a little over 2 thousand tons. Pineapples are the second most cultivated crop in the world after bananas; El Salvador imports 12 thousand tons and produces 8 thousand tons. Tomatoes are another economically important crop; approximately 70 thousand tons are imported to satisfy the local needs - only 28 t

Radicals in El Salvador

Although the left-wing FMLN heads the National Assembly, and its candidate Mauricio Funes became president in 2009, there are a vocal group of young radicals in El Salvador who advocate for more revolutionary change.  Their anger focuses on the role of the US in Salvadoran affairs and the military and police tactics of their government fighting a tremendous crime problem. An article titled  Dispatch From El Salvador: Obama’s Drug War Feels Eerily Familiar  looks at the discontent of the far-left in the country: Watching this army of cell phone-wielding protesters through the smoke of rickety buses, it feels eerily like 1980, the year El Salvador’s civil war started, after U.S.-trained death squads murdered Monsenor Oscar Arnulfo Romero—the country’s ultimate symbol of peace, and of the consequences of militarization. Then, the militarization of society was driven by political ideologies; today, it is driven by the purported war on drugs. In both cases, the driving force has been Was

El Faro -- El Salvador's quality online news source

My most trusted source of information about politics and the news of El Salvador is the online periodical El Faro . Carlos Dada, founder of El Faro, recently described the work of El Faro in ReVista , the Harvard review of Latin America. He explained the role of independent media like El Faro: It is often said that there is no democracy without independent media; but the opposite is also true: there are no independent media without a democracy. Today, the democratic processes of the Central American countries are at risk. The levels of violence, impunity and victimization are alarmingly high, and citizens demonstrate, in poll after poll, less hope and more inclination to support other types of regimes if they can guarantee safety and a decent living. Democracy, they say, has not been able to satisfy those basic needs. The problem, of course, is that democratic institutions have not been able to deliver a better life for citizens. Even though we have registered great achievements si

El Salvador tallies the victims on the route through Mexico

El Salvador's foreign ministry released a report this week detailing the violence against Salvadoran migrants travelling through Mexico on their way to the United States. The press conference given by the government was reported in the Latin American Herald Tribune : SAN SALVADOR – At least 21 Salvadoran migrants were killed last year in Mexico while trying to reach the United States, while 250 others were the victims of serious crimes or human rights abuses, El Salvador’s foreign ministry said. Deputy Minister Juan Jose Garcia said that 14 of the slain Salvadorans were among the 72 undocumented migrants massacred last August in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas by suspected members of the Los Zetas drug cartel. “The crime of kidnapping was one of the main attacks that violated the basic rights of the Salvadoran migrants. In all, the consular network (in Mexico) registered 12 collective cases of the kidnapping of migrants coming from El Salvador,” according to the fo