Showing posts from May, 2012

State Department Human Rights Report on El Salvador

The US State Department issued its report on Human Rights Practices in El Salvador for 2011 this week. This is the Executive Summary: El Salvador is a constitutional multiparty republic. In March 2009 voters elected Carlos Mauricio Funes Cartagena of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) as president for a five-year term in generally free and fair elections. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.  The principal human rights problems were widespread corruption, particularly in the judicial system; weaknesses in the judiciary and the security forces that led to a high level of impunity; and violence and discrimination against women.  Other human rights problems included isolated unlawful killings by security forces; lengthy pretrial detention; harsh, overcrowded, and dangerously substandard prison conditions; child abuse and child prostitution; trafficking in persons; violence and discrimination against sexual minorities; child labor; and inadequate enfo

Salvadorans' view of their country

Salvadorans have not felt good about the general situation in their country for a long while.   For as long as I have been writing about public opinion polls in this blog, the majority of Salvadorans have told pollsters that the country is in a bad way and getting worse.   This week's La Prensa Grafica  poll results  are more of the same. 69.3% of those polled said the general state of the country was bad, while only 13.6% said it was good.  This was actually a slight improvement over LPG's last poll in February. The reported gang truce has led to a perception among those polled that the level of homicides has gone down and that the security situation in the country has somewhat improved.  An increasing number of people (35.6%) say the economy is the biggest problem facing the country. Although 63.9% of the population believes the country is on the wrong course, 65% approve of the job the president Mauricio Funes is doing.   Funes completes his third year in office thi

Law protects migrants and families

An article from IPS  today describes a recently enacted Salvadoran law for the benefit of migrants.  The Special Act for the Protection and Development of Salvadoran Migrants and Their Families was enacted in March 2011.   IPS describes the law: Article 1 of the act states that public policies are to be designed for protection and support of migrants and their families, in coordination with the state and civil society.  The act establishes a Migration and Development Programme aimed at creating productive initiatives for migrants' relatives who remain in El Salvador, and for people deported from the United States, who amounted to some 19,000 people in 2011, about the same as in previous years according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "Wherever there are Salvadoran citizens, we want their human rights to be protected by the state," lawmaker Karina Sosa of the left-wing governing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), who was on the legis

First Lady of El Salvador Vanda Pignato

Earlier this month, USAID published an interview with El Salvador's First Lady, Vanda Pignato , who also holds the position Secretary of Social Inclusion. Much of her work has focused on improving the lot of women in her country. Her signature project has been " Ciudad Mujer " which offers women one-stop access to healthcare, education, job training, childcare, physical and sexual abuse treatment, and other services. It aims to empower women by teaching them about their rights and providing a safe space where they can receive support and assistance. Here is the first part of the interview: Q.  First Lady, I know you are very passionate about women’s rights. How are you raising the profile of this issue in El Salvador? A.  As Secretary for Social Inclusion, one of the main goals during my mandate is to promote public policies based on a human rights approach to ensure the realization, respect and guaranty of rights of historically excluded populations. Women make

FMLN leadership chooses Sánchez Cerén for 2014

This week El Faro   reports on a meeting of FMLN top leadership  where a vote was taken to designate Salvador Sánchez Cerén as the party's candidate for president in 2014.   The 50 top leaders of the party came together on April 10 to review the party's results in the March elections.   But beyond that, according to El Faro 's sources, they reviewed possible presidential candidates and decided on Sánchez Cerén.   The article reports that all present at the meeting felt that the election of Mauricio Funes had not really brought the party into power.   The FMLN does not feel like the party of the government.   So the party elite wants to make sure that the next presidential candidate will wear the red colors of the party  (and not the white shirt which Funes wore to distinguish himself from the party). With that as a goal, the party leaders looked for who best represents the tradition of the FMLN.   That person they felt is "Leonel", the nom de guerre of Sánchez

The fragile truce

This chart illustated an article in the Economist titled El Salvador's Gangs .  The article describes the gang truce which has continued since mid-March through today: But now quiet reigns in the country’s roughest districts. In March the two main gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha and the Mara 18, declared a truce, cutting the murder rate by two-thirds overnight (see chart). Police say May has been even calmer. The rate is now close to that of fairly stable Brazil.  The mobs have since made further concessions. On May 2nd they promised not to recruit in schools. Five days later inmates at La Esperanza, an overcrowded prison, vowed to stop extorting people using jail phones. “I want to ask forgiveness from society and those who gave us the chance to change,” said Dionisio Arístides, the Salvatrucha leader. “We’re human beings who aren’t just here to do evil.” Not everyone believes that. The Economist article , which is worth a read, goes on to offer the cautionary tale of Beli

Supreme Court denies extradition request in Jesuit case

El Salvador's supreme judicial court has refused the request of Spain for the extradition of 13 former military officers in the case of the 1989 murder of the Jesuits .   The result is not very surprising, but does contribute to the ongoing impunity for human rights violations which occurred during El Salvador's civil war.   The court ruled that prior to the year 2000, Salvadoran law prohibited the extradition of its citizens.   Since the murders occurred in 1989, the court decided that it had to apply the ban on extradition which existed at that time. There is still no progress on attempts to repeal the amnesty law which was passed at the conclusion of the civil war.   That law serves as the justification for the Salvadoran government not to bring those responsible for civil war human rights violations to justice in El Salvador's own courts.