News round up from El Salvador

A round up of some news stories from El Salvador in the past week.  

Last opinion polls before the election.    All the major polling organizations released polls in the past week.   The results of the polls vary significantly, but the general trend shows Salvador Sanchez Ceren from the FMLN with a comfortable lead over Norman Quijano from ARENA, but not enough to win in the first round.   Who will win in the second round is anyone's guess at this point.

Record low temperatures hit parts of El Salvador.   A cold front pushed through El Salvador this week.   In Las Pilas, Chalatenango in El Salvador's northern mountains, the temperature dipped to 2.2 degrees celsius, 36 degrees Fahrenheit.      

Commemoration of 22nd anniversary of the 1992 Peace Accords.   January 16 marked 22 years since the signing of the Peace Accords which marked the end of El Salvador's bloody civil war.   In an event to mark the anniversary, current vice president Salvador Sanchez Ceren who was a guerrilla commander during the war, asked forgiveness from the Salvadoran people for the damages caused by the war.  

Remittances from abroad hit record levels.   Remittances from Salvadorans living abroad sent to their family members in El Salvador totalled $3.969 billion in 2013.    This flow of almost $4 billion represents 15.9% of the total economy of El Salvador.

El Salvador leads the Americas in rate of alcohol-related deaths.  A study in the journal Addiction reported on the number of alcohol-related deaths by country in the Americas.   El Salvador had the highest reported rate of such deaths, highlighting an under-reported problem in the country.  

El Salvador's First Lady joins the campaign trail.    El Salvador's First Lady, Vanda Pignato, is the Secretary of Social Inclusion within the government of her husband, president Mauricio Funes.   This week Funes granted Pignato a leave of absence from her governmental position to campaign for the FMLN ticket led by his vice president, Salvador Sanchez Ceren.  

Salvadorans outside the country send in their ballots.   Ballots from Salvadorans living abroad are trickling in to election authorities.   As of this week, the TSE reports that is has received 1243 ballots for the February 2 presidential election from expatriate Salvadoran citizens.

Volcano continues trembling and smoking.   Seismic vibrations and emission of gases continue at a low level at the Chaparrastique volcano in San Miguel.  Authorities cannot rule out the possibility of another eruption, and so the area continues under an orange alert.   A simulated evacuation was conducted to practice procedures in case the volcano rumbles to life again.   For the 425 families living closest to the volcano in zones of greatest risk, the government is looking for $8.9 million to relocate them to safer lands.