Showing posts from January, 2015

D'Aubuisson, Oscar Romero and the political season

It was inevitable that the recent progress towards the beatification of slain archbishop Oscar Romero by the Roman Catholic church would become embroiled in politics as El Salvador approaches the March 1 national elections.   I say it was inevitable, because one of the main political parties, ARENA, was founded by Roberto D'Aubuisson , the man identified as the intellectual author of the assassination,   The politics of Romero began with the announcement of outgoing San Salvador mayor Norman Quijano, that he would rename a street in the capital city after D'Aubuisson.   This generated an outcry of protest, leading some to speculate that Quijano had taken the step to spite the party who had pushed him out of the candidacy to return as mayor.   The FMLN denounced the plan and attempted to link it to the party leadership. Quijano was replaced as an ARENA candidate by Edwin Zamora.  Zamora has proposed that if elected mayor of San Salvador, he would erect a monument to Osc

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon offers words for El Salvador

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, was in El Salvador today for the commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the 1992 Peace Accords which ended El Salvador's bloody civil war. In a speech to El Salvador's National Assembly Ban offered these thoughts : Revive a new spirit of unity and solidarity.  Work to deepen reconciliation within Salvadoran society.  Fully realize the rights to truth, justice and the reparation of victims of gross violations of human rights in line with international commitments.    In a larger sense, the best way to ensure that no one is left behind is by bringing in your country’s many voices into the decision making process -- including women, indigenous peoples and young people.  About half of all Salvadorans were born after the 1992 peace agreement.  Your large youth population can be an engine for transformation.    They need an inclusive economy that fosters investment, entrepreneurship, universal so

Oscar Romero now seen by Vatican as a martyr

Vatican theologians are widely reported to have determined that slain archbishop Oscar Romero meets the Roman Catholic church's definition of a martyr: Slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero has moved one step closer to beatification.  Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, reported Friday that a committee of theologians had confirmed that Romero died as a martyr. The designation means he can be beatified without having a miracle attributed to his intercession. A miracle is needed, however, for him to be made a saint.  Romero was gunned down by a right-wing death squad in 1980 while celebrating Mass. He had spoken out against repression by the Salvadoran army at the beginning of the country’s 1980-1992 civil war between the right-wing government and leftist rebels. A commission of cardinals and bishops must now sign off on the martyrdom designation and pass it on to Pope Francis for final approval. If approved, the long-awaited beatification could tak

Prudencia Ayala

It is a shortcoming of this blog that I have never previously written of Prudencia Ayala.   Born in 1885 in the department of Sonsonate, El Salvador, to a humble family with indigenous roots, Ayala rose from being a seamstress to being the country's first female candidate for president. She was a poet, an essayist and a feminist.    Her writings in the early decades of the 20th century supported unions and women's rights.   She criticized the dictators of Central America and foreign (US) military intervention in the region.   Her activism led to her arrests and imprisonment for short periods in both Guatemala and El Salvador. In the 1920s she founded the periodical  Redención Femenina ( Feminine Redemption ) where she wrote in support of women's rights. In 1930, Prudencia Ayala put herself forward as a candidate for president of El Salvador, at a time when women were not even allowed to vote in the country.   Her campaign platform included support for unions, in

The Salvadoran electorate

El Salvador is in the middle of election campaign season as the country heads towards a March 1 election day where the country will elect deputies to the National Assembly, mayors for every municipality, and representatives to the Central American parliament. The country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has compiled the roster of citizens eligible to vote in the upcoming election and provided a statistical picture of the electorate. There are a total of 5,096,035 voters on the roll for the March 1, 2015 election.   52.7% of those voters are female. It is a young electorate --  a majority are under 40 years old and 30% are less than 30, and 766,000 voters were born after El Salvador's civil war ended in 1992. 28% of the voters are located in the department of San Salvador with the remainder spread over the country's 13 other departments. There are 184,363 persons on the election roles who are living outside of the country.   The 2014 presidential election was th

US extends TPS

This week the US announced that it would extend yet again Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans in the US without proper documents at the time of the 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador.  Salvadoran nationals are eligible for this status if they have been continually in the US since February 13, 2001, have committed no crimes and have registered during each preceding 12 month period. Persons registered under TPS are not subject to being deported back to El Salvador, even if their original arrival in the US was illegal. TPS includes work authorization from the federal government allowing TPS enrollees to be legally employed.  There are approximately 215,000 Salvadorans in the US on TPS.    TPS was originally granted to suspend deportations to El Salvador on humanitarian grounds after the 2001 earthquakes.   TPS has been extended every 18 months thereafter.   Since TPS only applies to Salvadorans in the US as of February 12, 2001, each person on TPS has lawfully lived in the US for

Returning to El Salvador as a deportee

IPS looks today at what awaits the thousands of Salvadorans who each month are deported back to their home country from the United States or Mexico, in an article by Edgardo Ayala titled  From the American Dream to the Nightmare of Deportation : At least two flights from the United States and three buses from Mexico bring back around 150 deportees every day. The authorities are alarmed by the sheer numbers. In the first 11 months of 2014, a total of 47,943 deportees reached the immigration office – 43 percent more than in the same period in 2013.  The migration authorities project a total of 50,000 deportees for 2014 – a heavy burden for this impoverished Central American country of 6.2 million people, where unemployment stands at six percent and 65 percent of those who work do so in the informal sector of the economy.  The army of returning migrants does not have government support programmes to help with their reinsertion in the labour market, deportees and representatives of

Sánchez Cerén speaks on public security

Salvadoran president Salvador Sánchez Cerén gave a press conference today as he meet with his security cabinet to talk about the crime problem in the country.  The year 2014 closed with 3912 murders in El Salvador, an increase of 57% over 2013.   Police also reported that almost 1500 gang members were counted among those murder victims. The president acknowledged the increasing level of homicides committed by the gangs.   Despite that, Sánchez Cerén said his government would not negotiate with the gangs and was going to pursue them  to bring them to justice. He announced that his government was working on plans to combat the violence, the majority of which he blamed on the gangs fighting for control of territories where they could commit extortion or sell drugs. Sánchez Cerén acknowledged that homicides had gone down during the period of the truce, but indicated that the government would not follow such a strategy in the future because the truce had allowed the gangs to grow

Top 2014 religion stories

Here is our annual round-up of the top religion stories from the past year in El Salvador submitted by our friend Carlos Colorado.   Be sure to also read his overview on the news surrounding Oscar Romero in 2014 . Top Ten Religious Stories for 2014 If you click on the label for the topic “Religion” in Tim’s Blog on the right hand side of the screen, you will call up both institutional news relating to particular churches and stories that focus on ethical issues facing Salvadoran society. Tim himself came to El Salvador through the church: “I have been visiting El Salvador since 2001 in connection with the relationship which my church in Wisconsin has with a sister church outside of Tonacatapeque,” Tim tells us in his profile . Accordingly, this roundup on El Salvador’s top ten religious stories is not intended as a narrowing filter, but rather as a barometer of the great debates that El Salvador has been wrestling with in a given year. 2014 was no different. 1. El padre Toño A go

Top 10 stories from El Salvador in 2014

Here is my annual tally of the top 10 news stories coming out of El Salvador during the past year: Salvador Sánchez Cerén from the FMLN wins a tight presidential race .   For the first time since the end of El Salvador's civil war, the presidential election required two rounds to decide.  Former president Tony Saca captured enough votes to prevent either Salvador Sánchez Cerén from the FMLN or Norman Quijano from ARENA from winning in the first round.   In the second round, Sánchez Cerén won by only 6000 votes out of some 3 million votes cast, in a highly polarized election.   Quijano conceded only after weeks of challenges before the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and the courts. The election of Sánchez Cerén, a former guerrilla commander and member of the FMLN's traditional leadership, put in place an administration farther to the left than the prior government of Mauricio Funes.  It means the social programs put in place under Funes will continue, but also means even grea