Updating the news from El Salvador

I was on sabbatical from posting to El Salvador Perspectives for the last few weeks.   Here is a short summary of some of the recent news during that time.   I will be expanding on many of these stories in coming days.

Tony Saca's confession to massive embezzlement and money laundering.   Former president Tony Saca has confessed to embezzling and money laundering charges involving more than $300 million in public funds during his administration.  His ongoing corruption trial has revealed a wide-ranging machine to divert funds from hidden accounts controlled by the presidency to bribe journalists, enrich Saca and friends, and fund ARENA political campaigns. 

The death of Fernando Llort.   Famed Salvadoran artist Fernando Llort died on August 11 at the age of 69.   Among Llort's most famous works was the mosaic on the facade of the San Salvador cathedral, a work which was later destroyed by church authorities.  Llort was buried in La Palma, where he nourished local artisan work which spread throughout the country.

Drought continues in El Salvador.   Harvests of many foodstuffs are impacted, and the government has declared an emergency in many municipalities.

Salvadoran immigrant stories.   It seems that every day produces a new story of a Salvadoran who fled gang violence in the US only to be caught up in the zero tolerance / family separation policies of the Trump administration.

No new magistrates yet for the Supreme Judicial Court.   A month after the decision was supposed to be made, the National Assembly still has not found agreement on new members to the country's highest court.

El Salvador looks towards October canonization of Osar Romero.   Starting with a pilgrimage from San Salvador to Romero's birthplace in Ciudad Barrios, the country is preparing for the October canonization of martyred archbishop Oscar Romero in Rome.

Extraordinary measures made permanent.    El Salvador's National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to make permanent the "extraordinary measures" in place at the country's prisons.   The measures which include significant limitations on visits, harsh conditions of maximum security and cutting off telecommunications in zones around prisons had been criticized by international human rights advocates.

Surge in attacks on police in August.   Six police officers have been murdered in the first 15 days of August, making a total of 14 officers murdered in 2018.  Violence continues at levels similar to 2017.   Some believe the attacks on police are the gangs' response to the government move to continue the extraordinary measures against gang members in prison.

Presidential campaigns touring the country.  With less than six months to go before presidential elections in February, candidates from the major parties were actively on the campaign trail.