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Showing posts from October, 2018

Caravans

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For the last two weeks, news media coverage of Central America has focused on "caravans" of Hondurans making their way north from towards the US.   The Salvadoran media is closely following the progress of the caravan from Honduras and reporting all the threats being made by US president Donald Trump.   Now a similar small caravan has left El Salvador and another one is purportedly forming.

President Salvador Sánchez Cerén spoke about migration and the caravans on a visit to Cuba. The Salvadoran president stated that migration was a human right which ought to be respected.   He stated further that his government was "totally opposed" to Trump's vision on migration and that Salvadorans were an important part of the US economy.

On Sunday the media began airing reports of a caravan leaving El Salvador.   The group, which had been organized through Facebook posts and WhatsApp messages, left San Salvador after meeting at the Salvador del Mund…

Carlos Calleja and ARENA's past

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The National Republican Alliance ("ARENA" for its initials in Spanish) is the major right wing political party in El Salvador.   Its candidates won the presidency in El Salvador in 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004 before losing to the left wing FMLN party in 2009.  The party currently has the largest number of deputies in the National Assembly.  For the 2019 presidential elections, ARENA has nominated Carlos Calleja as its candidate for president.

ARENA's founder, ex-major Roberto D'Aubuisson, is venerated by the party.   So much so that when you visit the ARENA official party website, clicking a link for "ARENA History" delivers you to a page titled "History of Major Roberto D'Aubuisson".   His image adorns the party headquarters.  The party and D'Aubuisson are inextricably linked.

But D'Aubuisson was the author of numerous high crimes and atrocities. Multiple investigations by international bodies identified D'Aubuisson as the leader of d…

El Salvador reality by the numbers

Here are some statistics on current reality in El Salvador:

Millions more.  El Salvador's Central Reserve Bank reports that remittances have topped $4 billion through September 2018, a 9.2% growth from the year before.   More than 21% of Salvadoran households receive remittances from abroad.

Slightly less.  The US has deported 12,232 Salvadorans in 2018 as of October 19.   This is 750 fewer deportations than the same period in 2017.

More than 151,000.    The number of Salvadorans with pending deportation cases in the US immigration courts.

500 fewer.    The PNC reports that that 2018 has had 500 fewer homicides in El Salvador than in 2017.

More than 1000.   The number of traffic deaths so far in 2018 in El Salvador is 1016, which is 60 more than in 2017.

Six.   Victims who died as a result of recent flooding rains in El Salvador.  22 were injured.



Canonization of Saint Oscar Romero

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In a ceremony in Rome today, Pope Francis canonized Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, along with Pope Paul VI, and five other saints.   The event was attended by as many as 70,000 of the faithful in St. Peter's Square, and was watched by tens of thousands of Salvadorans gathered outside the Metropolitan Cathedral in San Salvador and at Divina Providencia, the chapel where Romero was assassinated.

Some video highlights:

A video of highlights of ceremony from Catholic New Service.



This video offers images of the pilgrimage and vigil outside the Metropolitan Cathedral in San Salvador where Oscar Romero is entombed leading up to the canonization.

This video shows the scenes around the chapel at Divina Providencia last night.

La Prensa Grafica also offers a collection of images and video of the celebrations in El Salvador.
There has been extensive coverage of Romero's canonization in the English language press.   A sampling:

National Public Radio.  A &…

A gang truce prosecution in El Salvador.

[This article originally appeared on the website of InsightCrime with the title El Salvador’s Jailed Gang Mediator: ‘I feel defrauded’].


Written by Steven Dudley

The former leftist guerrilla and ex-congressman Raúl Mijango is jailed and facing 20 years in prison for extortion — one of two crimes derived from his role in the gang truce in El Salvador — but don’t call him a martyr just yet.

Raúl Mijango looked exhausted. He sat slumped in a hard-shell, black plastic chair. His skin had turned a light shade of brown, and his once pronounced belly seemed to be losing air underneath his white, prison-issued T-shirt.

“I’m old,” he said after yet another day in court facing down accusations for his role in a controversial gang truce. “Only 30 percent of my kidneys works. I have severe diabetes, thyroid problems, ulcers in my stomach, and lately, because of my diabetes, I have lost 60 percent of my sight.”

Still, Mijango remained steadfast.

“I’ve always said, ‘I love this country.’ I’m just not sur…

Oscar Romero: transformed by the reality before him

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In many simplified accounts of the life of Oscar Romero, there is one central turning point event in his ministry. In these accounts, the murder of Jesuit priest Rutilio Grande in 1977 by a death squad opened the eyes of Romero to the social injustice around him. Typical of this narrative is an article by John Dear in the National Catholic Reporter in 2010. Dear writes:
Romero spent his years up until 1977 as a typical quiet, pious, conservative cleric. Indeed, as bishop, he sided with the greedy landlords, important power brokers, and violent death squads. When he became archbishop, the Jesuits at the Univeristy of Central America in San Salvador were crushed. They immediately wrote him off -- all but one, Rutilio Grande, who reached out to Romero in the weeks after his installation and urged him to learn from the poor and speak on their behalf.  Grande himself was a giant for social justice. He organized the rural poor in Aguilares, and paid for it with his life on March 12, 19…

The Romero assassination court file

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No one was ever prosecuted in El Salvador for the assassination of Oscar Romero.  A homicide case was initially opened, but the first judge was threatened and fled the country and subsequently the case proceeded only by fits and starts over the following years.
The failure to investigate and prosecute the crime was condemned by the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights, which concluded:
          119.          As has been established, in the instant case the State did not undertake an effective investigation nor did it adopt the necessary measures to bring to trial all of the persons implicated.  Nor did it act as was required to duly try the accused.  In effect, from the first procedural acts, one could note an official attitude of reluctance to proceed properly in the case of Monsignor Romero.  The judicial proceeding was so drawn out that it unfolded from 1980 to 1994.  During that time, several Attorneys General of the Republic served in succession and various judges were in c…

Of flooding and presidential candidates

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A weather system related to the tropical weather patterns which produced hurricane Michael in the Caribbean has been generating heavy rains and flooding in El Salvador.  A "zone of intertropical convergence" has been over the country since Friday drawing moisture and storms off of the Pacific Ocean, according the the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources.   The greatest impacts are being felt along the coast and in the eastern regions of the country.

The government ordered all schools in the country closed on Monday and Tuesday as a precaution because of the danger of flooding and landslides.   At least four people have died, 14 are wounded and 700 people have sought protection in shelters.

The Litoral highway which runs along El Salvador's Pacific coast was largely impassable because of mudslides and fallen trees.

Meanwhile, El Salvador's presidential candidates and their parties made sure to show up in affected zones giving aid and looking concerned.   …

Oscar Romero -- Getting to know him

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On Sunday October 14, martyred Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Romero will be canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church at a ceremony in Rome.  His image is everywhere in El Salvador as the people remember the voice of the voiceless, who walked as a shepherd of the suffering people of El Salvador before his murder in 1980.

If you have not spent much time with Romero, here are some great resources in English to gain a deeper appreciation for his life and what he meant for the people of El Salvador.

The best documentary:  Monsenor: The Last Journey of Oscar Romero.   This documentary, which was released on DVD last year, offers lots of archival footage of Romero and the remembrances of many people who knew and worked with him.  Highly recommended.

The best dramatization:  Romero  starring Raul Julia.   This Hollywood movie is the way that many English speakers get to know Romero.   Some of the details are not historically accurate, but the majority of the film is true to Romero'…

An injunction and family uncertainty over TPS

For the first time since the Trump administration announced it was terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans effective September 2019, there is a bit of good news.   A federal judge in San Francisco has entered a preliminary injunction temporarily blocking the end of TPS. 

The injunction comes in a case titled Ramos v Nielsen brought by the ACLU and other groups against the Trump administration challenging the TPS cancellations for El Salvador and other countries. This lawsuit includes both TPS holders and their US citizen children. The plaintiffs allege that the arbitrary TPS cancellation violates rights of the US citizen children to the integrity of their families and violates constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection.

Judge Edward Chen of the Northern District of California entered the order on October 3 which prevents the Trump administration from terminating TPS protections while the litigation is continuing.   Judge Chen found that the p…

A new ambassador

US president Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Ronald Johnson to be the new ambassador to El Salvador Wednesday. From the announcement:
Mr. Johnson has served the United States Government for over three decades. His career in the Government first began as an officer in the United States Army, retiring in 1998 as a Colonel, and then as a member of the intelligence community. Currently, Mr. Johnson is the Central Intelligence Agency’s Science and Technology Liaison to the United States Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida. Previously, he was special advisor to the United States Southern Command.The appointment of Johnson would be a variation from recent ambassadors to El Salvador. George W. Bush appointed two wealthy campaign donors, Obama appointed Mari Carmen Aponte, a campaign supporter who became a popular ambassador in the country, followed by Jean Manes, a career State department official.

The appointment of Johnson, a new ambassador with a military backgr…