Catching up on the news
After being on a vacation for a few weeks, here are some short news pieces to catch you up on what is happening in El Salvador.
- International Women's Day was commemorated yesterday. Many organizations issued statements or held activities. A march to commemorate the day proceeded through San Salvador. Leading up to International Women's Day there had been some good news as three more women, imprisoned after suffering miscarriages and then prosecuted for abortion/murder had their sentences commuted by El Salvador's Supreme Judicial Court. Many groups pointed out how far El Salvador falls short on women's rights with high rates of femicide, abuse, discrimination and failure to value women's work.
- Bukele resolves Chicas defamation claim. President-elect Nayib Bukele appeared in court with a stack of cash to settle the defamation claim of Eugenio Chicas. Bukele paid $50,000 to resolve the matter, saying that he did not want to waste any more time on the case because he had important things to do for the people who had elected him. Chicas took Bukele to court after Bukele asserted Chicas had sex with an underage foster daughter and later married her to cover it up.
- Bukele's proposal to build schools rather than legislative offices hits a wall. Bukele's first challenge to the National Assembly told deputies they should restructure a $32 million loan with the Bank of Central American Integration (BCIE) designated for building a new legislative office building and redirect $16 million to build 50 schools and 14 libraries. This week the BCIE issued a statement that the loan could not be restructured for different purposes.
- Homicide rates declining. January and February 2019 had the lowest total homicides for the start of a year since 2013-2014 during the gang truce. More on this improvement in a future post.
- Expansion of coverage for children under ISSS. The National Assembly voted to extend medical coverage to children aged 12-18 years who have parents covered by the social security system. (This is the healthcare system for people in the formal economy who have employers paying into the system). While expanding coverage seems like a good idea, the problem is that the legislators did nothing to increase the resources or funding available to ISSS. Perhaps their goal is to blame Bukele's new government when it cannot adequately implement this expanded coverage.
- Opposition to proposed amnesty law continues. Human rights groups and other organizations continued their pressure opposing a draft law which would re-establish an amnesty for war crimes in El Salvador. The United Nations urged El Salvador not to take a step backwards with such a law. 180 academics signed a letter to the same effect.
- New attorney general prosecutes ARENA money men in Taiwan dollars case. Criminal proceedings have been started against defendants implicated in laundering $10 million of earthquake relief funds from Taiwan diverted by former president Francisco Flores. Flores died while being prosecuted on corruption charges. These new defendants, along with former president Tony Saca who is already in prison for corruption, are being charged with moving the diverted funds into the accounts of ARENA.