Showing posts from July, 2019

Recent news from El Salvador

Here are a collection of short highlights from recent news in El Salvador: Former president of El Salvador Mauricio Funes is now a Nicaraguan citizen .  Funes, who is wanted in El Salvador on corruption charges, has been in exile in Nicaragua and was granted political asylum there.    Becoming a Nicaraguan citizen gives him more protection because the Nicaraguan constitution prohibits extradition of Nicaraguan nationals to third countries. The National Assembly elected new magistrates to the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal.   The new magistrates will oversee the 2021 national elections for mayors and deputies in the National Assembly.   Although magistrates are supposed to be non-partisan, observers noted numerous party links among the new magistrates who were chosen following back room discussions among the country's major political parties. El Salvador completed an international bond offering of slightly more than $1 billion.  The proceeds will retire $800 millio

The trap of teen pregnancy in El Salvador

A prime cause for women to face lives in poverty was highlighted by Al Jazeera in an article titled  The 'vicious cycle' driving teen pregnancy in El Salvador .   The article is a lengthy overview of how pregnancy at a young age, whether caused by lack of sexual education, lack of access to contraceptives, abuse or rape, traps young women in a cycle of poverty.   The scope of the problem: Adolescents comprise one in three pregnancies in El Salvador. For girls who do become pregnant, dropping out of school is one of their only options.  "In many cases, school principals say, 'We don't want them here. It will motivate other children to become pregnant,'" said Erika Guevara, a Ciudad Mujer Programmes Coordinator.  According to the United Nations, 60 percent of young girls in El Salvador who become pregnant between the ages of 10 and 17 had already dropped out of school before becoming pregnant. Of those who were in school when they got pregnant, the ma

Sowing life through tree planting

Mexico promised the US that it would take steps to reduce the flow of migrants from Central America arriving at the southern border of the US. One way Mexico proposes to do that is by funding a program in the Northern Triangle countries to reforest rural areas and generate employment.      The  Associated Press  described the recent inauguration of the project in El Salvador: Mexico is bringing to El Salvador a tree-planting program that aims to support rural residents and ease economic pressures driving thousands of people to leave for the United States. The program known as “Sowing Life” offers farmers $250 a month to plant fruit or timber trees, and whatever they harvest belongs to them. Mexico is donating $31 million to fund the plan in El Salvador, and authorities say it should create 20,000 jobs.  The program is a smaller version of a much larger reforestation plan the Mexican government has begun implementing in southern Mexico.   In addition to El Salvador, Mexico als

The El Mozote case returns to the courtroom

The case of the 1981 massacre of children, the elderly and others at El Mozote and surrounding communities returned to the courtroom in San Francisco Gotera, El Salvador last week.  There a judge is hearing a criminal case against generals and other military commanders for their responsibility for the massacre which killed almost 1000 civilians, more than half of whom were children.  The increasingly elderly victims and the increasingly elderly defendants were in court to hear the new charges facing the retired officers.  The judge overseeing the case in in San Francisco Gotera, Jorge Alberto Guzmán, indicated that after his review of the evidence produced so far in the case, he was adding to the criminal charges to include forced disappearances, forced displacement and torture. The judge also added another defendant to the case: ex-colonel Gabriel Contreras, who was chief of operations for the air force at the time of the massacre.  With the addition of Contreras, there are a tota

Bukele wants El Salvador treated differently from its neighbors

Tomorrow president Nayib Bukele will meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in El Salvador.  Since his election in early February, Nayib Bukele has been openly courting the United States.  With a message that El Salvador wants a close partnership with the US, Bukele has made multiple trips to Washington, has established a close relationship with US Ambassador Jean Manes, and refuses to criticize any of the anti-immigrant polices of president Donald Trump. Now Bukele is urging the US to stop viewing the Northern Triangle countries as a monolith and to give El Salvador the better treatment Bukele believes his country deserves.  From  AP News : El Salvador’s new president said his country is trying to reduce irregular migration and fight crime and drug trafficking, and deserves to be treated differently than nearby countries.  In remarks late Monday, Nayib Bukele called on Washington not to lump his country in with Honduras and Guatemala, the other two nations that make up Cent

When is a homicide not a homicide?

This post was originally published on the website of InsightCrime with the title El Salvador to Omit Key Data From Official Homicide Tally By Parker Asmann The government of El Salvador says that homicide data will only include “social violence” and not instances involving confrontations with security forces, a move that makes it difficult to accurately analyze the country’s precarious security situation. El Salvador’s national police explained to President Nayib Bukele that the homicides registered in the country will no longer include victims of alleged confrontations between security forces and suspected gang members, nor those found dead and buried in graves, El Mundo reported . In the first 45 days of the Bukele administration, 35 suspected gang members have been killed in alleged confrontations with security forces — 22 in June and 13 in the first 15 days of July. Such incidents will no longer be included in the daily tally of violent deaths, according to El Diario de Hoy

A human rights agenda for El Salvador

At the end of June, Amnesty International, met with the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, to deliver a set of recommendations concerning the human rights situation in El Salvador.   The brief deals with the need to assess responsibility for historic human rights abuses in the civil war, the rights of women and girls, the need to protect human rights defenders, the needs of migrants,   human rights in public security and policing, and adherence to international human rights commitments. Bukele has frequently voiced a commitment to human rights standards, but the level of his commitment to human rights is most in question as he deploys a mano dura / iron fist approach in his Territorial Control Plan to combat gang violence in the country.   Adding to the security presence on the streets of the country, Bukele announced that the armed forces will recruit another 3000 soldiers to engage in domestic crime fighting actions.   El Salvador’s police and armed forces are not kn

Nayib Bukele's Territorial Control Plan

President Nayib Bukele rolled out the first phase of his plan to reduce crime and violence in El Salvador in June. This first phase, called the Territorial Control Plan, consists of a variety of measures being aggressively applied in the country against gang structures.  There has been a large scale deployment of police and soldiers into 17 communities including the historic center of San Salvador. Heavily armed patrols flood the streets to take back control of neighborhoods from gangs. Young men are stopped and frisked and having their identities checked against lists of wanted gang members.  There have been arrests of more than 4200 persons in the first four weeks of the Territorial Control Plan. Bukele wants the presence of security forces in these communities to have the effect of curtailing extortion, a major economic input for the gangs.  Police and soldiers are also being  deployed onto buses  to reduce robberies on the buses and provide a sense of security.  A s

Putting Oscar and Valeria's deaths in context

The deaths of Oscar and Valeria Martinez continue to echo in El Salvador.   Their attempt to cross the dangerous waters of the Rio Grande was forced by exclusionary policies of the US government which drastically limit the number of asylum seekers who can cross a bridge at an official port of entry each day. Those policies instead push desperate migrants into the water or into the dessert away from walls and border patrols in their attempt to enter the US, often with fatal results. We know Oscar and Valeria's story because of one emotionally dramatic photograph.   Yet they are just two of the scores of migrants who have continued to die making attempts to cross the US border.  Data from the Missing Migrants Project, which tracks migrant disappearances and deaths worldwide, documents at least 181 deaths along the US-Mexico border so far this year, or almost exactly one per day.  This compares to 212 deaths in all of 2018.  The number of deaths has increased every year since 2014:

Bukele interview on Sky News

Nayib Bukele sat down for a 42 minute interview in English with a reporter from British broadcaster Sky News.   He gave thoughtful answers about the problems afflicting El Salvador on topics including migration, security, and relations with the United States.   Well worth watching at this link .

It's our fault

The shocking images of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, 26, and his toddler daughter Valeria face down after drowning in the Rio Grande shocked consciences around the world.    These two who had fled El Salvador with Valeria's mother lost their lives trying to enter the United States after waiting for weeks in a dangerous border zone hoping to enter at an official border point. As their bodies were being repatriated to El Salvador, eyes turned to El Salvador's president and what he would say about this tragedy.    At a press conference on Sunday, Bukele was asked questions by the BBC and SkyNews about the tragedy and the phenomenon of migration. Bukele responded in English: People don't flee their homes because they want to, people flee their homes because they feel they have to.   Why? Because they don't have a job, because they are being threatened by gangs, because they don't have basic things like water, education, health.   We can blame any othe