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Showing posts from August, 2019

Salvadorans overwhelmingly approve of Nayib Bukele's performance so far

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According to poll results released by the Salvadoran newspaper La Prensa Grafica on Friday, Nayib Bukele finishes his first three months in office as the president of El Salvador with an historically high approval rating of 90.4%.   Only a tiny 4.4% of Salvadorans disapprove of the job he is doing.  This is 15-20 points higher than Mauricio Funes and Tony Saca at the same points in their terms in office, and more than 50 points higher than Bukele's immediate predecessor Sanchez Ceren.

The numbers are really quite striking.   Bukele achieved the presidency outside of the formerly dominant parties, ARENA and the FMLN.  Now large blocks of the traditional supporters of those two parties are saying they approve of this president from the "New Ideas" party.   Bukele's popularity gives him tremendous bargaining power with the deputies in the National Assembly who have to fear that opposing Bukele could cost them their seats in the 2021 elections. 

The reason for Bukele&#…

International Day for Victims of Forced Disappearances

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Today, August 30, is the International Day for Victims of Forced Disappearances.   In El Salvador it is a day for remembering the missing and for making commitments to search for truth and justice.  There are a myriad of reasons why a Salvadoran family may be left with the gaping hole of a loved one who has disappeared.

Thousands are still missing from El Salvador's civil war.   Some were kidnapped; others killed and their bodies never found again.


The Salvadoran military also had a cruel practice during the war of kidnapping children who were subsequently put for adoption by families outside of the country..   Despite efforts of organizations like ProBusqueda, many children have never been found and reunited with their families.

But disappearances did not end with the conclusion of the civil war.   Hundreds or thousands still disappear each year within El Salvador.  According to the FGR, more than 2000 persons have been reported missing or disappeared so far this year.

The major…

International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador (CiCIES)

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During his election campaign, a principal pledge of Nayib Bukele was to combat corruption, and one of his proposals was to bring forward in El Salvador a commission with international backing to do just that.  Recently, Bukele has been promising the inauguration of the International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador ("CICIES" for its initials in Spanish) within his first 100 days in office which conclude in mid-September.

Despite the pledge of a corruption fighting commission, few details are known about how such a body will function.   The task of developing this commission was given by Bukele to his vice president Felix Ulloa.  From Latin America Reports:
On June 7, Vice President Félix Ulloa confirmed that the government was in “advanced conversations” with the OAS and the UN about the CICIES, but no formal plans have been released. Leonor Arteaga, program director at the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF) highlighted that it is paramount the government release…

A tragedy and finally acquittal

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The case of Evelyn Beatriz Hernández Cruz, is a tragedy.   As a teenager, she was condemned to prison in 2017 for thirty years for aggravated homicide after losing her baby when she was 8 months pregnant.  The pregnancy had been the result of repeated rapes of the teenager.   After the baby was stillborn Evelyn was arrested by authorities for a suspected abortion, a crime in El Salvador prosecuted as murder.
Her lawyers successfully got her 2017 conviction overturned on appeal for lack of evidence, but the prosecutors in El Salvador decided to try her again.   Yesterday, Evelyn's second trial ended in an acquittal.

The case has been highlighted by women's rights groups campaigning against the unjust treatment of women in Evelyn's situation.   Evelyn's case is emblematic of too many cases where a miscarriage results in criminal prosecution for homicide. 

Advocates celebrated yesterday's acquittal as described in the New York Times:
In a stat…

Water crisis in El Salvador

A recent article by Nina Lakhani in the Guardian titled Living without water: the crisis pushing people out of El Salvador  is an excellent summary of how a failure to comprehensively manage the precious resource of water in El Salvador threatens many in the country.  As summarized in the article:
Years of drought has prompted water rationing in urban and rural areas across the country. Yet much is wasted: most rainwater is lost due to widespread deforestation and eroded river basins; once in the system, 48% of water is lost through leaks.  Sources are already running dry: the Nejapa aquifer provides 40% of the water used by the overcrowded capital, but the water level has shrunk by 20% in the past five years alone....  “There are no clear rules, no sanctions, no monitoring, and big business uses these legal vacuums to exploit water as a product for profit. It’s the poorest who suffer most." That article should be read in conjunction with Heather Gies' excellent overview of E…

Following US policy towards El Salvador

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Many US officials have been talking about and visiting El Salvador in the first 12 days of August.   At the beginning of August came a statement from acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan that the US is seeking to negotiate a Safe Third Party agreement with El Salvador and Honduras similar to the agreement that the US says it has negotiated with Guatemala.   Such agreements are proposed to prevent migrants who pass through such countries from being able to successfully seek asylum in the US.  There has not been an official statement from the Salvadoran government about the concept.

On August 9, a Congressional delegation of Democrats arrived in El Salvador led by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.   Speaker Pelosi expressed skepticism about Trump's plan to enter safe third party agreements with the Central American countries.  Her joint press conference with president Nayib Bukele can be viewed here.

[I have no idea what Nancy Pelosi meant in her remark…