Showing posts from March, 2020

4 tips for staying connected during coronavirus, from migrants who live far from family

For immigrants like Juana, from El Salvador, migration – not coronavirus – is the main cause of separation from family. Norwalk, Connecticut, March 25, 2020. John Moore/Getty Images Originally published at The Conversation . By  Lynnette Arnold , University of Massachusetts Amherst As social distancing and shelter-in-place orders are implemented to curb the spread of coronavirus, ever more people worldwide are separated from relatives, friends and loved ones. As of March 29, an estimated 229 million Americans , 60 million Italians and 1.3 billion Indians have been asked to stay home. Forced separation, while new to most, is a fact of life for the world’s migrants . Still, many sustain close relationships with relatives through years, even decades, of physical distance. As a linguistic anthropologist interested in the power of everyday language , I study how such families maintain relationships by analyzing recordings of their conversa

COVID-19 El Salvador update

As of March 26, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in El Salvador has grown to 13.  According to the government, 11 of these cases are people who contracted the disease while abroad, but two people were reportedly infected at home, apparently by contact with someone who had returned from abroad before all passengers were sent into quarantine centers. This is day 5 of the national stay at home decree issued by the Bukele administration.   Everyone is confined to their homes except for one designated person per household who can go out to purchase food or medicine.   Also exempt are persons in essential businesses. People outside their homes must have proof of their right to be on the street.    Forms have been circulating on social media to print and make your family shopper designation. Private cars may only carry one person.   Taxis and Uber drivers may only have one passenger.  To enforce the stay at home order, the government is patrolling neighborhoods, set

40th anniversary of Romero assassination calls for solidarity

When I was searching for a quote from Saint Oscar Romero to share on this 40th anniversary of his martyrdom, a quote which would be appropriate in these strange days of pandemic, it seemed to me we should hear words of Romero on solidarity with the human family: The present form of the world passes away, and there remains only the joy of having used this world to establish God’s rule here. All pomp, all triumphs, all selfish capitalism, all the false successes of life will pass with the world’s form. All of that passes away.   What does not pass away is love. When one has turned money, property, work in one’s calling into service of others, then the joy of sharing and the feeling that all are one’s family does not pass away. In the evening of life you will be judged on love. (Jan. 21, 2979) Taken from The Violence of Love , a collection of excerpts from homilies of Oscar Romero, translated by James Brockman. You might be interested to review these other account

Muted 40th Romero anniversary recalls the early days

A  guest post from Carlos Colorado, author of the Eminems Doctrina and Super Martyrio blogs. In March 2000 I was in El Salvador for what was then the 20th anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s assassination—the halfway point between the 1980 killing and the 40th anniversary we commemorate this year. At a reception in a trendy boarding house in western San Salvador, I brashly suggested to the guests that Romero could become El Salvador’s Socrates—who was forced to drink poison by fervid Athenians, but was later embraced by the city as its most quintessential son. It fell to the late, legendary NCR correspondent Gary MacEóin to let me down gently, explaining that the entrenched hostility toward Romero from the powerful meant that he would be persona non grata to the political establishment indefinitely. Of course, MacEóin was right about the elites; Romero is “not a saint of their devotion”—as the Salvadoran expression goes—to this day. But many things were already cha

El Salvador locks itself down

There are now three confirmed cases of the virus in El Salvador.   All those infected reportedly contracted the disease outside of the country – one person entered El Salvador through an irregular border crossing and was later identified at a hospital in Metapan, and the other two people were in quarantine after returning to El Salvador through the international airport from Spain.  So far the government says it has tested 102 persons for the virus.  There does not yet appear to be community transmission of the virus in El Salvador.  The government continues to prepare a 2000 bed temporary hospital in the CIFCO convention center. Bukele addressed the nation again on Saturday night.  He declared a thirty day home quarantine for the entire country except for persons in specific classes such as public services, food production and delivery, essential utilities and delivery services, including one person in each family who can go out to buy food or to a pharmacy. Persons in th

February 9, the inside story

In the tidal wave of news related to the novel coronavirus and its impact on El Salvador and the rest of the world, an important story managed to pass largely unnoticed.  On March 11, journalists Efren Lemus, Óscar Martínez and Carlos Martínez published in El Faro  La historia detrás del día en que Bukele se tomó la Asamblea Legislativa  -- The story behind the day Bukele took over the Legislative Assembly . My translation of El Faro's introduction to the piece: The entrance of President Bukele into the Legislative Assembly was not due to any public security loan. It had its origin in the water and algae crisis, in the image problem that this crisis generated for the Government. El Faro reconstructs what happened around the seizure of the congress: three days before, [the office of the president] ordered by chat message the Cabinet to cancel trips and attend the February 9th demonstration; the [personal bodyguards] of the deputies were summoned on Friday with a political messag

Corona virus update for El Salvador

As of Saturday March 14, 2020, there are still no (confirmed) cases of the novel coronavirus in El Salvador.   It should be noted that it is not clear whether El Salvador has tested anyone for the virus at this point, so the virus could be circulating without official acknowledgment. As previously noted , on Wednesday, March 11, president Bukele issued an executive decree which prohibits the entry into El Salvador of anyone who is not a Salvadoran citizen or permanent resident, effective immediately.   Any Salvadoran or resident who returns to the country following the decree is subject to a thirty day quarantine, which does not depend on the country from which the person came or whether the person is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. The decree caught El Salvador's Roman Catholic cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez outside of the country, and as he returned he was among the persons subject to quarantine .   The mayor of the city of Santa Tecla, Roberto d'Aubuisson , was also in

The good news from El Salvador -- steep decline in murder rate

While the international press often still describes El Salvador as one of the deadliest places in the world with one of the highest homicide rates, that has not been the case for several months.   Since the middle of last year, coinciding with the start of the Bukele presidency, the homicide rate has dropped dramatically in El Salvador. Roberto Valencia , a journalist who investigates crime and gangs in El Salvador tracks homicide statistics in El Salvador using official data from government sources.  His daily tweet shows the steady declines in daily average homicides to this point in 2020 when the rate is between 3 and 4 per day.    Compare that to 2015, the bloodiest year since 2000, when the daily average homicide rate was 18.   So the homicide rate has declined by as much as 80% from those heights. With this improvement, San Salvador no longer ranks as the most dangerous capital city in the Americas, instead it ranks sixth behind Caracas, San Juan, Panama City, Tegucig

El Salvador in quarantine

Today president Nayib Bukele of El Salvador took strong action in an attempt to prevent the arrival of the novel coronavirus to El Salvador through an emergency decree . All foreigners, except those holding resident status in El Salvador. are barred from entry to El Salvador for at least the next 21 days.   Salvadorans who arrive from parts of the world where coronavirus is spreading will be quarantined for 30 days upon arrival. All public and private schools and all universities were ordered to suspend classes for the next 21 days. Events where 500 or more people gather are cancelled. Businesses may continue to operate. El Salvador has no confirmed cases of the virus as of today.

Mr. Popularity

The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, continues to have very high approval ratings among members of the public in this country.  This popularity persists even after he took the step on February 9, unprecedented in peacetime El Salvador, of entering the chambers of the Legislative Assembly escorted by armed soldiers to pressure legislators to approve a loan package. That was an action widely criticized by the international community and by the "elites" of the political class in El Salvador.  But Bukele's actions on February 9 appear not to have damaged his popularity and approval ratings among the vast majority of Salvadorans. Since then, two public opinion polls were released which asked respondents about Bukele's administration and their perception of "9F". In a poll by La Prensa Grafica , 85.9% of respondents greatly approved or somewhat approved of Bukele's performance in his first nine months in office.  On a scale of one to ten, his rating

International Women's Day

Today in El Salvador on International Women's Day, various protest marches challenged the violence and inequality which subjugate women and girls.  Some of my posts from the last year involving the rights of women and girls illustrate the many areas where change is needed:   A tragedy and finally acquittal The trap of teen pregnancy in El Salvador Femicide suicide Child and teen pregnancy in El Salvador Ongoing epidemic of gender based violence Judges and Child Sexual Abuse The names of femicide victims were called out this morning in central San Salvador: #DiaDeLaMujer #ElSalvador En memoria de todas las mujeres y niñas víctimas de feminicidios — Revista La Brújula (@labrujula_rev) March 8, 2020 One emblematic case from the past year involved the killing of Karla Turcios, a Salvadoran journalist, murdered by her boyfriend.   He was  convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison.   The important point of this case was not a succ

Reconciliation needs truth and justice.

This essay first appeared in El Faro English with the title  New Fronts in the Battle over History in El Salvador on March 5, 2020. By Nelson Rauda Zablah In the first week of March, experts from the Attorney General’s office will resume digging a trench in the middle of the campus of the University of El Salvador—the largest and only public university of the country—searching for the bodies of students who were assassinated in the beginning of the war. The Salvadoran Civil War (which was fought from 1980 to 1992 and resulted in the death of 75,000 people and the displacement of around 750,000) ended almost three decades ago, but its legacy still reverberates throughout the country. Its memory, despite the best efforts of some of the most powerful war criminals, is still very much alive. During the last week of February, a PhD candidate asked me if El Salvador is “a reconciled country”—if it has come to terms with its past. It was a peculiar week to ask that question, but a goo

Bukele tweets declaration of state of emergency in prison system

After two soldiers were attacked and killed last weekend, presumably by gang members, Nayib Bukele issued a tweet ordering his prison chief to put the entire Salvadoran prison system in lockdown, with prisoners confined to their cells at all times and outside visits eliminated. Director @OsirisLunasMeza decree a maximum emergency in all of the prisons, everyone totally locked down, not a ray of sun for anybody, 0 visits, 0 activities, 0 stores, All in their cells, held incommunicado 24/7, until further order. Six minutes later, chief of prisons Osiris Luna tweeted back: I will comply with your order immediatley, president Bukele.  From this instant they will be on total lockdown.  Maximum emergency in all the prisons.   On Friday, March 6, family members of inmates in the prison system  marched  outside of the president's offices to protest the state of emergency.   They carried signs with a basic message "not every prisoner is a gang member" and challengi

The Romero murder case returns to a Salvadoran courtroom

Yesterday, international human rights lawyer Almudena Bernabeu gave a declaration in the criminal proceedings in El Salvador for the 1980 assassination of archbishop Oscar Romero, now a saint of the Roman Catholic church.  The declaration gave the court background about the facts developed in a  US federal court action where Captain Álvaro Rafael Saravia was found liable for Romero's killing.  Saravia has been named as a defendant in the proceeding filed by Salvadoran prosecutors. From the Guernica Center . The Guernica Centre for International Justice recently traveled to El Salvador as part of its on-going work supporting local partners in their search for justice, truth, and accountability for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the twelve-year civil war. While in El Salvador, Almudena Bernabeu, the executive director of The Guernica Centre, gave a deposition in the Romero case at the Juzgado Cuarto de Instrucción before Judge Rigoberta Chicas. Ber

El Salvador and corona virus preparation

As of today, March 4, there are no confirmed cases of the corona virus (COVID-19) in El Salvador.   But the government recognizes that like everywhere in the world, it is likely the rapidly spreading disease will show up in the small Central America country. The government of El Salvador is taking steps to assure the public it is ready to confront the potential threat of the corona virus.  A health department official urged the population not to panic , but to instead get informed about the symptoms of the disease and the steps necessary to avoid the spread of the disease.  The government plans to take additional control measures during Holy Week when there is significant tourist travel into and out of the country. In a press conference Saturday , health officials stated that there are currently 25 arriving international travelers who are in quarantine.   Ten are in a "controlled"quarantine and 15 are quarantined at home.   The government declined to reveal the location