Showing posts from November, 2023

Bukele's latest image-making project: Miss Universe Pageant 2023

While I am not a fan of beauty pageants, clearly others are .   This week the 2023 Miss Universe pageant is taking place in El Salvador.  It is another of the sweeping image-making projects of which president Nayib Bukele is so fond. The Miss Universe pageant came to El Salvador once before in 1975. At that time, the country was run by an unholy alliance of an oligarchy and the military.  The country brought in a contest of beauties with sights of sun and beautiful beaches in an attempt to improve its image during a year which saw massacres, repressions and unrest in the lead-up to the approaching civil war. As the New York Post wrote today: The last time that organizers held a Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador, in 1975, rioting students staged demonstrations that ultimately ended in a massacre and plunged the country into a brutal civil war.... Meanwhile, San Salvador locals are protesting the national government having spent a reported $12 million in public funds to host the ev

Facing the challenge of food insecurity

For a significant percentage of families in El Salvador, putting food on the table continues to get more difficult.  Prices for food climbed after the COVID-19 pandemic and have remained high, and climate change and natural disasters put at risk the basic foodstuffs which can be grown locally.   Five UN agencies just released their 2023 Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean .   The UN report describes ranges of food insecurity countries may face: The prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity, based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), is an estimate of the proportion of the population facing moderate or severe constraints on their ability to obtain sufficient food over the course of a year. People face moderate food insecurity when they are uncertain of their ability to obtain food and have been forced to reduce, at times over the year, the quality and/ or quantity of food they consume due to lack of money or other resourc

Salvadoran government raises tax for Africans and Indians transiting airport

The United States is facing a record number of migrants from all across the world making their way to the southern US border to attempt to enter.   With hundreds of thousands passing through Central America, the US wants to enlist countries in the region to help stem that flow.  A new tax on certain travelers from Africa and India who pass through El Salvador's airport, may be a part of that cooperation sought by the US.  The United Nations noted in September of this year a dramatic increase during 2023 in persons from Cuba, Haiti and Africa flying into Central America as part of trying to migrate towards the US.  Whereas before, thousands of Africans arrived in Central America on their route north after passing through the treacherous Darién Gap between Colombia and Panama, many now avoid those dangers by catching flights into Central America.   IOM said the most significant trend has been the shift by Cuban migrants and those coming from African countries who are increasingly fl

MS-13 leader secretly released from Salvadoran prison, now in US custody

This article first appeared on the website of InsightCrime with the title  Capture of MS13 Leader Exposes US-El Salvador Rift  . By Steven Dudley November 9, 2023 Mexican authorities have captured a top Salvadoran gang leader who had been secretly released from an El Salvador prison and had fled the country. His capture, and expulsion to the United States to face charges, exposes the growing rift between the US and El Salvador over how to deal with top-level gang members. A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Mexican authorities had captured Élmer Canales Rivera, alias “Crook,” in Tapachula, a city along the Mexico-Guatemala border that is a crucial passage point and refuge for migrants. La Prensa Gráfica also reported the capture on November 9, citing an anonymous source. However, it did not say where he was captured. Crook is a member of the so-called ranfla histórica, the “historic leadership board” of the Mara Salvatrucha ( MS13 ). The ranfla originally had

Bukele to temporarily leave the office of president December 1

On November 6, El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal issued a ruling on the candidacy of Nayib Bukele to be re-elected as president of El Salvador.  The TSE ruled that it was bound by a determination of the Constitutional Chamber, which declared in September 2021 that the Constitution did not prohibit re-election of a president for a second term. However, the TSE ruled that in order to run for president again, Bukele and his vice president Felix Ulloa, will need to take leaves from their positions for the final six months of their terms in office which end next June 1.  In other words, on December 1, someone else will be the acting president of El Salvador for a six month period. This bizarre situation, where the president steps aside temporarily so he can run again, is created solely by the tortured logic which the Constitutional Chamber used to find that Bukele could be re-elected.  This was the Constitutional Chamber of Bukele allies illegally installed after Nuevas Ideas

The apologists

Since March 2022, the government of El Salvador  reports  it has captured more than 72,600 persons under the State of Exception, bringing the total number of persons imprisoned to more than 100,000 in this country of 6.3 million people.  Respected human rights organizations have denounced thousands of cases of arbitrary detentions, and have compiled reports of abuse and torture in the country's grossly overcrowded prisons. The government of Nayib Bukele has two officials whose nominal responsibilities are to report on and highlight human rights issues within the country, including in its prisons.  The first is the Procuradora para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos or "PDDH". Into English, this is usually translated as Human Rights Ombudsman, and this is an office enshrined in the Salvadoran constitution after the 1992 Peace Accords.  The second is a new post in the Bukele administration called the "Commissioner for Human Rights."    The officials filling these