We’ve put together some of our highlights from the last 12 months.
2019 ANNUAL WORK REPORT
We’ve put together some of our highlights from the last 12 months.
Today was the World Day of Non-use of Pesticides and the Mesa por la Soberanía Alimentaria aka Bureau for Food Sovereignty held a press conference, to once again denounce the indiscriminate use go Agrotoxins in El Salvador. It was led by Doris Evangelista, a member of the Mesa along with a family who shared their story.
Rosalía Grande López has lost three out of four sons to renal failure, and Oscar, her 4th son, is currently struggling with the disease and almost lost his battle with it two years ago. Rosalía’s house sits in the middle of sugar cane fields, in San Luis Talpa, a muncilaplity with some of the highest rates of chronic renal failure in El Salvador, a disease predominantly found in rural areas where people produce the country’s food supply.
“Sadly,” Doris reminds us, “Rosalía’s heartbreaking story is similar to thousands of other families, from Acajutla to La Union.”
She reads the press release; the facts seem unbelievable…
The public health system in El Salvador is free and provides dialysis treatments and medications to patients with the disease, however the majority of these public hospitals don’t have the necessary equipment and/or medication and therefore are unable to provide the prescribed treatments for all their patients.
Oscar is prescribed two dialysis treatments weekly, but usually the hospital runs out of medication, meaning it can only perform one a week, leaving Oscar to either pay $25-$50 extra a week for medication, or forgo the second treatment, which consistently is his only option.
In El Salvador, even though laws exists, even though the health ministry has demonstrated a strong correlation between agrotoxicos and renal failure and their use has been denounced by both the Human Rights Ombudsman and the United Nations, thousands of people continue to suffer and die as transnational corporations like Monsanto enjoy profits in the billions.
The Mesa is “very concerned that the use of agrochemicals is seriously affecting water, soil, biodiversity, the local economy and food sovereignty throughout the country.” Their concerns seem justifiable, especially with the large-scale sugar cane industry boasting that 2020 will prove to be their best harvest ever.
“They will applaud while we suffer,” lamented Doris, before concluding the conference with a shout out to government institutions and civil society to come together and strategize a campaign against Big Sugar, “because this” she says, “is also about the right to life.”
The organizations that make up the Movement of Victims Affected by Climate Change and Corporations (MOVIAC), took to the streets of San Salvador alongside environmental activists to create awareness about the negative impacts the indiscrimate use of Agrochemicals has on the health and safety of El Salvador.
According to MOVIAC, “Agroecology brings together sustainable and ancestral agricultural practices in order to unify the relationship between nature and humans and guarantee food saftey.”
Farmers, families, educators, leaders, young and old, marched together towards the Legislative Assembly to present a proposed law for the promotion of Agroecology, as a way to mitigate the impacts of climate change. They were met by senior government officials on the environmental committee and were able to submit the documents.
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ECHO El Salvador has expanded it’s reach and is wrapping up its first training session for educators and health promoters in the department of Morazán.
With the help of a great local coordination team and support from from both the ministry of health and education, we were able to compile an impressive list of participants who have been coming together every saturday to receive the training courses from the team of experts from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
We learned a lot from our work down in the Bajo Lempa which prompted us make some changes to the program here in the East. For example, during our Morazán conscription, we made sure to invite not only teachers but their directors as well, so that once the training is over the school teams will have an easier time planning and replicating the classes in their respective institutions.
We also hope to have greater success with local capacitation in the communities, which is why we invited Daniel Perez, Morazán’s health promoter supervisor, to attend this first training session. Not only did he accept but has also offered to assist us in the coordination and monitoring of his team once they are on the ground and imparting classes.
In the Bajo Lempa, we trained 60 participants from six different communities and in Morazán, a total of 75 participants from 16 municipalities will receive training.
Stay tuned to see their progress.
When Nayib Bukele was inaugurated as El Salvador’s new president on June 1, the ceremony—open to the public for the first time—was, like several other opening gambits of the new administration, more symbolic than substantive. Held outdoors in the historic center of downtown San Salvador just blocks from the bustle of street vendors and the wheeze of city buses, the event was squarely on brand with Bukele’s populist messaging and widely promoted as the first glimpse of a “new era” of governance in El Salvador: inclusive, accessible, and transparent.
However, as Bukele marks his first 100 days as president and the substance of his administration begins to take form, Salvadoran popular movement organizations warn that far from any “new ideas” (for which Bukele’s party, Nuevas Ideas, is named), Bukelismo signals a return to the all-too-familiar neoliberal program of wealth reconsolidation and acquiescence to empire, albeit rebranded in the populist, “post-ideological” rhetoric of our times.
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About the author: The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) is a grassroots solidarity organization that has been supporting the Salvadoran people’s struggle for social and economic justice since 1980.
This past summer was full of really exciting visits. The El Salvador staff traveled to the U.S. to take part in the annual board meeting in Maryland, and two delegations visited us here in El Salvador. The first was an awesome group of young chess coaches and the second was a wonderfully dedicated group of staff from the renowned Carlos Rosario International adult charter school in Washington, D.C.
This marks the fourth year the group has come to explore, learn and exchange with the people of El Salvador. Recently, they have focused on creating an intentional partnership with the Amando Lopez community school in the Bajo Lempa. The reason the delegates come is not only to increase the cultural awareness they possess for Salvadorans, a population that makes up the majority of their students back home; but also to be able to exchange knowledge with the educators and leaders of the communities that they visit.
They held meetings with inspiring groups working on youth development, women’s empowerment, LGBTQ rights, and environmental justice. They traveled to Morazán and learned about the history while listening to hopeful opinions about a peaceful future.
In the Bajo Lempa, they facilitated various workshops with the educators and community members on topics such as Self-care in the classroom, reading techniques, the risks of social media, among others. They themselves received workshops in turn from the community’s school staff which you can see more of below in the video.
We want to extend our gratitude to the people behind the scenes who made this an unforgettable delegation, and to those who made donations to rural education throughout the various campaigns. With this money, the Amando Lopez school will improve infrastructure, purchase necessary teaching material, musical instruments and fix school computers.
Until Next Year!