civil war, human rights, News Highlights, violence

Salvadoran Congress Approves New Law That Benefits War Criminals

Léelo en español

Salvadoran Congress Approves New Law That Benefits War Criminals

On the night of February 26, with 44 votes in Parliament, the right-wing parties ARENA, PCN and PDC, which have been allied for decades, joined once again to approve the so-called Special Law on Transitional Justice, Reparation and National Reconciliation, or Amnesty Law 2.0. This is more or less a replica of the original Amnesty Law that was passed by the same parties in 1993. With that Amnesty Law in place, the worst crimes committed during the civil war remained in impunity and it wasn’t until 2016, when the Legislative Assembly declared that law as unconstitutional that the opportunity to prosecute war crimes arose, like El Mozote, where the Salvadoran army massacred more than 1,000 civilians, mostly women and children. In addition to the government’s many war crimes, crimes committed by death squads and other paramilitary groups linked to the Salvadoran State were also open for prosecution after the 2016 annulment.

According to various human rights organizations and those that support victims of the armed conflict, with the approval of this new law, impunity is again being favored. Under said law, war criminals could benefit from reductions or outright cancellations of penalties, if the defendants apologize for their crimes and collaborate with the justice system. It also states that a judge can abolish a prison sentence for reasons of age, health or the like, although it does not clearly specify the age or health conditions to which it refers.

Regarding this law, Amnesty International had this to say: “The Legislative Assembly of El Salvador did not pass a law, it approved a pact of impunity that seeks to ensure that those who have committed serious human rights violations during the armed conflict are not brought before justice and sanctioned for the atrocities they committed.” In similar terms, David Morales, a former Human Rights ombudsman and current member of CRISTOSAL, said: “The vote of the 44 deputies who today legitimized the massacres and atrocities of war is also a violation of human rights. Now they will be subject to internal constitutional control and international supervision, their infamous act is now part of our historical memory.”

For its part, the FMLN refrained from voting, which was described by the newspaper El Faro as a surprise, considering that on this issue the leftist party has recently “moved away from its historical discourse and has oscillated between different positions.” In fact, two members of the FMLN party who decided to speak to El Faro on the condition of anonymity, claimed that at this time the party is divided between those who support the text of the law and those who condemn it, which led them to ultimately abstain from voting.

Another criticism of the Special Law on Transitional Justice, Reparation and National Reconciliation is that it was formulated, negotiated and approved behind the backs of organizations that have been working for decades to achieve justice for the civil war victims. According to the Bureau Against Impunity in El Salvador, this is most likely due to the favoring of the perpetrators who seek loopholes to avoid prison sentences or penalties that will affect their financial assets, even if it is proven in fair trials that they have murdered, tortured or disappeared thousands of people.

Fortunately, President Bukele has already announced that said law will be vetoed and therefore cannot become the law of the republic. He tweeted: “The Presidency of the Republic will not sanction any law that does not contain the fundamental elements to be fair and constitutional: 1. Truth 2. Reparation 3. Justice. The bill that the @AsaAssemblySV intends to approve does not meet any of these three elements.”

If the veto occurs, the bill would return to the Legislative Assembly, which will have the option of overturning the President’s veto, a move requiring a 2/3 vote but given the correlation of force in Parliament, this seems unattainable. Moving forward, the deputies will have to formulate a new law, which we hope will be oriented to protect the victims and not the perpetrators.

Screen Shot 2020-02-28 at 8.54.20 AM


180913-salvador-disappeared-monument-se-312p_611aa7a2a86aaec806f3832eeb720454.fit-760w

El Congreso Salvadoreño Aprueba una Nueva Ley que Beneficia a los Criminales de Guerra

En la noche del 26 de febrero, con 44 votos en el Parlamento, los partidos de derecha ARENA, PCN y PDC, que se han aliado durante décadas, se unieron una vez más para aprobar la llamada Ley Especial de Justicia Transicional, Reparación y Reconciliación Nacional o Ley de Amnistía 2.0. Esta es más o menos una réplica de la Ley de Amnistía original que fue aprobada por las mismas partes en 1993. Con la Ley de Amnistía anterior, los peores crímenes cometidos durante la guerra civil permanecieron en la impunidad y no fue hasta 2016, cuando el Legislativo La Asamblea declaró esa ley como inconstitucional que surgió la oportunidad de enjuiciar crímenes de guerra, como El Mozote, donde el ejército salvadoreño masacró a más de 1,000 civiles, en su mayoría mujeres y niños. Además de los muchos crímenes de guerra del gobierno, los crímenes cometidos por escuadrones de la muerte y otros grupos paramilitares vinculados al Estado salvadoreño también estaban abiertos a juicio después de la anulación de 2016.

No obstante, con la aprobación de la Ley Especial de Justicia Transicional, Reparación y Reconciliación Nacional, según diferentes organizaciones de derechos humanos y de víctimas del conflicto armado, se favorece nuevamente la impunidad, pues según dicha ley, los criminales de guerra podrían beneficiarse con reducciones y anulación de penas, si los acusados piden perdón por sus crímenes y colaboran con la justicia. También establece que un juez puede abolir una pena de prisión por motivos de edad, salud o similares, aunque no especifica claramente la edad ni las condiciones de salud a las que se refiere.

La reconocida organización Amnistía Internacional, al respecto de esta ley expresó: “La Asamblea Legislativa de El Salvador no aprobó una ley, aprobó un pacto de impunidad que busca que quienes cometieron graves violaciones a los derechos humanos durante el conflicto armado no sean llevados ante la justicia y sancionados por las atrocidades cometidas”. En similares términos se expresó el ex procurador de Derechos Humanos y actualmente integrante de la organización Cristosal, David Morales, quien dijo: “El voto de los 44 diputados que legitimaron hoy las masacres y atrocidades de la guerra, es también una violación de los Derechos Humanos. Ahora serán sometidos al control interno constitucional y a la supervisión internacional, su acto infame ahora es parte de nuestra memoria histórica.” Por su parte el FMLN se abstuvo de votar, lo cual fue calificado por el periódico El Faro como una sorpresa, considerando que en este tema el partido de izquierda se ha alejado de su discurso histórico y ha oscilado entre distintas posturas, de hecho este medio de comunicación publicó que dos diputados del FMLN que decidieron hablar bajo anonimato aseguraron que a último momento se dividió el partido entre quienes apoyaban el texto de la ley  y quienes lo condenaban, y finalmente optaron por abstenerse.

Otro de los cuestionamientos a la Ley es que se formuló, negoció y aprobó a espaldas de las organizaciones que por décadas han reinvindicado los derechos de las víctimas, según la Mesa contra la Impunidad en El Salvador, instancia conformada por más de 20 prestigiosas organizaciones de la sociedad civil, esto se debe probablemente al interés de  favorecer a victimarios, buscando fórmulas para evitar penas de prisión o afectación de sus patrimonios, aún si se demuestra en juicios justos que asesinaron, torturaron o desparecieron a miles de personas.

 Afortunadamente el Presidente ya anunció que dicha ley será vetada y por tanto no podrá convertirse en ley de la república. “La Presidencia de la República no sancionará ninguna ley que no contenga 3 elementos fundamentales para que sea justa y constitucional: 1. Verdad 2. Reparación 3. Justicia. El proyecto de ley que pretende aprobar la @AsambleaSV no cumple ninguno de estos 3 elementos”, escribió el mandatario en su cuenta de Twitter.

Si ocurre el veto, el proyecto de ley regresaría a la Asamblea Legislativa, instancia que tendrá la opción de superar el veto del Presidente, para la cual requiere los votos de 2 terceras partes de los diputados y dada la correlación de fuerza en el Parlamento, esto parece inalcanzable, de manera que los diputados tendrán que formular una nueva ley, esperando que sea orientada a proteger a las víctimas y no a los victimarios.

 

Community News, Disasters

Community Octavio Ortiz Will Soon Inaugurate their Casa Comunal

DSC_3128 copy
In 2012, the Octavio Ortíz community decided to rebuild their casa comunal.
The new infrastructure is more spacious and has a higher foundation, which is fundamental considering that in the past the communities in this part of ​​the country have suffered greatly from floods caused by the overflow of the Lempa River. This building will serve as a shelter for natural disasters and emergency situations.

The beginning wasn’t easy.
Elmer Portillo, who at that time was serving as the President of the community, recently commented on the committed effort put into the the project, “When we began the construction of the new communal house, we didn’t have enough money, nor secured support from NGOs or institutions, we only had the will and the ability to work.”

Despite these limitations, this is the result. DSC_3116A spacious modern structure with impressive architecture.

The community contributed 100% of the labor and also some of the economic resources to purchase materials such as concrete blocks, cement and zinc sheets. Various other sources, among them VOICES, have supported the project with small donations over the years. VOICES made a final donation of $4,750 for the installation of the floor, which will conclude the project in the next few months.

VOICES ON THE BORDER congratulates the community, especially its board of directors for all their determination and hard work.
PHOTO

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Capacity Building, education, Womens issues

Maria’s Dream to Teach

Meet Maria, 

DSC_2642

Maria is a popular education teacher in the Amando Lopez community grade school who VOICES is committed to supporting this year, by providing her with the living wage that she is not entitled to by the Ministry of Education because she lacks certain academic credentials.

Maria teaches Science, Health, Environment, Literature, Arts and Physical Education classes to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.

Maria’s days begin early.

She wakes up at 4AM to clean her home, wash dishes and prepare breakfast for her husband and 4 year old daughter Hazel. After she drops Hazel off at Preschool, she begins her own school day. At noon, she picks up Hazel and goes home to prepare lunch, rest in her hammock and if she’s not called on to be a substitute teacher for the afternoon session, she prepares for the following day of classes. At the end of the day she washes clothes and prepares dinner for everyone before going to bed around 10pm.

DSC_2525

Maria is no stranger to hard work.

“I’ll always remember the summer before 9th grade, when my father told me that I wouldn’t be able to study because it was time for my younger siblings to start school. I felt really sad. I told him that I would pay my own way. That was the day I began working mornings with my brothers and father in the sugarcane fields. When we were done, I would run home as fast I could to wash up and get ready for my afternoon classes. After school I worked on my aunt’s chicken farm. That is how I put myself through high school.”

Increasing the quality of education in our partner communities continues to be of importance to VOICES. In recent years, we have supplemented teachers’ salaries, provided school transportation, covered operational expenses, provided small scholarships for high school students and continuing education courses for teachers.

DSC_2616 copy

Last year, VOICES’ board members were so impressed by Maria’s commitment to teach that we were compelled to make a commitment of our own. Since Maria doesn’t officially show up on the school’s roster, they can only pay her $100 per month.

Maria’s goal is to get her teacher’s license through a distance learning program offered by the National University of El Salvador (UES). Supplementing Maria’s salary will allow her to support her family, afford the costs involved in her coursework and assure a brighter future.

WhatsApp Image 2020-01-30 at 8.26.59 AM

Visit http://www.votb.org/donate to help make Maria’s dream a reality.

* Popular education is a people-oriented and people-guided approach to education that creates a horizontal transmission of knowledge from a teacher to students by adapting to participants and their context. LEARN MORE
Uncategorized

World Day of Non-use of Pesticides

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.

DSC_2407

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…

  • Renal failure is the number one cause of hospital mortality in Salvadoran men.
  • Worldwide, agrotoxics kill 335 million people/year, that’s 40 deaths/ hour.
  • Monsanto, and five other countries, control 60% of the global agrotoxic market.

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.”


ComunicadoSV_Día mundial del no uso de pesticidas (en español).
Video breve (en español).
agriculture, Agua/Aqua, Climate Change, El Salvador Government, Environment, Food Security, Public Health, Uncategorized, Water/Agua

MOVIAC Marches to Promote Agroecology in El Salvador


 

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.

 


 

LEER MÁS↓

Diariocolatino: Propuesta de Ley de Fomento de la Agroecologia sera Presentada la Semana Proxima
DiarioLibre: Exigen Ley para Impulsar la Agroecologia en El Salvador y Prohibir Pesticidas