Today the Prensa Grafica had a two-page article about Villa El Rosario, a municipality located in Morazan, 22.2 kilometers north of San Francisco Gotera. The municipal is well known for being part of the Route of Peace, along with Perquin, Arambala, Joateca, Cacaopera and Corinto. The article assesses the recent environmental movement in the municipal.
Elí Abileo Díaz, the Judge of Peace, states how the environmental movement began, “We wanted to combat delinquency and started a project to establish an environmental school. In three years we were the cleanest town in El Salvador and in five years we succeeded in reducing local crime.”
Villa El Rosario is difficult to reach. From the main highway, CA-7, a dusty, rocky road leads to the town. It has a population of 1,500 people, a large percentage of whom work in agriculture and many in the ecological activity of the town. Despite it’s location, there are beautiful natural tourism sites. As the photo in the Prensa says, there are thermal waters, a waterfall, a look out point and the Araute River.
Díaz was a representative in the Legislative Assembly from 1994-1997 and was named Peace Judge in 1997. In 1997, group of community leaders, the National Civil Police (PNC) and other forces met to construct a “judicial co-communal plan” for El Rosario. That included a campaign of door to door visits. Díaz reports, “We told people that it was time for a change and people took it seriously. We held environmental meetings, as well as domestic violence and civic participation workshops. During the first years, some people didn’t want to assist in the project. But in time, the people became more aware of the possibilities and started coming to the meetings.”
The article reports that delinquency is “null, or almost null” in El Rosario. At the end of 2008, the community suffered a series of robberies, reportedly motivated for political reasons. The mayoral council went door to door and the crime stopped. In February 2009, the only crime in the municipal was the killing of a minor. The assassin committed suicide after and was not a member of the local community.
The environment is a transversal axis that has served to prevent crime and motivate civic participation. Contributors are those that take the time to complete the ecological workshops at the environmental school. A local resident stated, “ Here we know that people don’t kill deer or iguanas and we know that trees should not be wasted.” The mayor, Osiel Diaz noted that 2,000 trees have been planted in this green zone in reforestation efforts.
In El Rosario there are no local bars hangouts and the only alcohol, chaparro, is sold two communities away. Chaparro is illegal in Rosario and the town does not give permission for these types of sales. The desire for a safe environment is evident by the sign hanging in the town plaza that reads “We want a plaza where our children can play freely.”
With natural sites, clean environment and safety record, Villa El Rosario seems like a place prime for tourist development. However, there are 8 kilometers of dangerous, dirt roads in the municipal. Travelers need vehicles with four wheel drive to attempt the dangerous roads. The mayor says that better infrastructure is vital for people of the town to gain more economic opportunity needed to get out of poverty.
The tourist sector isn’t the only sector that needs support in El Rosario. There is an old painted white house that has a sign that reads “Foundation of the Rosario Development of Houston: 06/05/05.” Is the only that remains of the effort of compatriots of the United States that were helping community development in the zone. The article doesn’t say what the organization did for the community.
Also, the environmental school was closed in 2004 for economic reasons. Díaz called on the Supreme Court of Justice to help with the Environmental Unity sector of the institution while the school remained inactive for four years. In this year they wait to be reopened. The workers at the school confront difficulties as the costs are taken on by it’s employees. For Díaz, the ideal plan would be that the central government take up the expenses in Villa El Rosario and spread the project to other municipalities. He wants Villa El Rosario to receive support to be able to continue promoting environmental projects.