education, youth

A Look Inside the Special Needs Classroom

In community Amando Lopez, education is extremely important which is why VOICES has helped and continues to support the operation of a Special Needs Classroom that benefits 6 neighboring communities. Look inside and watch the effort and successes of Mabel Barrera, the popular education teacher offering specialized education, a service virtually unheard of in El Salvador.

 

Help us support Mabel’s classroom by clicking here and making a designated donation to the “Aula de Apoyo.”

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Voices Developments

Read About our Recent Work

We are excited to announce that our new trimestrial newsletter is ready to read.

Follow the link here to read about our amazing succeses from April to June of 2018.

 

Agua/Aqua, El Salvador Government

The People Say No to the Privatization of Water in El Salvador

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This past week the Salvadoran people led two protests against plans for private corporations to privatize the water of their country. On June 14th, hundreds of students from the National University of El Salvador (UES) -at the bequest of the rector himself- set out at 7:30am to march to the national legislative assembly. That morning, the assembly was holding a plenary session in which right wing representatives and the rich elite were discussing just how they will go about making water a commodity. They men sitting in that room knew exactly that what they were plotting was going against the wishes of the majority of the Salvadoran people.

With the help of three of FMLN representatives, the students peacefully gained access to the steps of the national assembly and intended to request an audience with those handful meeting to discuss the fate of the many. They not only declined but were met with pepper spray and violence.

No apologies were given, in fact, Norman Quijano, the president of the Legislative Assembly, held a press conference where he accused the University’s rector, Roger Arias, of being a terrorist.

This past Saturday, an estimated 10,000 took to the streets for a massive protest where the message was clear “The people say no to the Privatization of water in El Salvador.” This protest began and ended peacefully and included all sectors of Salvadoran society.


VIDEO (en español)

Privatizing is nothing new for the right-wing elite in El Salvador, who have since 1991, privatized the banking system, the telephonic system and pensions. None of these have come with guarantees, transparency or benefits to the Salvadoran poor and working class. It is not an ideology but the evidence: privatization in El Salvador has ruined more than it has built.

To those in control, water privatization is the final step in gaining full economic control and due to past legislative election, unfortunately it may come to fruition, but not without a full resistance from the Salvadoran population who may still have the ability to upset this diabolical decision if the pressure is constant.

READ OUR REPORT ON WATER AS A HUMAN RIGHT IN EL SALVADOR

#NoALaPrivatizacionDelAgua

Uncategorized

EL SALVADOR IS ON ALERT FOR THE PRIVATIZATION OF WATER

Versión Español

0604062El Salvador faces a profound water crisis. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), it is the only country in the Central American region dangerously close to experiencing water stress and with 1,700 cubic meters per capita per year, it has the lowest water availability per inhabitant of all the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

However, as argued by ECLAC, El Salvador already experiences water stress because the conditions of access to water are precarious. The scarcity of water caused by deforestation and by the pollution of rivers and other surface sources, adds to an ethical problem of unfair management and distribution. Even in places where apparently there is enough water, the poor always have difficulty accessing it; while the owners of golf courses, bottling companies, sugarcane producers, and other private interests use all the water they want, not caring how they affect local communities.

Due to this injustice, a group of Salvadoran civil society organizations submitted a proposal called The General Water Law to the Legislative Assembly in March 2006. With the aim of generating a change in the vision and behavior of state institutions and civil society with respect to compliance with the human right to water, the law was based on principles such as: civic participation, full access, focus on the basin, sustainability and decentralization.

Over the following years, updated proposals were presented in Parliament, as well as different direct actions organized by the people who demanded that the General Water Law to be promulgated. However, due to strong tensions between the right-wing parties and the FMLN, a consensus has never been reached. On June 14, 2017 the four major right-wing parties presented a new draft bill designed to suit the interests of the large private companies called The Integral Water Law.

This new proposal generated a strong rejection from the general public and the civil society organizations, who which for more than a decade have been fighting for water to be recognized as a human right in El Salvador. Many people have expressed their concerns, questioned intentions and denounced the legislative right’s decision to hand over the country’s water resources to the private sector.

The March 4, 2018 midterm election results rewrote the political map in the Legislative Assembly, paving the way for the right to advance with its 2017 proposal and on June 5, paradoxically within the framework of the celebration of World Environment Day, the legislative commission responsible for the environmental issue, agreed to begin discussing the Integral Water Law, in sense ignoring all other draft laws presented. In response, the FMLN wrote in its twitter account: “This day, taking advantage of its majority in the Committee on Environment and Climate Change, the right takes steps towards the privatization of water resources.”

For their part, organizations and social movements are on alert and strong mobilizations are being prepared for the coming days. José Santos Guevara, coordinator of the Movement of Victims and Affected by Climate Change and Corporations (MOVIAC) stated: “We reject any attempt to privatize water, and we will fight in the streets to prevent water from becoming a commodity, our struggle is for it to be a common good and its access a basic human right.”

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EL SALVADOR EN ALERTA POR LA PRIVATIZACION DEL AGUA

El Salvador enfrenta una profunda crisis hídrica, según la Comisión Económica para América Latina (CEPAL), es el único en la región centroamericana que se encuentra cercano a una situación de estrés hídrico (1,700 m3 per cápita por año), lo que lo sitúa entre los países en Latinoamérica y el Caribe con más baja disponibilidad de agua por habitante.

No obstante, lo sostenido por la CEPAL, El Salvador ya experimenta estrés hídrico, debido a que las condiciones de acceso al agua son precarias, porque a la escases provocada por la deforestación y por la contaminación de los ríos y demás fuentes superficiales, se adiciona un problema ético de gestión y distribución injusta; incluso en lugares donde aparentemente hay agua suficiente son los pobres los que tienen dificultad para acceder a ella; al mismo tiempo que propietarios de campos de golf, compañías embotelladoras, productores de caña de azúcar, y otros intereses privados utilizan toda el agua que quieran, sin importarles la forma en que afectan a las comunidades locales

Esta situación de injusticia llevó, en marzo de 2006, a un grupo de organizaciones de la sociedad civil salvadoreña, a presentar a la Asamblea Legislativa una propuesta de Ley General de Aguas, basada en principios como: la participación, el pleno acceso, el enfoque de cuenca, la sustentabilidad y la descentralización. Con el objetivo de generar un cambio en la visión y comportamiento de las instituciones del Estado y de la sociedad en general con respecto al cumplimiento del derecho humano al agua.

Durante los siguientes años hubo otras propuestas presentadas en el Parlamento, así mismo hubo diferentes acciones de presión por parte de la sociedad para que se promulgara la Ley General de Aguas; sin embargo no se produjo ningún resultado, debido a una fuerte tensión entre los partidos de derecha y el FMLN. El 14 de junio de 2017 los 4 partidos de derecha presentaron un nuevo anteproyecto de ley, denominado: “Ley Integral del Agua”, diseñado a medida de los intereses de la gran empresa privada.

Esta nueva propuesta generó un fuerte rechazo de la ciudadanía. Las organizaciones de la sociedad civil, que por más de una década han luchado por el derecho humano al agua, expresaron su preocupación y denunciaron la intensión de la derecha legislativa de entregar los recursos hídricos del país al sector privado.

Los resultados electorales del 4 de marzo configuraron un nuevo mapa político en la Asamblea Legislativa, allanando el camino para que la derecha avance con su propuesta, y como era de suponer lo está haciendo sin demora. Paradójicamente el 5 de junio, en el marco de la celebración del Día del Medio Ambiente, la comisión legislativa responsable del tema ambiental, acordó iniciar la discusión de la Ley Integral del Agua, ignorando todos los demás anteproyectos de ley presentados, incluso con mayor anticipación. Al respecto el FMLN escribió en su cuenta de twitter: Este día, valiendose de su mayoría en la Comisión de Medio Ambiente y Cambio Climático, la derecha da pasos hacia la privatización del recurso hídrico.

Por su parte las organizaciones y movimientos sociales se encuentran en alerta y se preparan fuertes movilizaciones para los próximos días.  José Santos Guevara, coordinador del Movimiento de Víctimas y Afectados por el Cambio Climático y las Corporaciones, MOVIAC afirma: Nosotros rechazamos cualquier intento de privatización del agua, y vamos a dar la pelea en las calles  para evitar que el agua se convierta en una mercancía, nuestra lucha es para que sea un bien común y su acceso un derecho humano básico.

 

El Salvador Government, Organized Crime, violence

The Issue of Forced Internal Displacement in El Salvador

Today, Cristosal held a public forum where they presented their most recent report intitled “Visibilize the Invisible, Footprints Conceal Violence, Report of ineternal displacement forced by violence in El Salvador in 2017.”
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The report is a recollection and analysis of cases of forced displacement due to violence registered by the CRISTOSAL Foundation with the help of Foundation Quetzalcoatl in 2017 on El Salvador. They also had significant support from The Salvaodran Women’s Institue (ISDEMU) and the Salvaodran Human Rights Ombudsman(PPDH)

The report can be found online HERE and you can find the report they published last year on the same subject HERE. As Celia Medrano, CRISTOSAL’s chief program officer stated in her opening remarks, that “while it important to create an multi-setor response, this phenomena must be an immediate priority for the Salvadoran government.

Below is a graphic taken from the report

In 2017, 701 cases were recorded by both CRISTOAL and Fondation Quetzalcoatl. The majority of victims were women, with two or more children to care for, and hailing from the paracentral region of the country, specifically San Salvador and Soyapango; two regions ravaged by activity.

Reasons for displacement vary but the report has identified the three major motivators in El Salvador to be direct threats, homicides and attempted.

It is important to note that the this report, while extensive, doesn’t 100% coincide with the much lower figures represented by the Salvadoran Government and more specifically the national civil police (PNC). The government representative today said that while they defend their method of analysis, they recognize their lack of awareness on such a “multifaceted phenomenon.”

Many instances of forced displacenmtn are not recorded due to fear of retaliation or lack of confidence in the governments abilities to protect them. The report describes how the majority of these victims wish to stay not only in El Salvador, but in the same states, as to not loose their occupations and support systems. Still, the United National Refugee Agency (ACNUR) has reported a significant increase in Salvadoran asylum seekers, as seen below.
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The report calls upon civil society, national and international organizations and especially national and municipal governments to create “an intergrated system that focuses on prevention, mobilization and policies that protect victims and their families.”

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agriculture, Agua/Aqua, Climate Change, Environment

Celebrating our Earth

Versión Español

Every April 22, International Earth Day is celebrated. It is an opportune occasion to reflect on what is happening to our planet and raise awareness about the need to drastically change paradigms and individual and collective behaviors that devastate the earth.

The earth is our common home and its evolution made it possible for life to emerge. The ozone layer and the earth’s magnetic field block harmful solar radiation, while the atmosphere retains enough solar energy for a climate and a temperature suitable for life, likewise water and the existence of diverse physical and chemical processes make possible the life of animals and plants, which interact in a dynamic and sustainable equilibrium.

The scientific community estimates that there are 8.7 million species on the planet, of which only 1.3 million have been recorded, which means that approximately 86% of terrestrial species and 91% of marine species are not yet known. Human life depends on this biological richness; nevertheless, human beings are the only species that is causing its extinction. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 5,200 species of vertebrate animals are in serious danger of disappearing.

One of the main reasons for this loss of species is deforestation. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), between the years 1990 and 2016, 129 million hectares of forest have been removed. The main reason is large-scale commercial agriculture, which accounts for 40% of deforestation worldwide and 70% in Latin America. Mining and urban expansion are other significant causes.

In addition to industrial agriculture, there is the indiscriminate use of pesticides. Currently, some 5,000 million tons of toxic pesticides are manufactured and used each year, which directly contributes to the contamination of ecosystems and the extinction of species, such as bees. A European study carried and published by the organization Greenpeace indicates that two thirds of the pollen collected by bees is contaminated by insecticides, acaricides, fungicides and herbicides marketed by the companies Bayern, Syngenta and BASF; causing the death of millions of hives.

Bees are essential for human life, according to the FAO, there are 100 species of crops that supply 90% of the world’s food and bees pollinate more than 70% of them. They also pollinate more than 25,000 species of flowering plants. Without these insects, agricultural activity would practically disappear, generating catastrophic consequences.

Another way how human beings deteriorate the earth is through the generation and inappropriate disposal of an impressive amount of solid waste. The United Nations Environment Program (PNMA) establishes that in the world, between 7,000 and 10,000 million tons of garbage are produced per year, and that a large part of this is not properly disposed, causing a serious problem of environmental contamination and public health.

The burning of fossil fuels is another form of environmental pollution that negatively impacts worldwide health and together with forest degradation, increases the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing a dangerous climate change that has already claimed thousands of lives and seriously threatens the existence of the human species.

What happens to the earth happens to its people so if we want our planet to remain a habitable place it is necessary that we all assume the responsibility of caring for it.


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EL DIA DE LA TIERRA

Cada 22 de abril se celebra el Día Internacional de la Tierra, ocasión oportuna para reflexionar sobre lo que está pasando a nuestro planeta y generar consciencia sobre la necesidad de cambiar drásticamente paradigmas y comportamientos individuales y colectivos de devastan la tierra.

La tierra es nuestro hogar común y su evolución hizo posible que surgiera la vida. La capa de ozono y el campo magnético terrestre bloquean la radiación solar dañina, mientras que la atmósfera retiene la energía solar suficiente para un clima y una temperatura idónea para la vida, así mismo el agua y la existencia de diversos procesos físicos y químicos hacen posible la vida de animales y vegetales, que interactúan en un equilibrio dinámico y sustentable.

La comunidad científica estima que en el planeta existen 8.7 millones de especies, de las cuales apenas han sido registradas 1.3 millones, lo que significa que aproximadamente el 86% de las especies terrestres y el 91% de las marinas aún no se conocen. La vida del ser humano depende de esta riqueza biológica; no obstante, el ser humano es la única especie que está provocando su extinción. Según la Unión Internacional para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, UICN 5.200 especies de animales vertebrados se encuentran en grave peligro de desaparecer.

Una de las razones principales de esta pérdida de especies es la deforestación, de acuerdo a la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación, FAO entre los años 1990 y 2016 se han eliminado 129 millones de hectáreas de bosque, siendo la principal responsable la agricultura comercial a gran escala, que origina el 40% de la deforestación a nivel del planeta y el 70% en América Latina; la minería y la expansión urbana son otras de las causas importantes.

Aunado a la agricultura industrial está el uso indiscriminado de plaguicidas, en la actualidad se fabrican y emplean cada año unas 5,000 millones de toneladas de plaguicidas tóxicos, lo que repercute directamente en la contaminación de los ecosistemas y en la extinción de especies, como por ejemplo las abejas. Un análisis realizado a escala europea publicado por la organización Greenpeace señala que dos terceras partes del polen recolectado por las abejas está contaminado por insecticidas, acaricidas, fungicidas y herbicidas comercializados por las compañías Bayern, Syngenta y Basf. Lo que está provocando la muerte de millones de colmenas.

Las abejas son imprescindibles para la vida del ser humano, de acuerdo a la FAO, existen 100 especies de cultivos que abastecen el 90% de los alimentos del mundo, las abejas polinizan más del 70% de ellos. También, polinizan más de 25.000 especies de plantas con flores. Sin estos insectos la actividad agrícola prácticamente desaparecería, generando consecuencias catastróficas.

Otra forma de cómo el ser humano deteriora la tierra es mediante la generación y disposición inapropiada de una impresionante cantidad de desechos sólidos, al respecto el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente, PNMA establece que en el mundo se producen entre 7,000 y 10,000 millones de toneladas de basura por año y que una gran parte de esta no se dispone adecuadamente, provocando un serio problema de contaminación ambiental y de salud pública.

La quema de combustibles fósiles es otra forma de contaminación ambiental que impacta negativamente en la salud de la población, pero que además junto a la degradación forestal, aumentan la concentración de gases de efecto invernadero en la atmósfera, provocando un peligroso cambio climático que ya ha cobrado miles de vidas y amenaza seriamente la existencia del ser humano.

Lo que le sucede a la tierra, le sucede a las personas, si nos interesa que nuestro planeta siga siendo un lugar habitable es necesario que todos asumamos la responsabilidad de cuidarlo.