Corruption, El Salvador Government, human rights

Justice for El Mozote!

1423580392900_nyc17325A press conference was held this morning, August 13th, in San Salvador by representatives of Tutela Legal Maria Julia Hernandez to give an update on the case of  El Mozote, the massacre that occurred on December 11, 1981 in northern Morazán.

Over 40 witnesses have come forward since the overturn of El Salvador’s Amnesty Law in 2016 to contribute harrowing testimonies of the barbarity executed by Lieutenant Colonel Domingo Monterrosa Barrios (deceased) and the Atlacatl Battalion (disbanded).

According to the findings, Monterrosa had the full cooperation and authorization from the Salvadoran state at the time of the massacre and attempted to cover up and deny the act, which was thwarted due to the forensic anthropological team from Argentina that conducted exhumations. Based on their invaluable work, it has come to light that over 1,000 innocent civilians were indeed tormented and being killed.
Santos Pereyra, Rubencinda Marquez

“It is no longer possible to deny that a massacre occurred.” stated one of the attorneys from Tutela Legal.

The legal team also expressed the painful truth that til this day, survivors of the massacre have been left blind, sterile, full of shrapnel and continue to suffer from post traumatic stress.

The 18 military commanders that carried out this inhumane act are being tried in a court of law, some posthumously, in a judicial process that has reached “an advanced stage,” and attorneys are confident that justice will “finally be served.”


cropped-Logo-Tutela-Legal

 

The mission of Tutela Legal is the “observation, protection, study, promotion, dissemination, information and intervention in the defense of threatened or violated human rights, with special attention to groups in vulnerable situations.”

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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

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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Climate Change, El Salvador Government, Environment, Water/Agua

The March for Water / La Marcha por el Agua

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“Great March for the Defense of Water. To denounce the threat of water privatization by national and transnational businesses.”

Versión Español

Tomorrow on July 24th, 2017, myriads of people from communities throughout the country will gather in San Salvador to denounce the right-wing private business association law that would see them having control over water in El Salvador.

This action is just one amidst an ocean of resistance happening in big cities and small towns across the country to fight to protect natural resources and human life.

The Movement of Victims Affected by Climate Change and Corporations (MOVIAC) will hand out the following flyers to all who attend. (Haga clic derecho para descargar).

Posicionamiento del MOVIAC_2017_GranMarcha.jpg~Right-click to download~


La Marcha por el Agua

Mañana, el 24 de julio de 2017, cientos de personas de comunidades de todo el país se reunirán en San Salvador para denunciar la ley del aqua presentada por la derecha y la asociación de negocios privados que les permitiría tener control sobre el agua en El Salvador.

Esta acción es sólo una en medio de un mar de resistencia que ha estado ocurriendo en las grandes ciudades y pequeños pueblos de todo el país para luchar por proteger los recursos naturales y la vida humana.

El Movimiento de las Víctimas Afectadas por el Cambio Climático y las Corporaciones (MOVIAC) entregará los siguientes folletos a todos los que asistan.

Posicionamiento del MOVIAC_2017_GranMarcha.jpg~Haga clic derecho para descargar~

agriculture, Agua/Aqua, Cabanas, Climate Change, Corruption, Disasters, Economy, El Salvador Government, Environment, Food Security, International Relations, Mining, Politics, Public Health

A Historical Vote for Environmental Justice

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Versión Español

March 29th, 2017

Despite a short 72 hour notice, some three hundred people from across the country, descended on the courtyard of the Legislative Assembly in San Salvador to be be present during one of the most historical votes in the counter’s recent history. Today was the result of a persistent movement led by communities, national and international environmental organizations, universities, politicians, lawyers, scientists, health professions and most recently, even the Pope himself, recently joined the cause.

According to the UN, El Salvador has the second highest degree of environmental deterioration in the Americas, with only 3% of intact natural forests, soils ruined by inadequate agricultural practices and more than 90% of contaminated surface waters. A recent study by the Central American University José Simeón Cañas (UCA) revealed that 90% of the population demands that the Government take immediate measures to prohibit this putrid industry.

Today was not only a victory for the Anti-Mining activists but it also gave a glimpse of hope that the Water Rights Act, another overdue, essential bill could finally be put before the same assembly and passed. Both laws go hand in hand in the protection of the most basic and important human right of Salvadorans; the right to a dignified and healthy life.

Read the Press Release


Un Voto Histórico para la Justicia Ambiental

Marzo 29, 2017

A pesar de un breve aviso de 72 horas, unas trescientas personas, representado varios regiones del país descendieron al patio de la Asamblea Legislativa en San Salvador para estar presentes durante uno de los votos más trascendentales de la historia reciente del país. Hoy en día, fue el resultado de un movimiento persistente liderado por comunidades, organizaciones ambientales nacionales e internacionales, universidades, políticos, abogados, científicos, profesiones de la salud y más recientemente, incluso el Papa mismo , se unió a la causa.

Según la ONU, El Salvador tiene el segundo mayor grado de deterioro ambiental en las Américas, con sólo el 3% de bosques naturales intactos, los suelos son arruinados por prácticas agrícolas inadecuadas y más del 90% de las aguas superficiales son contaminadas. Un reciente estudio de la Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas (UCA) reveló que el 90% de la población exige que el Gobierno tome medidas inmediatas para prohibir esta industria pútrida.

Hoy, no sólo fue una victoria para los activistas antiminerales, sino que también dio un vistazo a la esperanza de que la Ley del Agua, otro proyecto imprescindible y atrasado, podría finalmente ser sometido a la misma asamblea y aprobado. Ambas leyes van de la mano en la protección del derecho humano más básico e importante de los salvadoreños; El derecho a una vida digna y sana.

Lea Aquí el Comunicado

agriculture, Climate Change, Corruption, Disasters, Economy, El Salvador Government, Environment, Food Security, International Relations, Mining, Partnership for Growth, Public Health, transparency, Uncategorized, violence, Voices Developments

El Salvador’s Metal Mining Debate

Versión Español

In 2002, the Canadian corporation Pacific Rim registered in El Salvador. It was invited by the Salvadoran government to exploit the potential of the country in terms of gold and silver. Pacific Rim identified at least 25 favorable sites for the extraction of gold, in the beginning of its explorations. One of these sites is known as El Dorado, in the department of Cabañas. In December 2004, the company formally requested permission to operate the El Dorado mine, but the government denied permission for inconsistencies in the environmental impact study, and because the company did not have the authorization of the owners of the land where the exploitation of gold and silver would be carried out.

In response to the Salvadoran government’s refusal to grant the El Dorado project exploitation permit, in July 2008, Pacific Rim filed a lawsuit against the Salvadoran government through the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

The company demanded El Salvador pay them $77 million for the amount invested before they were denied the authorization permit. Later this requirement was increased to $301 million and finally reduced to $250 million. At the end of 2013, Pacific Rim filed for bankruptcy and sold its shares to the Australian transnational company Oceana Gold, which continued the lawsuit process.

After a long litigation, on October 14, 2016, the international court ruled in favor of the Salvadoran government and against the mining company. The verdict also determined that the company must compensate with $8 million to the Salvadoran government to cover the procedural costs of the litigation.

Following this ruling, on November 24, 2016, the Movement of Victims Affected by Climate Change and Corporations (MOVIAC), submitted a letter to the Legislative Assembly requesting a ban on all metal mining in the country. This request opened an intense debate that is increasingly gaining strength. On February 6, the Central American University José Simeón Cañas (UCA) and the Catholic Church presented a proposal for a law to ban metal mining.

The request for a ban is justified by the serious social and ecological impacts caused by the mining industry and by the high degree of pollution and environmental deterioration that the country is currently suffering. According to international experts, El Salvador is the country with the most environmental deterioration in the continent, after Haiti. The United Nations has described El Salvador as the country with the least amount of water available throughout the continent, while the Ministry of the Environment has reported that more than 90% of surface water is seriously contaminated and only 10% are suitable for use as potable.

This water crisis could become much more serious if gold and silver mining projects are located in the basin of the river Lempa, which is the most important river in the country. Its basin makes up 50% of the national territory, and houses 70% of the country’s population.

El Salvador is the only country in Central America that does not have mineral exploitation and in an opinion poll conducted by the UCA in June 2015, 76% of the population is against the opening of mining projects. Despite this opposition, there is great pressure from transnational companies to initiate gold and silver mining projects. This of course is due to the findings from Pacific Rim that discovered approximatly 1.2 million ounces of high-purity gold and more than 7.5 million ounces of silver in the subsoil of the northern part of the country. In addition to another 558 thousand ounces of gold and 1.2 million silver of lower quality.

Apparently this is a good thing; however, experience in neighboring countries such as Guatemala and Honduras demonstrates how harmful the mining industry is to people and the environment. Especially when it comes to water resources. According to a recent UCA publication, the Marlin mine in Guatemala uses about 6 million liters of water per day; and nearby communities have reported 40 dry communal wells in the eight years of the mine’s operations. Likewise in the region of Valle de Siria in Honduras, the San Martín mine has dried 19 of the original 23 rivers in the area throughout its’ nine years of operation.

These effects could be worse in El Salvador, due to the fragility of its ecosystems and the population density of around 300 inhabitants per square kilometer. In these circumstances the human rights of the population would be seriously affected. In this regard, the Attorney for the Defense of Human Rights (PDDH), in a recent statement said: “The harmful effects of mining activity constitute serious violations of the human rights of the population. Among them is the right to life, health, water and food. The concern persists because the mining industry still has an interest in developing its projects in the country and there is no legislation or institutional mechanisms to guarantee the protection of the environment against mining activity.”

The interest of the mining industry to which the PDDH refers to is manifested in a series of actions carried out by the mining company Oceana Gold, which MOVIAC has repeatedly denounced. For instance, in a letter delivered to the Legislative Assembly on November 24, 2016, MOVIAC states: “We know that in all the impoverished countries of the world, transnational mining companies use the same strategies: division of communities, murder of environmentalists, bribing corrupt officials and false media campaigns such as the promises of job creation and social development. The truth is that mining does not generate more jobs than it destroys. Where there is mining there is no agriculture, there is no livestock, there is no tourism, there is no health, there are no peaceful or free communities.”

For all these reasons at the moment, in El Salvador there is a strong debate about the need to pass a law that definitively prohibits metal mining.


El Salvador Debate la Prohibición de la Minería Metálica

En el año 2002 la corporación canadiense Pacific Rim se registró en El Salvador, invitada por el gobierno, para explotar el potencial del país en cuanto a oro y  plata. Desde el inicio en sus exploraciones, la minera identificó al menos 25 sitios propicios para la extracción de oro, uno de estos es el lugar conocido como  El Dorado, en el departamento de Cabañas. En Diciembre de 2004 la empresa solicitó formalmente el permiso de explotación de la mina El Dorado, el gobierno negó el permiso por inconsistencias en el estudio de impacto ambiental y porque la empresa no contaba con la autorización de los propietarios de las tierras en donde se realizaría la explotación del oro y la plata.

Ante la negativa del gobierno salvadoreño de no conceder el permiso de explotación del proyecto El Dorado,  en julio de 2008Pacific Rim inicia una demanda contra el Estado salvadoreño, en El Centro Internacional de Arreglo de Diferencias Relativas a Inversiones (CIADI) del Banco Mundial.

La petición pedía que el Estado salvadoreño le pagara $77 millones de dólares, por el monto invertido antes de que se le negara la autorización de explotación, más tarde esta exigencia fue incrementada a $ 301 millones y finalmente se redujo a $ 250 millones. A finales de  2013, Pacific Rim se declaró en quiebra y vendió sus acciones a la transnacional Australiana Oceana Gold, quien continuó el proceso de demanda.

Después de un largo litigio, el 14 de octubre de 2016, el tribunal internacional falló a favor del Estado salvadoreño y en contra de la empresa minera. El veredicto también determinó que la empresa deberá indemnizar con 8 millones de dólares al gobierno salvadoreño para cubrir los costos procesales del litigio.

A raíz de este fallo, el 24 de noviembre de 2016 el Movimiento de Víctimas y Afectados por el Cambio Climático y Corporaciones MOVIAC, presentó un escrito a la Asamblea Legislativa solicitando la prohibición de la minería metálica en el país. Está petición abrió un intenso debate que cada vez está cobrando más fuerza. El 6 de febrero la Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, UCA y la Iglesia Católica presentaron una propuesta de ley de prohibición de la minería metálica.

La solicitud de prohibición se justifica por los graves impactos sociales y ecológicos que ocasiona la industria minera y por el alto grado de contaminación y deterioro ambiental que ya sufre el país. Según expertos internacionales El Salvador es el país del continente con mayor deterioro ambiental, después de Haití. Las Naciones Unidas ha calificado a El Salvador como el país con menos disponibilidad de agua de todo el continente, y el Ministerio de Medio Ambiente ha informado que más del 90% de las agua superficiales están seriamente contaminadas y que sólo el 10%  son aptas para potabilizar por medios convencionales.

Esta situación de crisis hídrica podría ser mucho más grave si se concretan proyectos de explotación de oro y plata ubicados en la cuenca del río Lempa, que es el río más importante del país, su cuenca comprende el 50% del territorio nacional, en donde habita el 70% de la población del país.

El Salvador es el único país de Centroamérica que no posee explotación de minerales y en una encuesta de opinión realizada por la Universidad Centroamericana UCA,  en junio de 2015, el 76% de la población está en contra de la apertura de proyectos mineros; no obstante se tiene gran presión de empresas transnacionales para iniciar proyectos de extracción de oro y plata, ya que según la exploraciones realizada por la empresa Pacific Rim, en el subsuelo de la zona norte del país existe un aproximado de 1.2 millones de onzas de oro de alta pureza y más de  7.5 millones de onzas de plata. Además de otras 558 mil onzas de oro y 1.2 millones de plata de menor calidad.

En apariencia esto es algo bueno; sin embargo, la experiencia en países vecinos como Guatemala y Honduras demuestra lo dañina que es la industria minera para las personas y para el medio ambiente, especialmente en el recurso hídrico. Según una publicación de la Universidad Centroamericana, UCA la mina Marlín, en Guatemala utiliza unos 6 millones de litros de agua por día, las comunidades que viven cerca reportan 40 pozos comunales secos en los ocho años de operaciones de la mina; así mismo en la región Valle de Siria en Honduras la mina San Martín en nueve años de operaciones ha secado 19 de los 23 ríos originales de la zona.

Estas afectaciones podrían ser peores en El Salvador, por la fragilidad de sus ecosistemas y por la densidad poblacional cercana a los 300 habitantes por kilómetro cuadrado, en estas circunstancias los derechos humanos de la población serían gravemente afectados. Al respecto la Procuraduría para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, en un comunicado reciente expresó que: “los efectos nocivos de la actividad minera constituyen graves violaciones a los derechos humanos de la población; entre estos al derecho a la vida, a la salud, al agua y a la alimentación. La preocupación persiste porque aún concurre el interés de la industria minera de desarrollar sus proyectos en el país y no se cuenta con una legislación  ni mecanismos institucionales que garanticen la protección del medio ambiente ante la actividad minera”

El interés de la industria minera al que hace referencia la PDDH se manifiesta en una serie de acciones que lleva a cabo la empresa minera Oceana Gold, las cuales el Movimiento de Víctimas y Afectados por e Cambio Climático y as Corporaciones, MOVIAC ha denunciado en reiterada ocasiones, por ejemplo en una carta entregada a la Asamblea Legislativa el 24 de noviembre de 2016, el MOVIAC expone: “Conocemos que en todos los países empobrecidos del mundo, las transnacionales mineras emplean las mismas estrategias: división de las comunidades, asesinato de ambientalistas, compra de funcionarios corruptos y campañas mediáticas mentirosas como lo son las promesas de generación de empleo y de desarrollo social. La verdad es que la minería no genera más empleo que el que destruye, donde hay minería no hay agricultura, no hay ganadería, no hay turismo, no hay salud, no hay comunidades pacíficas ni libres”.

Por todas estas razones en el momento actual, en El  Salvador se debate fuertemente la necesidad de aprobar una ley que prohíba definitivamente la minería metálica.

agriculture, Climate Change, Corruption, Economy, El Salvador Government

Carlos Rosario School Returns to El Salvador with New Delegates

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Voices had the pleasure of hosting a delegation from Carlos Rosario, a public charter school for adult immigrants in Washington, D.C. Seven of their staff came down to El Salvador, where a majority of students are from, in order to learn about the country and better understand their students’ roots. The delegates’ objective was to explore the broad reality of Salvadoran culture, economics and education as well as the dynamic effects that migration has on individuals, families and communities.

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After receiving a detailed explanation of the people’s history of El Salvador, they met with the Vice Minister of Education, Teacher’s Union Leaders, a human rights defender, visited the National Cathedral, the UCA, toured the Museum of Words and Images and bought a lot of good reads at Equipo Maiz. Then they traveled to Morazán where they talked with the pastoral team of Community Segundo Montes about the 9 years they’d spent in the refugee camps in Colomoncagua, Honduras. They got a thorough overview of the civil war at the Museum of Revolution in Perquin and reflected heavily after visiting El Mozote. In the lower Lempa River region, they stayed with hosts families in Amando Lopez and experienced life in agriculture based communities there and along the coast. They visited with local community leaders and teachers to hear their perspectives on development and education in the region, they donated much needed supplies to three separate schools and before it was all done they taught a class!

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The group was delightful. They asked great questions, covered a lot of ground, offered helpful suggestions, participated in meaningful dialogue and gave a gift to nearly everyone they met.

Carlos Rosario, thank you and keep up the good work in D.C.  |  READ THEIR BLOG!

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