2020 has been a whirlwind year and we want to share it with you.
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Más que por cualquier otro fenómeno, la historia de El Salvador está configurada por el conflicto por la tierra, originado por el carácter dual de la producción agrícola, para el comercio de exportación y a la vez para la subsistencia. Fortalecido por políticas gubernamentales que han facilitado la concentración de la propiedad de la tierra en un reducido sector económicamente poderoso, mediante procesos de expropiación y desplazamiento de la población indígena y campesina.
En este sentido, la agricultura salvadoreña adolece de problemas estructurales que tienen a la base un modelo económico excluyente de sectores productivos mayoritarios, como el de la agricultura campesina. Lo que ha llevado a la mayoría de familias rurales a subsistir en condiciones realmente difíciles, con limitado acceso a la tierra y a otros recursos productivos. La expansión del monocultivo de caña de azúcar y el uso indiscriminado de agroquímicos amplifican las dificultades.
La baja productividad agrícola del país ha generado dependencia extrema de alimentos importados, esta condición, sumada a la pobreza, profundizan la problemática alimentaria, que ya presenta índices preocupantes de subalimentación, desnutrición, retardo en crecimiento y anemia, especialmente en niños y niñas. Esta realidad aleja al Estado salvadoreño de los objetivos del derecho humano a la alimentación y de la seguridad alimentaria y nutricional.
En este contexto los conceptos de Soberanía Alimentaria y Agroecología constituyen alternativas transformadoras. Trabajar por estos propósitos es, ante todo, una cuestión de sobrevivencia, de dignidad y autonomía. Como exhortaba el pensador y poeta cubano José Martí: “Un pueblo que no consigue producir sus propios alimentos, es un pueblo esclavo.” Sobre estos y otros temas relevantes de la realidad agrícola y alimentaria de El Salvador, trata nuestro último trabajo. Elaborado con toda la rigurosidad técnica, por la profesora universitaria y socióloga María Inés Dávila y nuestro Director Ejecutivo, José Acosta.
VOCES, tiene la expectativa que este documento sea útil a las comunidades, organizaciones de base, organizaciones no gubernamentales y movimientos sociales, que luchan por el acceso a la tierra, la soberanía alimentaria y el derecho humano a la alimentación. Invitamos a leerlo y compartirlo.
Agriculture and Food in El Salvador
More than any other phenomenon, the history of El Salvador is shaped by it’s conflict over land, originated by the dual nature of agricultural production for export trade and at the same time for subsistence. Strengthened by government policies that have facilitated the concentration of land ownership in an economically powerful reduced sector, through processes of expropriation and displacement of the indigenous and peasant population.
In this sense, Salvadoran agriculture suffers from structural problems that are based on an economic model that excludes the majority of productive sectors, such as peasant agriculture, what has led most rural families to endure really difficult conditions, with limited access to land and other productive resources. The expansion of sugarcane monoculture and the indiscriminate use of agrochemicals amplify these difficulties.
The low agricultural productivity of the country has generated extreme dependence on imported food, this, added to poverty, deepens the food crisis, which already presents worrying rates of undernourishment, malnutrition, growth retardation and anemia, especially in boys and girls. This reality distances the Salvadoran state from the objectives of the human right to food and food and nutrition security.
In this context, the concepts of Food Sovereignty and Agroecology constitute transformative alternatives. Working for these purposes is, above all, a question of survival, dignity and autonomy. As the Cuban thinker and poet José Martí exhorted: “A people cannot be free if they do not produce their own food.” Prepared with technical rigor by the university professor and sociologist María Inés Dávila and our Executive Director, José Acosta, our latest investigative report deals with these and other relevant issues surrounding the agricultural and food reality of El Salvador.
VOICES hopes that this document will be useful to communities, grassroots organizations, non-governmental organizations and social movements that fight for access to land, food sovereignty and the human right to food. We invite you to read and share it.
MOVING FORWARD, ALWAYS
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March 19, 2020
El Salvador, like many countries around the world, is reeling from the effects of COVID19. To clamp down on the spread of the virus, on March 15th, the government declared a state of emergency and approved a partial suspension of constitutional rights. What does that look like?
- Foreigners are prohibited from entering the country by land, air or sea. All who enter illegally or legally are subject to a mandatory quarantine in a government run facility.
- All educational activities are suspended, private and public.
- Crowd sizes exceeding fifty people, such as concerts or sporting events are canceled.
- All bars, cafes and discos are closed; restaurants can only offer delivery or take out.
- Trade will continue normally. Commercial activities will remain unchanged, including imports and exports, under the proper sanitary control at customs.
- People are told to shelter in place and only venture out if truly necessary.
On March 18th, El Salvador registered it’s first single confirmed case of the virus, from a Salvadoran returning from Italy, who defied the barrier the President put in place around the perimeter of the country. Because of citizen denouncements, he was picked up and tested positive for the virus and subsequently the entire municipality of Metapan, in the department of Santa Ana has been cordoned off for the next 48 hours in an effort to find his line of infection.
Impacts on the Salvadoran Society
The majority of the population has reacted with panic, no matter how many calls for calm are made. Supermarkets are crowded and supplies are beginning to become scarce, partly because there is hoarding and price inflations. For example in some places bottled water is selling for three times its normal price.
Bukele has said that the department of labor will do what it can to make sure employers and workers are economically supported during the quarantine, but every hour labor abuses are being called out via social media of workers being indiscriminately laid, off, mistreated or made to work when they aren’t supposed to.
The sectors most economically impacted by this national quarantine are the service industry, domestic workers, day laborers, street vendors, factory and sweatshop workers. Also affected are those Salvadoran families who already live in El Salvador’s precarious situation of water shortage. For young girls and women who face abuse at home, the situation of isolation becomes even more serious. It encourages victim control and greater submission of the victim.
Impacts on VOICES’ work
VOICES, like other NGOs, is having to adapt to these measures. For example, this situation forced us to cancel the annual South Bay Sanctuary Covenant delegation this March, as well as suspend the special delegation of teachers from Amando López to the United States in April.
Likewise, the SBSC fundraising event scheduled for April 26 in California, at which our director was to speak, was canceled.
Also with the suspension of classes the reproduction phase of the ECHO project workshops in Morazán is on hold; likewise, some community activities, workshops and meetings.
It’s safe to say that human rights don’t simply go away because of a national quarantine, and neither will VOICES’ commitment to accompanying our local partners as best as we can. As an organization, VOICES’ staff are adhering to the rules put in place by working from home.
This involves catching up on programming materials and fine tuning our evaluation frameworks, but we are also finding other ways to support our partners in the following ways:
Women’s Network of Morazán (9 municipalities served)
– Providing 15 canasta basicas for the Network’s most vulnerable members and their families.
Amando Lopez grade school (9 communities served)
– While some students may enjoy the meal provided by the school, other families may see it as a lifeline. The school’s staff compiled a list of 88 students who are most at risk from malnutrition and we will work with them to find the best way to help feed these kids during the quarantine.
Youth Development Association of Morazán (3 communities served)
– This inspiring youth group has had to cancel all of their programming including their special activities, community events, workshops and schools like their school of nutrition, which not only serves as a means to teach recipes, but also supports families’ ability to practice food sovereignty through the family farms component. We will work with AJUDEM to ensure that those most affected will have access to plants, seeds and compost to keep their farms growing.
El Salvador is a resilient country full of ingenuity and as long as we continue to practice true solidarity, we will all be able to come out of this pandemic with heads high and the prospect for a brighter more sustainable future.
The VOICES Team
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We’ve put together some of our highlights from the last 12 months.
2019 ANNUAL WORK REPORT
Voices on the Border staff couldn’t do what we do without the confidence and support of our amazing U.S. Board of Directors. They are a diverse cadre of talented people with historical links to El Salvador and each year they come they strengthen these familiar bonds of solidarity, the very reason for VOICES’ existence. Below are some of the highlights from this year’s delegation held in January.
In San Salvador:
In Morazán :
In the Bajo Lempa
At the end of the delegation we took a detour and hiked in Cerro Verde, an extinct Volcano in Santa Ana.
CLICK HERE to read what one board member wrote.
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.