News Highlights, Quarterly Report

Our First Quarterly Report of 2019

Click below to read the report!

1-3_19 coverfoto

education, Public Health, Sexual and Reproductive Health, youth

Evaluating the ECHO Model in the Bajo Lempa

The training portion of Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) came to an end last month with the second and final session of Bajo Lempa participants being certified as Sexual and Reproductive Health educators by a group of medical professionals from the University of New Mexico. In total, 41 teachers and 17 community health promoters participated in the program.

Over the last two weeks we had the pleasure of hosting Nutritionist, Grace Palm and Gynecologist, Hannah Palm; the two health education consultants from UNM. Since the beginning, these two young doctors have showed nothing but dedication and proved vital in the development of ECHO materials and as facilitators during the video trainings. They came to visit the communities, conduct in-person focus studies and sit in on some of the classes being replicated during their stay.

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Two groups of teachers, one group of health promoters and one group of school administrators participated in the focus studies where conversations were constructive, collaborative and full of ideas for the future. The classes they observed were well prepared and well taught and most teachers adapted ECHO’s methodology to fit their own group dynamics.

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Jose Acosta, VOICES’ director expressed during the final evaluation with school administrators, “If this proves a successful method to adequately capacitate those who’s role it is to impart such programs, the goal to ultimately implement the ECHO model into the education curriculum can be realized.

The two with their host family and VOICES’ executive director.

Photos of classes being reproduced in schools and communities:


education, youth, Youth Development

Ending Illiteracy Through Intergenerational Teaching

WhatsApp Image 2019-03-11 at 20.04.17

We are very excited to share with you a new educational program in the Bajo Lempa that seeks to raise the literacy rates in Community Octavio Ortiz.

This literacy program is in coordination with the Community Board of Directors, the Ministry of Education (MINED) and Voices on the Border; who are managing and  finincing the program with funds donated by Arlene Schaupp, a long-time supporter of VOICES who remains in solidarity with the Salvadoran people.

Eleven students from the same community, in their third cycle of schooling (grades 10-12), are the ones facilitating the classes for the adults and seniors, using material provided by MINED. For the next three months, these young people will work with their elders for two hours a day, from Monday to Friday with one goal in mind:

Declare the community free of illiteracy!

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delegation, Uncategorized, Voices Developments

2019 Board of Directors Delegation Highlights

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:

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In Morazán :

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In the Bajo Lempa

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At the end of the delegation we took a detour and hiked in Cerro Verde, an extinct Volcano in Santa Ana.

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CLICK HERE to read what one board member wrote.




Version Español

On February 3, El Salvador held presidential elections for the sixth time after the Peace Accords. In the electoral competition, the following seven political parties and four candidates participated:

  • José Alvarado of the VAMOS party, recently legalized in 2017
  • Hugo Martínez of the FMLN party
  • Carlos Callejas, for a coalition composed of 4 right-wing parties, led by ARENA
  • Nayib Bukele, the candidate for GANA, also a right wing party

According to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), the highest Salvadoran authority in electoral matters, the preliminary scrutiny showed the following results:

  • VAMOS party: 20,473 votes, or 0.38% of the total votes
  • FMLN: 377,404, or 14.42% of the total votes
  • ARENA coalition: 831,726 votes, or 31.77% of the total votes
  • GANA: 1,388,009 votes, or 53.02% of the total votes

Based on these results, Nayib Bukele has become the President-elect of El Salvador. A relatively young man who claims to have no ideology, Nayib is the leader and founder of the political party New Ideas, with which he was unable to compete, because it was hardly organized and legalized in 2018, when the deadlines to participate in the presidential election of 2019, had already expired.

According to a publication in the digital newspaper El Faro, Bukele used widespread dissatisfaction with the two major parties and exacerbated it in a strategy that used social networks as its main platform. Bukele, appeared on the county’s political stage just six years ago, when he won – as an FMLN candidate – the Mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán, where he managed to gain notoriety despite being a municipality without major symbolic relevance in the public exercise of power. He was subsequently promoted to govern San Salvador, the country’s capital. While he was mayor of San Salvador, he was expelled from the FMLN party due to the constant public disagreements he had with his party.

In his first public appearance as a winning candidate, Bukele highlighted his triumph over the traditional parties and said that with his victory the post-war period has ended, expressing: “We were governed by the two post-war parties, the one on the right and the former guerrillas. This day the country has turned the page from the postwar period and now we can begin to see the future”. In a way, it is a reasonable approach, considering that since the signing of the Peace Accords, the main actors of El Salvador’s party politics have been ARENA and the FMLN who governed for 30 years.

However, this new page in the history of El Salvador, to which Bukele refers, augurs a complicated panorama since the country faces serious problems, such as: an unstoppable violence that during 2018 resulted in 3,328 homicides; a fiscal deficit of more than 1 billion dollars per year, with the aggravating circumstance that between 2019 and 2024 the country must pay $2,457.7 million as part of the debt; a deep environmental crisis that is evidenced by the shortage of drinking water and a migratory phenomenon that is constantly increasing.

Facing these difficulties will require a great capacity for dialogue and cooperation, especially in the Legislative Assembly and during the first two years Bukele will have to govern with a Parliament full of opponentsHe is not even guaranteed the support of the 10 deputies of GANA, the party with which he won the elections, but some analysts predict that sooner or later he will separate himself from that party and will govern under the banner of his own party, New ideas.

If this hypothesis is fulfilled, governability could be even more difficult than it has been for the FMLN, considering that New Ideas is a recent party with scarce political experience, without territorial organization and that also does not have the necessary mutual understanding with the different sectors of society to promote the structural transformations that the country requires.


El pasado 3 de febrero El Salvador realizó elecciones presidenciales, por sexta ocasión después de los Acuerdo de Paz. En la contienda participaron 7 partidos políticos y 4 candidatos: José Alvarado con el partido VAMOS, apenas constituido en 2017; Hugo Martínez del partido FMLN; Carlos Callejas, por una coalición integrada por 4 partidos de derecha, liderada por ARENA y Nayib Bukele como candidato del partido GANA, también de derecha.

Según El Tribunal Supremo Electoral, la máxima autoridad salvadoreña en asuntos electorales, el escrutinio preliminar arrojó los siguientes resultados: El partido VAMOS obtuvo un total de 20,473 votos, correspondiente al 0.38% del total de votos válidos; mientras que el FMLN logró 377,404, es decir el 14.42%; por su parte la coalición representada por ARENA obtuvo un total de 831,726 votos, lo que constituye el 31.77% de la votación; el partido GANA alcanzó 1,388,009 votos, correspondiente al 53.02%

Con estos resultados Nayib Bukele se convierte en el Presidente electo de El Salvador, Un hombre relativamente joven que dice no tener ideología y quien es líder y fundador del partido político Nuevas Ideas, con el cual no le fue posible competir, debido a que apenas fue organizado y legalizado en 2018, cuando los plazos para participar en la elección presidencial de 2019, ya habían expirado.

Según una publicación del periódico digital El Faro, Bukele se valió del descontento generalizado hacia los dos partidos mayoritarios y lo exacerbó en una estrategia que usó las redes sociales como su principal plataforma. Bukele, tiene apenas seis años de haber aparecido en la vida política del país, cuando ganó –como candidato del FMLN– la Alcaldía de Nuevo Cuscatlán, donde se las arregló para cobrar notoriedad pese a tratarse de un municipio sin mayor relevancia simbólica en el ejercicio público. Posteriormente fue promovido como candidato de la capital. Mientras ocupaba el cargo de alcalde de San Salvador fue expulsado del FMLN debido a las constantes discrepancias públicas que sostuvo con su partido.

En su primer aparición pública como candidato ganador Bukele resaltó su triunfo frente a los partidos tradicionales y dijo que con su victoria finaliza la pos guerra, expresado de la siguiente forma: “Fuimos gobernados por los dos partidos de la posguerra, el de la derecha y al de la ex guerrilla. Este día el país ha pasado la página de la posguerra y ahora podemos comenzar a ver al futuro”. De cierta manera es un planteamiento razonable, considerando que desde la firma de los Acuerdos de Paz, los actores principales de la política partidaria de El Salvador han sido ARENA y el FMLN quienes gobernaron durante 30 años.

No obstante, esa nueva página en la historia de El Salvador, a la que hace referencia Bukele augura un panorama complicado ya que el país enfrenta graves problemas, como por ejemplo: Una violencia imparable que durante 2018 dejó un saldo de 3,328 homicidios; un déficit fiscal de más de 1,000 millones de dólares anuales, con el agravante que entre los años 2019 y 2024 el país debe pagar  $2,457.7 millones como parte de la deuda; una profunda crisis ambiental que se manifiesta principalmente con la escasez de agua potable y un fenómeno migratorio en constante incremento.

Enfrentar estas dificultades va a requerir una gran capacidad de dialogo y concertación, sobre todo en la Asamblea Legislativa  y durante los primeros dos años Bukele tendrá que gobernar con un Parlamento lleno de opositores, ni siquiera tiene garantizado el respaldo de los 10 diputados de GANA, el partido con el que ganó las elecciones, pero que algunos analistas vaticinan que más temprano que tarde se va a separar de dicho partido y va a gobernar bajo la bandera de su propio partido, Nuevas Ideas.

De cumplirse esta hipótesis la gobernabilidad podría ser aún más difícil de lo que ha sido para el FMLN, considerando que Nuevas Ideas es un partido reciente con escaza experiencia política,  sin organización territorial y que además no cuenta con el entendimiento necesario con los diferentes sectores de la sociedad para impulsar las transformaciones estructurales que el país requiere.


News Highlights, women & girls

Imelda es Libre!

December 17, 2018
Jiquilisco, Usulután, El Salvador

Salvadoran judge Hugo Noé García, overturned an attempted murder charge, carrying a 20 year sentence, by the district attorney’s office in Usulután against Imelda Cortez, who then at 19-years-old, experienced a traumatic labor which caused her to loose consciousness and give birth to her baby in a latrine.
The baby girl survived and is in good health and Imelda spent 609 days in prison.

Her 71-year-old stepfather, Pablo Dolores Henríquez Ayala, who after 7 years of assaulting her, impregnated her, has been prosecuted for aggravated and continued rape of a minor. This after he himself gave accusatory testimony to the national police about his step-daughter on the day of the incident.

The judge recognized the mental and physical stress Imelda must have endured before, during and after giving birth to the newborn and lamented over the fact that she was denied access to not only her baby but the therapeutic care she desperately needed in order to heal from the long-term psychological damage that had been inflicted on her.

Since it was put forth, the case has been contested in the international court of public opinion and, due to the full-scale feminist movement in El Salvador and beyond, Imelda has receive top-notch legal representation, international media coverage and diplomatic support.

The morning of the 18th, Imelda and her defense team were prepared to accept a reduced sentenced of one year, time served, in exchange for pleading guilty to the prosecution’s lesser change of “abandoning a newborn.” However the judge, in an astonishing move, over-tuned the ruling four hours after the session began.

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Hundreds of supporters gathered outside of the courthouse on Monday to support Imelda and chants of “si se puede!” rang out as she was led out.