News Highlights, romero

SAN ROMERO: Ayer, Hoy y Siempre

SAINT ROMERO: Yesterday, Today and Forever

web3-oscar-romero-procession-march-el-salvador-000_was7371671-jose-cabezas-afpOn this date, 38 years ago, the Archbishop of El Salvador was assassinated while giving mass in his own chapel by right wing forces opposed to the people’s revolution of the 1980s. Romero was not a subversive, nor a communist, but one of the greatest examples of a Christian that one can be. READ MORE.

Every year, on and around this date, thousands of Salvadorans and thousands throughout the world commemorate his martyrdom with marches, special masses and prayer ceremonies. Young children are taught about him while the elderly reminisce about his radios sermons that would be transmitted via short and long wave frequencies. His voice and his words helped multitudes during and after the bloody civil war in El Salvador heal and keep moving onward towards the peace that they and he aspired for.

He is, indeed, the World’s Saint and today we commemorate his fierce love amidst times of great hate.

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“Sabemos que todo esfuerzo por mejorar una sociedad, sobre todo cuando está tan metida esa injusticia y el pecado, es un esfuerzo que Dios bendice, que Dios quiere, que Dios nos exige.”
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Agua/Aqua, Climate Change, Environment, Food Security, Water/Agua

The Power of Water


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Versión Español

On December 22, 1992, the General Assembly of the United Nations decreed that World Water Day would be held every March 22. This important date it is an opportunity to learn about water and to value its importance in nature and in society.

In countries such as El Salvador, World Water Day is also a date to inspire civil society’s struggle for the human right to water, considering that it is facing a profound water crisis. According to the Environmental Fund of El Salvador (FONAES), El Salvador is the only country in the Central American region that is close to experiencing a situation of water stress, which places it among the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean with the lowest availability of water per inhabitant, like Haiti.

The main cause of this crisis is the destruction of the forest and biodiversity; the clearing of wooded areas has been a ruthless and systematic practice. Many places that produced clean water and fresh air are now thick layers of asphalt and concrete. The few forest areas left in El Salvador make up only 1% of the Central American forest.

Another cause of the water crisis is the pollution of the rivers and in general of the sources of surface water. This level of degradation of these sources, both underground and superficial, has to do with historical processes of overexploitation of natural resources for capital accumulation purposes, facilitated by the negligence of the State.

This environmental anarchy has resulted in water currently being a source of conflict because companies and communities dispute the little clean water that remains. Such is the case of the municipality of Nejapa, which has one of the main aquifers in the country and for this reason companies like Coca Cola has set up shop there. According to the researcher and environmental activist Marta Muños, the Coca Cola company extracts 15% of all Nejapa’s water without paying any kind of tax. The saddest part of this case is that while this company commits this abuse, hundreds of families surrounding the factory do not have access to water.

A similar situation occurs with large-scale sugarcane growers on the Salvadoran coast, who install powerful engines to extract exorbitant quantities of water from the subsoil to irrigate large areas of monoculture, while small farmers themselves lack water for their small plots.

This all could change with the approval of a General Water Law, a law that for more than 10 years various civil society organizations have been proposing and demanding, in order to ensure the priority in the use of water is the consumption of the population and not the business of large companies. This conflicting interest has been the apple of discord that has prevented enacting said law. The best evidence of this comes from the president of the National Association of Private Enterprise (ANEP), who recently said: “The Water Law is dangerous because it violates the rights of companies.”

But in reality, it is about putting things in their order of priority. Under no circumstances should transnational corporations be allowed to appropriate water. Defending water is defending life. Just as the communities of Nejapa are fighting against the transnational Coca Cola company, so to are the communities of Cabañas, opposed to the Pacific Rim mining company.

Apparently, the only limit to the greed of these transnational companies is the resistance of the people and there exists nothing better than water to inspire a rebellion. That is the power of water.



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El Poder del Agua

El 22 de diciembre de 1992, la Asamblea General de Las Naciones Unidas decretó que cada 22 de marzo se celebraría el Día Mundial del Agua, fecha importante porque constituye una oportunidad para aprender sobre el agua y valorar su importancia en la naturaleza y en la sociedad.

En países como El Salvador el Día Mundial del Agua también es una fecha para inspirar la lucha de la sociedad civil por el derecho humano al agua, considerando que se enfrenta una profunda crisis hídrica. Según el Fondo Ambiental de El Salvador, FONAES, es el único país en la región centroamericana que se encuentra cercano a una situación de estrés hídrico, lo que lo sitúa entre los países de Latinoamérica y el Caribe con más baja disponibilidad de agua por habitante.

La principal causa es la destrucción del bosque y la biodiversidad; la tala de zonas boscosas ha sido una práctica despiadada y sistemática, muchos lugares que producían agua limpia y aire fresco ahora son gruesas capas de asfalto y concreto. Las pocas áreas forestales de El Salvador apenas constituye el 1% del bosque centroamericano.

Otra causa de la crisis hídrica es la contaminación de los ríos y en general de las fuentes superficiales de agua. Este nivel de degradación de las fuentes, tanto subterráneas como superficiales, tiene que ver con procesos históricos de sobreexplotación de los recursos naturales con fines de acumulación de capital, facilitados por la negligencia del Estado.

Esta anarquía ambiental ha resultado en que en la actualidad el agua sea fuente de conflicto, porque la poca agua existente la disputan las empresas y las comunidades, tal es el caso del municipio de Nejapa que posee uno de los principales acuíferos del país y que por esta razón empresas como la Coca Cola se ha instalado en el lugar, según la investigadora y activista ambiental Marta Muños la empresa Coca Cola extrae el 15% de toda el agua del municipio, sin pagar ningún tipo de impuesto, lo más triste de este caso es que mientras dicha empresa comete este abuso, cientos de familias aledañas a la fabrica, no tienen acceso al agua.

Similar situación ocurre con los cultivadores de caña de azúcar en la costa salvadoreña, que instalan potentes motores para extraer del subsuelo cantidades exorbitantes de agua para riego de grandes extensiones del monocultivo, al mismo tiempo que los agricultores carecen de agua para sus pequeñas parcelas.

Esta realidad podría ser diferente de aprobarse una Ley General de Agua que por más de 10 años diversas organizaciones de la sociedad civil han venido proponiendo y exigiendo, una ley que asegure que la prioridad en el uso del agua sea el consumo de la población y no el negocio de las grandes empresas, este interés contrapuesto ha sido la manzana de la discordia que ha impedido promulgar dicha ley. La mejor evidencia es que recientemente el presidente de la Asociación Nacional de la Empresa Privada, ANEP expresó: “La Ley de Agua es peligrosa porque atenta contra los derechos de las empresas”.

Pero en realidad de lo que se trata es de poner las cosas en su orden de prioridad. bajo ninguna circunstancia se debe permitir que las empresas transnacionales se apropien del agua, defender el agua es defender la vida. Así como lo está haciendo la comunidad de Nejapa luchando contra la transnacional Coca cola, o como lo hicieron las comunidades de Cabañas oponiéndose a la minera Pacific Rim.

Al parecer, el único límite a la codicia de estas empresas transnacionales es la resistencia de los pueblos y nada mejor que el agua para inspirar la rebeldía… Ese es el poder del agua.

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education, Youth Development

Introducing the Young Scholars Program

Joseal Adonay, a gifted young man from El Chile, a rural mangrove community in Jiquilisco, Usulután, is determined to lift himself and his family out of extreme poverty. His goal, which he has already begun, is to obtain an accounting degree from the National Technical Institute in Jiquilisco.

Over the next 30 days, we will be hosting a scholarship fundraiser, which we hope to entice you, our dear supporter, to donate to. Join Voices on the Border as we continue seeking new ways to assist the young people in our communities breathe life into their aspirations of higher education and dignified work by making a donation to the Young Scholars Program today.

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For more information or to make a donation, visit the Young Scholars Program.

Corruption, violence, women & girls

Marielle Franco was Murderd by the State for her Human Rights Work in Brazil

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We lament in the assassination of Marielle Franco, an Afro-Brazilian sociologist and politician gunned down in Rio de Janeiro the night of March 14th by masked men while sitting in a car with her driver, who was also killed in the attack. Marielle was a prolific activist, a hard-hitting politician and constant voice for the impoverished.

Marielle grew up in favela in northern Rio de Janeiro, and became a rising luminary in activism and politics, a rare status for a black woman from a marginalized community. In 2016, she was elected as a member of the left-leaning Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) known for her social work with the poor and marginalized, and for her outspokenness against police violence disproportionately targeting black Brazilians.

Hours before her murder, during a panel discussion on women’s empowerment, she uttered the quote by Audre Lorde: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

Her cowardly murder has taken place two years and 10 days after the execution of Berta Cáceres, a Honduran environmental activist killed by Honduran state actors.

We stand in solidarity with the tens of thousands of protesters in Brazil and around the world and denounce this obvious state-sanctioned slaying and demand justice for Marielle Franco, justice for Berta Cáceres and for the hundreds of land, environmental and human rights activists needlessly slain by their own states over the past decade.

Marielle, rest in power.

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Protesting the assassination of Marielle Franco, Rio de Janeiro

#MariellePresente    #NiUnMenos    #VivasNosQueremos    #JusticiaParaMarielleFranco

Equality, Uncategorized, women & girls

Protecting and Preventing Acts of Violence Against Women in Morazán

El Salvador’s recently held mid-term elections on March 4, saw a staggering overturn of political power as right-wing parties overtook the senate and major municipal seats in San Salvador, La Libertad and Santa Ana; and much could be said about the ‘debacle.’ At the same time, human rights defenders and survivors are celebrating the exoneration and release of two Salvadoran women unjustly incarcerated in for miscarriages many years ago.

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Last year, El Salvador experienced 3,605 homicides, a 1,675 reduction from 2016. As multitudes rise up in outrage against the country’s oppressive justice system and high rate of gender-based violence, El Salvador continues to be one of the most dangerous countries to be a woman.

2017 National Statistics
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More troubling is that the factual number of violent cases against Salvadoran women and girls are most certainly much higher than the statistics represented above because victims do not report becasue of fear of retribution and impunity. It is important to note that the majority of these victims suffer abuse in their own homes at the hand of men most close to them.

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Silvia Juárez, program coordinator for the Organization of Salvadoran Women for Peace  in El Salvador (ORMUSA) stated that women “are still not equal. The profound root of violence against women is inequality. We are considered human beings of less value.” On the eve of International Women’s day, a vigil was held in San Salvador and on March 8, over 3,000 marchers took to the streets to protest the country’s widespread inequality and violence against women. Their demands were simple: dignity and respect for all women and reforms to the healthcare and judicial systems.

That same day in Morazán, 600 protestors marched through the streets of San Francisco Gotera, confronting important judicial courts and even the town hall, while chanting slogans like “We don’t want flowers, we want justice!”

In 2016, 176 cases of domestic violence and 72 acts of sexual violence were reported in Morazán. According to the Citizen Network of Morazán Women (the Network), though down from the 14 official reports in 2016, five cases of femicide were invisibilizedthis year. The Network consists of 8 municipal associations scattered throughout the department with the mutual objective of promoting and defending the human rights of women. They accomplish their goals through combining unity, education and protest.

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Gender-based violence is so prevalent in Morazán that it has led to the Network and other local organizations to begin to develop a community based approach to facilitate the recovery of victims and their families by educating communities and service providers, offering victims immediate and long-term support, and holding relevant  institutions accountable. Fortunately, this interrelationship of Morazán leaders exemplifies a support network of local women who can identify effective solutions to support victims of violence and their families in resource-constrained settings.

Click here for more information about the Network’s initiative and ways you can help.

The time is now.

Uncategorized

The Worldwide Political Shift is Mirrored in El Salvador

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Versión Español

On March 4, 2018 Salvadorans elected 84 Legislative Assembly members and 262 municipal leaders throughout the national territory.

Yesterday’s election is of transcendental importance for the country, mainly because the conformation of the new Legislative Assembly (2018–2021) will have, among its functions, to choose the Attorney General of the Republic, the Public Prosecutor and the Human Rights Ombudsman, as well as the president and judges of the General Accounting Office and the Supreme Court of Justice of the Republic. Furthermore, the elections were held one year shy of the presidential election and the results will influence the decision to elect the next president of El Salvador.

The preliminary count (with 70% of the votes processed) indicates that the FMLN will lose the election in almost all of the most important cities throughout the country, the first one being San Salvador, where the ARENA right-wing party has won 63,922 votes and the FMLN only 28,523. As regards to the vote to elect municipal leaders, on a national scale, the right-wing party has already garnered 618,458 votes, while FMLN has reached a total of 364,399. If the trend continues, the FMLN could obtain less than 28 leaders, thereby losing control of the qualified majority in the Legislative Assembly, which on this topic, an article published by El Faro expresses:

“If confirmed, the count of 27 deputies would mean for the Frente (FMLN) a 21 year retreat into history, to the same result they achieved in their second electoral participation after the war. In 1997, achieving that amount was a success that opened up their chances of achieving the presidency one day; now, after nine years in power and before (the party) Arena that in the last year has fettered successive internal crises, it is a resounding failure.”

Losing control of the qualified majority in the Legislative Assembly would mean serious complications for the last year of the government’s administration, but even more serious is that laws such as the prohibition of metallic mining could be reversed or others such as the General Water Law could be approved with the intention of privatization. Regarding this, José Santos Guevara, coordinator of MOVIAC, explains

“With the new political scenario that is approaching, the Legislative Assembly will take a 180 degree turn, in fact many of the advances in legislation can be reversed, as is the case of the law against mining. That means that for social organizations the struggle for laws in favor of the environment and human rights, becomes even more difficult.”

There are various interpretations on the causes of these results, the one that is heard most often is that it is due to the dissatisfaction of the population with the management of the FMLN government, in fact there was a strong abstention, although official data is not yet available, it is estimated that voter participation reached barely between 40% and 45%.

A renowned political analyst, Álvaro Artiga, who is a professor at the Central American University (UCA), believes that the number of votes obtained by ARENA is similar to those obtained in previous elections; however, many of the people who previously supported the FMLN did not vote. Rather than a victory of right-wing merits, it is a punishment of the FMLN from the population.

On behalf of FLMN’s leadership, there has been no statement on the results of the elections; the only one that has so far given statements to the press has been the President’s Communications Secretary, Eugenio Chicas, who said:

“People with a lot of hardness and with great clarity have given us a message that we should assume with humility: we probably made mistakes in listening to people,” “it is likely that enthralled in the exercise of power, emboldened in our own capacity for analysis we have not understood the voices of the people.”


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El Cambio Político Mundial se Refleja en El Salvador.

El pasado 4 de marzo los y las salvadoreñas eligieron a 84 diputados/as de la Asamblea Legislativa y a 262 jefes/as edilicios/as en todo el territorio nacional.

Dicha elección es de transcendental importancia para el país, principalmente porque la conformación de la nueva Asamblea Legislativa (2018-2021) tendrá entre sus funciones elegir al Fiscal General de la República, al Procurador General de la República y al Procurador para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, así como al presidente y los magistrados de la Corte de Cuentas de la República y de la Corte Suprema de Justicia. Además, estas elecciones se realizaron  a tan solo un año de la elección presidencial e indudablemente los actuales resultados van a influir en la decisión para elegir al próximo presidente de El Salvador.

El recuento preliminar (con el 70% de los votos procesados) apunta a que el FMLN perderá la elección en casi todas las ciudades más importantes del país, siendo la primera de ellas, San Salvador en donde el partido derechista ARENA contabiliza 63,922 votos y el FMLN 28,523. En lo que se refiere a la votación para elegir diputados, a escala nacional, el partido de derecha suma 618,458 votos, a diferencia del FMLN que ha alcanzado un total de 364,399. Si la tendencia se mantiene, el FMLN podría obtener menos de 28 diputados con lo que perdería el control de la mayoría calificada en la Asamblea Legislativa, sobre este tema, en un artículo publicado por El Faro se expresa:

“De confirmarse, la cifra de 27 diputados supondría para el Frente retroceder 21 años en la historia, al mismo resultado que alcanzaron en su segunda participación electoral después de la guerra. En 1997 lograr esa cifra fue un éxito que abría sus posibilidades de lograr algún día la presidencia; ahora, tras nueve años en el poder y ante una Arena que en el último año ha encadenado sucesivas crisis internas, es un contundente fracaso”.

Perder el control de la mayoría calificada en la Asamblea Legislativa significaría serias complicaciones para el último año de la gestión gubernamental, pero más grave aún es que podría revertirse leyes como la prohibición de la minería metálica o aprobarse otras como la Ley General de Aguas con una intención privatizadora, al respecto José Santos Guevara, coordinador del MOVIAC, expone

“Con el nuevo escenario político que se avecina la correlación en la Asamblea legislativa va dar un giro de 180 grados, con lo cual muchos de los avances en materia legislativa se pueden revertir, como es el caso de la ley contra la minería. Eso significa que para las organizaciones sociales la lucha por leyes a favor del medio ambiente, y de los derechos humanos, se vuelve aún más difícil”.

Sobre la causas de estos resultados existen diversas lecturas, la que se escucha con más frecuencia es que se debe a la inconformidad de la población con la gestión gubernamental del FMLN, de hecho hubo un fuerte abstencionismo, aunque aún no se dispone de datos oficiales, se estima que la participación en el proceso apenas pudo haber alcanzado entre un 40% a 45% de electores.

Un reconocido analista político, Álvaro Artiga, quien se desempeña como profesor en la Universidad Centroamericana, UCA  opina que la cantidad de votos obtenidos por ARENA es similar a los obtenidos en elecciones anteriores; sin embargo, esta vez la diferencia radica en que mucha de la gente que antes ha apoyado al FMLN, no fue a votar. Entonces más que una victoria por méritos de la derecha, es un castigo de la población al FMLN.

De parte de la dirigencia del FMLN no existe ningún pronunciamiento al respecto de los resultados de la elecciones, el único que hasta el momento ha dado declaraciones a la prensa ha sido el Secretario de Comunicaciones de la Presidencia, Eugenio Chicas, quien expresó:

“La gente con mucha dureza y con mucha claridad nos ha dado un mensaje que debemos asumir con humildad, probablemente nos equivocamos en saber escuchar a la gente,” “es probable que embelesados en el ejercicio del poder, envalentonados en nuestra propia capacidad de análisis no hayamos entendido las voces de la gente.”

Advocacy, Capacity Building, Uncategorized

First Workshop with Bajo Lempa leaders

WATCH The beginning of a ten month training course called the “School of Political and Ecological Formation” for Bajo Lempa community leaders in ACUDESBAL. Throughout the year, VOICES will facilitate these types of trainings to ensure our Salvadoran partner communities have the ability to advocate for important changes and get the results they deserve.

Stay connected this year via Facebook and YouTube!