Historical Memory, Liberation Theology, romero

Recordando a San Romero: 40 Años de Inspiración y Esperanza

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romero3Oscar Arnulfo Romero nació el 15 de agosto de 1917 en Ciudad Barrios, Departamento de San Miguel. Al terminar sus estudios básicos se dedicó al aprendizaje de carpintería y a la música. En 1930 a los trece años de edad, ingresó al seminario menor en San Miguel y luego, en 1937, se mudó a Roma donde terminó sus estudios teológicos en la Universidad Gregoriana, el día 4 de abril de 1942. Regresó a El Salvador en 1943, y fue asignado a la parroquia de Anamorós, un pueblo cerca de San Miguel. En 1966, es nombrado Secretario de la Conferencia de Obispos en El Salvador, cargo en el cual permaneció por once años. En 1970, es nombrado Obispo y el 3 de febrero de 1977, la Iglesia Católica en el Vaticano bajo el mando del Papa Pablo VI, lo nombró Arzobispo de San Salvador.

Durante los siguientes tres años se desempeñó como Arzobispo de San Salvador, por ese tiempo el país se embarcaba en una guerra civil, de las más sangrientas de América Latina. Uno de los hechos más dolorosos para Monseñor Romero fue el asesinato de su amigo, el sacerdote Rutilio Grande, tras el asesinato del padre Grande, Monseñor Romero se convierte un férreo defensor de los derechos humanos. Su incansable lucha en la defensa de los más pobres lo convirtió en una poderosa voz de denuncia contra la represión que sufría el pueblo, al punto de ser considerado “La Voz de los Sin Voz.”

Sus palabras siguen resonando:

“La persecución es algo necesario en la Iglesia. ¿Saben porqué? Porque la verdad siempre es perseguida.” (Homilía 29 -05-1977)

“Mi voz desaparecerá, pero mi palabra que es Cristo quedará en los
corazones que lo hayan querido acoger.” (Homilía 17-12-78)

“… Les suplico, les ruego, les ordeno en nombre de Dios: ¡cese la represión!” (Homilía 23-03-80)

“Es inconcebible que se diga a alguien cristiano y no tome como Cristo una opción preferencial por los pobres.” (Homilía 9-09-1979)

“Si me matan resucitaré en el pueblo salvadoreño.” (Marzo 1980)

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Su palabra y sus acciones como defensor de los pobres y oprimidos lo convirtieron en enemigo de los sectores más conservadores y de la dictadura militar que gobernaba el país, por lo que el 24 de marzo de 1980, mientras celebraba una misa, es asesinado de un certero disparo al corazón. Desde el momento de su muerte Monseñor Romero se convierte en un símbolo universal de la justicia y la paz. El 14 de octubre de 2018, Monseñor Romero fue Canonizado por el Papa Francisco; sin embargo, este hecho solo fue el reconocimiento formal de la iglesia, al pueblo que lo hizo Santo desde el momento de su asesinato.

Para el Movimiento de Comunidades Eclesiales de Base de El Salvador:
Monseñor Romero es grato a Dios porque desenmascaró la mentira histórica de aquel momento que hacía creer que la pobreza y la miseria de las mayorías era voluntad de Dios. Y confesó valientemente la verdad sobre el Dios que mandó a su Hijo Jesucristo a tomar una preferencia sin ambigüedades por los pobres. Así mismo, es el reconocimiento a la justeza de la lucha del pueblo salvadoreño por definir su propio destino.

Ahora, a 40 años de su asesinato, Monseñor Romero es conocido como “San
Romero de América.”


Remembering San Romero: 40 years of Inspiration and Hope

Oscar Arnulfo Romero was born on August 15, 1917 in Ciudad Barrios, Department of San Miguel. After finishing his basic studies he devoted himself to learning carpentry and music. In 1930 at the age of thirteen, he entered the minor seminary in San Miguel and then, in 1937, he moved to Rome where he finished his theology studies at the Gregorian University on April 4, 1942.

He returned to El Salvador in 1943, and was assigned to the parish of Anamorós, a town near San Miguel. In 1966, he was appointed Secretary of the Conference of Bishops in El Salvador, a position in which he remained for eleven years. In 1970, he was appointed Bishop and on February 3, 1977 the Catholic Church, under the command of Pope Paul VI, appointed him Archbishop of San Salvador.

During the following three years he served as Archbishop of San Salvador, the country was embarking on one of the bloodiest civil wars in Latin America. A defining moment for Monsignor Romero was the tragic murder of his friend, priest Rutilio Grande. After the murder of Father Grande, Monsignor Romero became a strong defender of human rights. His tireless fight in defense of the poor made him a powerful voice against the repression suffered by his people, to the point where he was considered to be “The Voice of the Voiceless.”

His words continue to resonate:

“Persecution is something necessary in the Church. Do you know why? Because the truth is always persecuted.” (Homily 29 -05-1977).

“My voice will disappear, but my Word which is Christ will remain in the hearts of those who have chosen to accept him.” (Homily 12-17-78).

“… I beg you, I beseech you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression!” (Homily 03-23-80).

“It is inconceivable that some can call themselves Christian without taking, like Christ, a preferential option for the poor.” (Homily 9-09-1979).

“If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran people” (March-1980).

romero2Needless to say, his word and his actions as a defender of the poor and oppressed made him an enemy of the most conservative sectors and the military dictatorship that governed the country. On March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass, he was assassinated by a sniper’s bullet through the heart. From the moment of his death, Monsignor Romero became a universal symbol of justice and peace.

On October 14, 2018, Monsignor Romero was declared a saint by Pope Francis. However to his people, he became holy at the hour of his death.

For the grassroots Movement of Ecclesial Communities of El Salvador, Monsignor Romero pleased God by unmasking the historical lie that poverty and misery of the people was God’s will. He bravely confessed the truth about the God who sent his Son Jesus Christ to take an unambiguous preference for the poor. Likewise, Romero’s canonization signifies a recognition of the just struggle of the Salvadoran people to define their own destiny.

Now, 40 years after his assassination, Monsignor Romero is known as “Saint Romero of the Americas.”

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education, Public Health, Voices Developments, Womens issues, Youth Development

Our Note on the COVID19 Situation El Salvador

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March 19, 2020

Dear Friend,

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.

Atentamente,
The VOICES Team

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civil war, human rights, News Highlights, violence

Salvadoran Congress Approves New Law That Benefits War Criminals

Léelo en español

Salvadoran Congress Approves New Law That Benefits War Criminals

On the night of February 26, with 44 votes in Parliament, the right-wing parties ARENA, PCN and PDC, which have been allied for decades, joined once again to approve the so-called Special Law on Transitional Justice, Reparation and National Reconciliation, or Amnesty Law 2.0. This is more or less a replica of the original Amnesty Law that was passed by the same parties in 1993. With that Amnesty Law in place, the worst crimes committed during the civil war remained in impunity and it wasn’t until 2016, when the Legislative Assembly declared that law as unconstitutional that the opportunity to prosecute war crimes arose, like El Mozote, where the Salvadoran army massacred more than 1,000 civilians, mostly women and children. In addition to the government’s many war crimes, crimes committed by death squads and other paramilitary groups linked to the Salvadoran State were also open for prosecution after the 2016 annulment.

According to various human rights organizations and those that support victims of the armed conflict, with the approval of this new law, impunity is again being favored. Under said law, war criminals could benefit from reductions or outright cancellations of penalties, if the defendants apologize for their crimes and collaborate with the justice system. It also states that a judge can abolish a prison sentence for reasons of age, health or the like, although it does not clearly specify the age or health conditions to which it refers.

Regarding this law, Amnesty International had this to say: “The Legislative Assembly of El Salvador did not pass a law, it approved a pact of impunity that seeks to ensure that those who have committed serious human rights violations during the armed conflict are not brought before justice and sanctioned for the atrocities they committed.” In similar terms, David Morales, a former Human Rights ombudsman and current member of CRISTOSAL, said: “The vote of the 44 deputies who today legitimized the massacres and atrocities of war is also a violation of human rights. Now they will be subject to internal constitutional control and international supervision, their infamous act is now part of our historical memory.”

For its part, the FMLN refrained from voting, which was described by the newspaper El Faro as a surprise, considering that on this issue the leftist party has recently “moved away from its historical discourse and has oscillated between different positions.” In fact, two members of the FMLN party who decided to speak to El Faro on the condition of anonymity, claimed that at this time the party is divided between those who support the text of the law and those who condemn it, which led them to ultimately abstain from voting.

Another criticism of the Special Law on Transitional Justice, Reparation and National Reconciliation is that it was formulated, negotiated and approved behind the backs of organizations that have been working for decades to achieve justice for the civil war victims. According to the Bureau Against Impunity in El Salvador, this is most likely due to the favoring of the perpetrators who seek loopholes to avoid prison sentences or penalties that will affect their financial assets, even if it is proven in fair trials that they have murdered, tortured or disappeared thousands of people.

Fortunately, President Bukele has already announced that said law will be vetoed and therefore cannot become the law of the republic. He tweeted: “The Presidency of the Republic will not sanction any law that does not contain the fundamental elements to be fair and constitutional: 1. Truth 2. Reparation 3. Justice. The bill that the @AsaAssemblySV intends to approve does not meet any of these three elements.”

If the veto occurs, the bill would return to the Legislative Assembly, which will have the option of overturning the President’s veto, a move requiring a 2/3 vote but given the correlation of force in Parliament, this seems unattainable. Moving forward, the deputies will have to formulate a new law, which we hope will be oriented to protect the victims and not the perpetrators.

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El Congreso Salvadoreño Aprueba una Nueva Ley que Beneficia a los Criminales de Guerra

En la noche del 26 de febrero, con 44 votos en el Parlamento, los partidos de derecha ARENA, PCN y PDC, que se han aliado durante décadas, se unieron una vez más para aprobar la llamada Ley Especial de Justicia Transicional, Reparación y Reconciliación Nacional o Ley de Amnistía 2.0. Esta es más o menos una réplica de la Ley de Amnistía original que fue aprobada por las mismas partes en 1993. Con la Ley de Amnistía anterior, los peores crímenes cometidos durante la guerra civil permanecieron en la impunidad y no fue hasta 2016, cuando el Legislativo La Asamblea declaró esa ley como inconstitucional que surgió la oportunidad de enjuiciar crímenes de guerra, como El Mozote, donde el ejército salvadoreño masacró a más de 1,000 civiles, en su mayoría mujeres y niños. Además de los muchos crímenes de guerra del gobierno, los crímenes cometidos por escuadrones de la muerte y otros grupos paramilitares vinculados al Estado salvadoreño también estaban abiertos a juicio después de la anulación de 2016.

No obstante, con la aprobación de la Ley Especial de Justicia Transicional, Reparación y Reconciliación Nacional, según diferentes organizaciones de derechos humanos y de víctimas del conflicto armado, se favorece nuevamente la impunidad, pues según dicha ley, los criminales de guerra podrían beneficiarse con reducciones y anulación de penas, si los acusados piden perdón por sus crímenes y colaboran con la justicia. También establece que un juez puede abolir una pena de prisión por motivos de edad, salud o similares, aunque no especifica claramente la edad ni las condiciones de salud a las que se refiere.

La reconocida organización Amnistía Internacional, al respecto de esta ley expresó: “La Asamblea Legislativa de El Salvador no aprobó una ley, aprobó un pacto de impunidad que busca que quienes cometieron graves violaciones a los derechos humanos durante el conflicto armado no sean llevados ante la justicia y sancionados por las atrocidades cometidas”. En similares términos se expresó el ex procurador de Derechos Humanos y actualmente integrante de la organización Cristosal, David Morales, quien dijo: “El voto de los 44 diputados que legitimaron hoy las masacres y atrocidades de la guerra, es también una violación de los Derechos Humanos. Ahora serán sometidos al control interno constitucional y a la supervisión internacional, su acto infame ahora es parte de nuestra memoria histórica.” Por su parte el FMLN se abstuvo de votar, lo cual fue calificado por el periódico El Faro como una sorpresa, considerando que en este tema el partido de izquierda se ha alejado de su discurso histórico y ha oscilado entre distintas posturas, de hecho este medio de comunicación publicó que dos diputados del FMLN que decidieron hablar bajo anonimato aseguraron que a último momento se dividió el partido entre quienes apoyaban el texto de la ley  y quienes lo condenaban, y finalmente optaron por abstenerse.

Otro de los cuestionamientos a la Ley es que se formuló, negoció y aprobó a espaldas de las organizaciones que por décadas han reinvindicado los derechos de las víctimas, según la Mesa contra la Impunidad en El Salvador, instancia conformada por más de 20 prestigiosas organizaciones de la sociedad civil, esto se debe probablemente al interés de  favorecer a victimarios, buscando fórmulas para evitar penas de prisión o afectación de sus patrimonios, aún si se demuestra en juicios justos que asesinaron, torturaron o desparecieron a miles de personas.

 Afortunadamente el Presidente ya anunció que dicha ley será vetada y por tanto no podrá convertirse en ley de la república. “La Presidencia de la República no sancionará ninguna ley que no contenga 3 elementos fundamentales para que sea justa y constitucional: 1. Verdad 2. Reparación 3. Justicia. El proyecto de ley que pretende aprobar la @AsambleaSV no cumple ninguno de estos 3 elementos”, escribió el mandatario en su cuenta de Twitter.

Si ocurre el veto, el proyecto de ley regresaría a la Asamblea Legislativa, instancia que tendrá la opción de superar el veto del Presidente, para la cual requiere los votos de 2 terceras partes de los diputados y dada la correlación de fuerza en el Parlamento, esto parece inalcanzable, de manera que los diputados tendrán que formular una nueva ley, esperando que sea orientada a proteger a las víctimas y no a los victimarios.

 

Community News, Disasters

Community Octavio Ortiz Will Soon Inaugurate their Casa Comunal

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In 2012, the Octavio Ortíz community decided to rebuild their casa comunal.
The new infrastructure is more spacious and has a higher foundation, which is fundamental considering that in the past the communities in this part of ​​the country have suffered greatly from floods caused by the overflow of the Lempa River. This building will serve as a shelter for natural disasters and emergency situations.

The beginning wasn’t easy.
Elmer Portillo, who at that time was serving as the President of the community, recently commented on the committed effort put into the the project, “When we began the construction of the new communal house, we didn’t have enough money, nor secured support from NGOs or institutions, we only had the will and the ability to work.”

Despite these limitations, this is the result. DSC_3116A spacious modern structure with impressive architecture.

The community contributed 100% of the labor and also some of the economic resources to purchase materials such as concrete blocks, cement and zinc sheets. Various other sources, among them VOICES, have supported the project with small donations over the years. VOICES made a final donation of $4,750 for the installation of the floor, which will conclude the project in the next few months.

VOICES ON THE BORDER congratulates the community, especially its board of directors for all their determination and hard work.

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agriculture, Agua/Aqua, Climate Change, El Salvador Government, Environment, Food Security, Public Health, Uncategorized, Water/Agua

MOVIAC Marches to Promote Agroecology in El Salvador


 

The organizations that make up the Movement of Victims Affected by Climate Change and Corporations (MOVIAC), took to the streets of San Salvador alongside environmental activists to create awareness about the negative impacts the indiscrimate use of Agrochemicals has on the health and safety of El Salvador.

According to MOVIAC, “Agroecology brings together sustainable and ancestral agricultural practices in order to unify the relationship between nature and humans and guarantee food saftey.”

Farmers, families, educators, leaders, young and old, marched together towards the Legislative Assembly to present a proposed law for the promotion of Agroecology, as a way to mitigate the impacts of climate change. They were met by senior government officials on the environmental committee and were able to submit the documents.

 


 

LEER MÁS↓

Diariocolatino: Propuesta de Ley de Fomento de la Agroecologia sera Presentada la Semana Proxima
DiarioLibre: Exigen Ley para Impulsar la Agroecologia en El Salvador y Prohibir Pesticidas