ElectionSV2021

¿QUE SIGUE, LUEGO DE LAS ELECCIONES EN EL SALVADOR?

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Con los Acuerdos de Paz, en 1992, se pone fin a la guerra civil y se inicia una nueva etapa en la vida política de El Salvador, caracterizada por la desmilitarización de la sociedad, el surgimiento de nuevas instituciones y el ejercicio de elecciones democráticas.

El sistema democrático salvadoreño adolece de debilidad institucional y persisten comportamientos antidemocráticos en la mayoría actores políticos, pero se ha logrado institucionalizar elecciones de manera periódica. Desde 1992 se han llevado a cabo 13 eventos electorales. 6 para elección de presidente y 7 para elección de diputados y concejos municipales.

En una sociedad democrática, la celebración de elecciones justas, libres, transparentes y competitivas son esenciales para el sano ejercicio del poder y sobre todo para que la decisión de la población, expresada en su voto, se traduzca en servidores públicos electos por mayoría, quienes, durante un periodo de tiempo, efectivamente deberían estar al servicio de la población.

Si bien, las 13 elecciones realizadas han sido en el marco de la legalidad, la celebrada el pasado 28 de febrero tuvo ciertas particularidades; en primer lugar, una desproporcionada campaña electoral, en la cual el partido Nuevas Ideas (partido del presidente Nayib Bukele) concentró más del 70% del gasto en publicidad.

Otra característica fue una exacerbada violencia electoral; al grado que, a pocas semanas de la elección, un grupo de militantes del FMLN fue atacado a balazos luego de participar en un acto partidario en San Salvador, como consecuencia dos activistas murieron y tres resultaron heridos. El ataque fue condenado por varios representantes diplomáticos, entre ellos el encargado de negocios de la embajada de Estados Unidos en El Salvador, Brendan O’Brien. Sin embargo, no fue condenado por el propio presidente, quien en cambio culpó al partido FMLN por llevar a cabo un autoataque.

Adicionalmente, hubo una constante violación a la legislación electoral, especialmente por parte de funcionarios del más alto nivel del gobierno y del mismo presidente de la república, así como la utilización de abundantes recursos públicos para fines electorales.

Estos factores representaron ventajas antidemocráticas para Nuevas Ideas; quienes, como era de esperar, ganaron las elecciones, y no solo porque llevaron a cabo una campaña bien planificada que no temía romper las reglas, sino también por una acumulación de instituciones desacreditadas, promesas incumplidas, deficiencia de liderazgo y la corrupción generalizada de los partidos políticos tradicionales.

De confirmarse los resultados preliminares, “el partido del presidente” obtendría 56 de 84 diputados y 145 de 262 alcaldías y concejos municipales. Para tener una apreciación de lo que esto significa, hay que decir que nunca un partido había logrado tantos diputados. La cifra más alta la logró Arena en 1994, al sumar 39 parlamentarios.

Con estos números a su favor, el presidente Bukele no necesitará de ningún otro partido para tomar decisiones como la elección del Fiscal General; elección de Magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia; del Procurador General de los Derechos Humanos y de Magistrados de la Corte de Cuentas de la República; aprobación de nuevos préstamos, otorgar concesiones estatales al sector privado, entre otras leyes. Con lo cual tendría un poder político, casi absoluto.

Otra preocupación tiene que ver con la reforma constitucional, que ya está en marcha, y la cuestión de si el presidente Bukele buscará o no reformar la constitución para permitirle ser elegido para otro mandato, considerando que el actual mandato presidencial es por 5 años, sin oportunidad de reelección.

No obstante, la concentración de poder político en la figura del presidente, incluida la posibilidad de su reelección, no parece ser asunto de mucha transcendencia para la mayoría de la población. En 2018 una encuesta del Latinobarómetro reveló que El Salvador era el país de América que menos importancia le daba a la democracia, solo el 28%, la consideraba importante, mientras que el 54% reportó que le daba lo mismo vivir en una democracia que en una dictadura.

Afortunadamente, la democracia no se reduce al ejercicio del poder institucionalizado, la democracia también se encuentra en la organización y participación de sociedades marginadas movilizadas, que trabajan incansablemente para exigir el respeto de los derechos humanos de sus comunidades.

Nada le haría más daño a la precaria democracia salvadoreña que un rol pasivo de la sociedad civil. Hoy más que nunca, la academia, la prensa independiente, la iglesia progresista y el movimiento social en general deben asumir un rol de contrapeso frente a las estructuras de poder gubernamental que actúan en contra de las necesidades tangibles del pueblo, y hacerlos responsables, sin importar el color de su partido.


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WHAT’S NEXT, AFTER THE ELECTIONS IN EL SALVADOR

With the signing of the Peace Accords in 1992, the civil war ended and a new political era began in El Salvador. This era was characterized by the demilitarization of the society, the emergence of new institutions and the free exercise of democratic elections. Despite all this, the Salvadoran democratic system has continued to suffer from institutional weakness and undemocratic behaviors from the majority of it’s politicians, still, it has been possible to hold elections on a regular basis. Since 1992, 13 national elections have been held, six for the president and seven for the National Assembly and municipal councils.

In a democratic society, the holding of fair, free, transparent and competitive elections are essential for the healthy exercise of power, and above all so that the decision of the people, expressed in their vote, is translated into public servants who, for a period of time, must actually be at the service of the population.

Although the 13 elections held have been within the framework of legality, the one held on February 28, 2021 had certain peculiarities; such as a very expensive electoral campaign, ran by Nuevas Ideas (President Bukele’s party), which concentrated more than 70% of it’s party’s budget on advertising.

Another unfortunate issue was exacerbated electoral violence; which a few before the elections, led to a group of FMLN party supporters being shot at after participating in a party rally in San Salvador. Two activists died in that attack and and three others were injured. The attack was condemned by numerous diplomatic representatives, including Brendan O’Brien, the charge d’affaires of the United States embassy in El Salvador. It was not however, not condemned by the President himself, who instead placed the blame on the FMLN party for carrying out a self attack.

Additionally, there was the constant violation of electoral laws, especially by officials from the highest level of the government and the President of the Republic himself, as well as the abundant use of state resources for electoral purposes.

These factors represented antidemocratic advantages for Nuevas Ideas; who unsurprisingly won the election across the board, not just because they ran a well-strategized campaign that wasn’t afraid to break rules, but also because of an accumulation of discredited institucions, broken promises, leadership deficiency and the overall corruption of the traditional political parties.

If the preliminary results are confirmed, “the president’s party” would secure 56 out of 84 parliamentarians and 145 out of the 262 mayorships and municipal councils. These are historical numbers for El Salvador, before this, the highest figure achieved was by a single party was the ARENA party in 1994, who secured 39 parliamentarians.

With these numbers in his favor, President Bukele will not need any other party to make decisions such as the election of the Attorney General; Human Rights Ombudsman, Supreme Court Magistrates; Magistrates of the Court of Accounts of the Republic; approval of new loans, granting state concessions to the private sector, among other laws. With this level of influence, he would have almost absolute political power.

Another concern has to do with constitutional reform, which is already under way, and the question of whether or not President Bukele will seek to amend the constitution to allow himself to be elected for another term, considering that the current Presidential term is for 5 years, with no oppurtunity for re-election.

However, the concentration of political power in the figure of the president, including the possibility of his re-election, does not seem to be a matter of great importance for the majority of the population. In 2018, a Latinobarometer survey revealed that El Salvador was the country in America that gave the least importance to democracy, only 28% considered it important, while 54% reported that living in a democratic state was the same as living in a dictatorship.

Fortunately, democracy is not reduced to the exercise of institutionalized power, democracy is also found in the organization and participation of mobilized marginalized societies, who all work tirelessly to demand respect for the human rights of thier communities.

Ultimately, nothing would do more harm to El Salvador’s precarious democracy than a passive civil society. Today more than ever, academics, the independent press, the progressive church and the social movement in general must assume a counterweight role against the governmental power structures, that act against the tangible needs of the people, and hold them accountable, regardless of party lines.

Fundraising Campaign, solidarity, Voices Developments

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Agua/Aqua, Climate Change, COVID 19, Disasters, News Highlights

Tropical Storm Amanda Ravages El Salvador

d4922581873ab499e55e7720a3ae7895On Sunday May 31st, the country of El Salvador issued a State of Emergency and Red Alert, after nearly two days of the constant terrential winds and rains carried by Tropical Storm Amanda. The storm touched down in various parts of the country and is leaving mild to large-scale devastation in it’s path.

The hardest hit departments are San Salvador, Sonosonate, La Libertad, and San Vicente.

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Over 2,200 families have been evacuated, 44 government-run shelters have been set up, 34 major landslides have been reported, 26 entire sectors are underwater, hundreds of trees, electrical posts and street lights are down, many of the country’s tunnels have flodded, and entire coastal communities have been swept away.

At the time of this writing, 11 people have lost their their lives, including a young child.

“At the national level, in 48 hours we had up to 400 millimeters of water in some areas of the country, which is more than 10% of what falls in a year in the territory,” explained the Minister of the Environment, Fernando López.”

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Unfortunately, our communities are also being hit hard by the storm. In the Bajo Lempa, entire crops have been lost and communities are on high alert for the possibility of flooding of the Lempa River.

The President of ACUDESBAL, by 3 p.m. 1,000 cubic meters of rain per second had fallen and by 5 p.m., they expect 1,500 cubic meters per second of rain to fall. Communities are being told to keep a close eye on the river and constantly verify its level and to work with local civil protection teams that are being assisted by the Army.

Communities Amando Lopez and Octavio Ortiz have also begun to clean and adecaute their casa comunals in the event families need to be evacuated.

In Morazán, the affects of the storm vary depending on the location. In Segundo Montes, things are relatively calm with no major damages reported except for downed trees.

However, places like San Carlos, San Francisco Gotera and Jocoatique are facing flooding and have had to evacuate various communities. Rio Torola is also being closely monitored and communities are preparing to evacuate if necessary.

tormenta-amandaAccording to the Ministry of Environment (MARN) the storm is supposed to lessen over the next 12 hours before eventually making it’s way towards northern Guatemala. MARN also projects that by the storm’s end, nine rivers, including the Jiquilisco Bay will overflow.

Our team remains in direct contact with our communities and groups in order to render whatever aid necessary, and we’ll continue to keep you all informed about the storm’s progression.

In the meantime, we ask that you keep El Salvador in your hearts and your prayers as it deals with yet another natural catastrophe during a most inopportune time.

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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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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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.

delegation, solidarity

Creating an Intentional Partnership

Educators from both Washington D.C. and community Amando Lopez began an intentional partnership aimed at improving the educational environment of the community and the pedagogical capacities of each group.

This intentional connection is based on a common purpose, working cooperatively to create community that reflects shared core values.