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.
On October 13, 1,500 Honduran refugees began the long arduous journey from one of the most violent capital cities in the world in search of respite and peace. The majority of those seeking a chance for survival were young people, women and their babies.
Pueblo Sin Fronteras or People without Borders, who organized the foot march says the aim is to draw attention to the plight facing the migrants at home and the dangers they run during their attempts to reach safety in the US.
Every single migrant had his or her own personal reason for fleeing. For some, especially the young people, it was direct threats or acts of violence towards themselves or their loved ones. For others, it was the oppressive Honduran government that has been opposing people’s justice movements, or it was the fear of what would become of their children because of unemployment and starvation.
Two days later on October 15th, the caravan had grown to an estimated 3,500 by the time it reached the Guatemalan border.
Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua all belong to a migratory convention called The Central America-4 Free Mobility Agreement (CA-4), it is akin to the Schengen agreement in Europe, which allows nationals from 26 countries in the Schengen area to legally enter and reside in each other’s countries. Though this agreement exists, officials in Guatemala and El Salvador have met the caravan with hostility and armed suppression.
Citizens of Honduras and other Centro American countries have been paying the price of U.S. foreign policy atrocities since the beginning of the cold war, with their lives and that of their loved ones. Since the 2009 Honduran coup d’état that put economic elites in charge of the most important sectors of society, the country has been on a never-ending binge of oppression and violence. While this instability has no doubt strengthened the rise of gang violence in the streets, the government’s own tactics of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, protest suppression and the jailing of political prisoners have added to the upheaval happening at this very moment.
On Sunday October 21, as the 7,000 person strong caravan reached the Mexican border of Tapachula in the State of Chiapas, Donald Trump fired off a series of tweets, expressing anger towards central american governments inability to halt the progression of the foot march.
“Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them,” Trump wrote.
An estimated 258 million people, approximately 3 per cent of the world’s population, currently live outside their country of origin, many of whose migration is characterized by varying degrees of compulsion. Migration is a fundamental human right. We have no right to forbid or stigmatise, we only have the power to try to do so.
Since last Saturday, El Salvador has been influenced by tropical storm Michael. The storm has caused heavy rains, mainly in the coastal area and northern Morazán, a situation that has led the Civil Protection authorities to issue a Yellow Alert in 31 municipalities in the east of the country and a Green Alert nationwide.
The authorities have reported three people killed, 10 injured, as well as 5 clogged roads, numerous trees knocked down by strong winds, overflowing rivers, landslides, flooded homes and more than 500 people displaced, mainly in the municipality of San Miguel.
Regarding the situation in El Bajo Lempa, considered one of the most vulnerable regions of the country, at the moment the only damage reported is a tree falling in community Octavio Ortiz that caused minor damage to the perimeter fence of the soccer field; nevertheless, the communities have been activated and remain vigilant of the rise and flow of the Lempa River, which is already presenting worrying levels.
Storm Michael has already become a hurricane and it is forecasted that rainstorms will continue intermittently throughout the country, with greater emphasis on the coastal strip, central and western areas. In addition, gusts of wind are expected between 40 and 50 kilometers per hour, especially on the coast.
Among the measures adopted by the government is the activation of the entire civil protection system, at the national level, as well as the suspension of classes for the next 48 hours in all educational centers, both public and private.
Huracán Michael Afecta a El Salvador
Desde el pasado sábado, El Salvador ha sido influenciado por la tormenta tropical Michael, que ha provocado fuertes lluvias, principalmente en la zona costera y el norte de Morazán. Situación que llevó a las autoridades de Protección Civil a decretar Alerta Amarilla en 31 municipios del oriente del país y Alerta Verde a nivel nacional.
Entre las afectaciones ocurridas, las autoridades informan de tres personas fallecidas, 10 lesionadas, así mismo de 5 carreteras obstruidas, numerosos árboles derribados por los fuertes vientos, ríos desbordados, deslizamientos de tierra, viviendas inundadas y más de 500 personas albergadas, principalmente en el municipio de San Miguel.
Con respecto a la situación en El Bajo Lempa, considerada una de las regiones más vulnerables del país, por el momento el único daño reportado es la caída de un árbol en la comunidad Octavio Ortiz que ocasionó daños menores a la cerca perimetral del campo de fútbol; no obstante, las comunidades se han activado y se mantienen vigilantes del incremento del caudal del Río Lempa, el cual ya presenta niveles preocupantes.
La tormenta Michael ya se ha convertido en huracán y se pronostica que las lluvias de temporal sigan de forma intermitente en todo el país, con mayor énfasis en la franja costera, zona centro y occidente. Además, se esperan ráfagas de viento entre los 40 y 50 kilómetros por hora, sobre todo en la franja costera.
Entre las medidas adoptadas por el gobierno está la activación de todo el sistema de protección civil, a nivel nacional, así como la suspensión de clases por las próximas 48 horas en todos los centros educativos, tanto públicos como privados.
“We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”
Today we join our Salvadoran family in the commemoration of Oscar Arnulfo Romero’s 101st birthday. May the messages of peace and love that he imparted continue to live on in the hearts and minds of all who love justice.
A press conference was held this morning, August 13th, in San Salvador by representatives of Tutela Legal Maria Julia Hernandez to give an update on the case of El Mozote, the massacre that occurred on December 11, 1981 in northern Morazán.
Over 40 witnesses have come forward since the overturn of El Salvador’s Amnesty Law in 2016 to contribute harrowing testimonies of the barbarity executed by Lieutenant Colonel Domingo Monterrosa Barrios (deceased) and the Atlacatl Battalion (disbanded).
According to the findings, Monterrosa had the full cooperation and authorization from the Salvadoran state at the time of the massacre and attempted to cover up and deny the act, which was thwarted due to the forensic anthropological team from Argentina that conducted exhumations. Based on their invaluable work, it has come to light that over 1,000 innocent civilians were indeed tormented and being killed.
“It is no longer possible to deny that a massacre occurred.” stated one of the attorneys from Tutela Legal.
The legal team also expressed the painful truth that til this day, survivors of the massacre have been left blind, sterile, full of shrapnel and continue to suffer from post traumatic stress.
The 18 military commanders that carried out this inhumane act are being tried in a court of law, some posthumously, in a judicial process that has reached “an advanced stage,” and attorneys are confident that justice will “finally be served.”
The mission of Tutela Legal is the “observation, protection, study, promotion, dissemination, information and intervention in the defense of threatened or violated human rights, with special attention to groups in vulnerable situations.”