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El Salvador: News & Updates
El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. The US-backed civil war, which erupted after the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980, lasted 12 years (1980-92), killing 70,000 people and forcing 20% of the nation’s five million people to seek refuge in the US.
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May 28, 2021
The Butler County Jail--one of four county jails in Ohio that has been detaining immigrants--is getting out of the business of “civil” immigration detention, and the community is celebrating. Advocates and lawyers spoke with reporters about this development in a Zoom meeting on May 28, which included remarks from people who had spent time in that jail. Sandra Ramírez described what it felt like to visit her brother at the Butler jail every week during the time he was detained there by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Watching him lose weight and become a shadow of himself was so painful for her, as a 16 year-old, and the scars remain with her and her family today. A year from now, Sandra hopes that immigrants are no longer detained in jails for ICE, and that everyone who needs it can have a path to citizenship. Read more about this important development at http://ohioimmigrant.org/. If you missed it, watch the press conference here.
May 28, 2021
Please see a summary of the six letters we sent to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries. We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: -protect people living under threat -demand investigations into human rights crimes -bring human rights criminals to justice IRTF’s Rapid Response Network volunteers write letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn, or ask us to mail you hard copies.
May 15, 2021
Many sacrifices have been made by the people of El Salvador to build a democratic system of government. Tens of thousands fought and died for a democratic El Salvador during the civil war; one million people had to flee as refugees to escape the massacres and other armed violence. Now the president and members of the Legislative Assembly are actively weakening democracy. On May 1, a coalition of four political parties (led by the majority New Ideas party) wiped out the judiciary when it fired all five magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court without adhering to constitutionally-established justifications for doing so. Attorney General Raul Melara was also dismissed. We are calling on President Bukele and the Legislative Assembly to reverse the firing of the Supreme Court magistrates and grant them a defense hearing, as is their right under the law. Maintaining an independent judiciary is crucial to strengthening democracy in El Salvador.
May 2, 2021
The Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) categorically condemns the decision of the New Ideas, GANA, PCN, and PDC parties, who, upon taking office on May 1, and with the backing of President Nayib Bukele, voted to unconstitutionally remove the five magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, in what is being denounced in El Salvador as a coup d'etat. CISPES has built strong people-to-people ties over the past forty years and have accompanied Salvadorans during the bloodiest dictatorships of the 1980s and in historic moments such as the transition to democracy. While El Salvador's democracy, like in the United States, has not been perfect, the transition to peace in El Salvador has been the result of a popular struggle and a pluralist negotiation, not of the whims of a demagogue.
April 12, 2021
Join us for this unique opportunity to interview the filmmakers of Missing in Brooks County, one of the documentary entries of the Cleveland International Film Festival 45. The haunted landscape of Brooks County, Texas, is littered with the bodies and belongings of an unknown number of lost souls. All the while, the national immigration debate drags on, rarely taking into account the very real life and death consequences that are felt in the farmlands of Brooks County and elsewhere. And on both sides of the border, heartbroken families are left devastated, desperate to find out what happened to their disappeared loved ones. Mysteries unfold as two of the families search for answers--and the severity of this broken immigration system becomes more and more apparent.
April 10, 2021
As we continue to face a refugee crisis on the U.S. southern border, it is imperative to address the destabilizing threat posed by environmental degradation in Central America. In particular, climate change and illegal cattle ranching—often by organized crime and narcotrafficking entities—is driving forest destruction and lawlessness within Central America’s largest wildernesses, directly imperiling the physical, cultural, food and water security of local communities and Indigenous peoples.
March 13, 2021
More than two months of a hunger strike have wreaked havoc on the health of Florenzi apparel factory workers, so they decided to break their strike and celebrate the progress in their case. For the Florenzi Women's Collective, it all began last July, when, after being dismissed without justification, they took over the factory where they assemble medical gowns and blouses. After the first month without eating solid food, workers were finally given an audience with El Salvador’s Minister of Labor, Rolando Castro. Then on March 10 they met with Judge Daisy Abrego, from the First Court of Labor Justice, to begin the process of investigating their claims. "We feel victorious. The strike is stopped, but the struggle and the taking of Florenzi we maintain," said José Rivas. He and co-worker Nuria Martínez maintained their hunger strike for 64 days. Workers say that although they have stopped the hunger strike, they will continue their struggle to ensure that their rights are met. Among other grievances, workers report that the company, Industrias Florenzi, did not pay four months of salary owed to the 210 employees, nor the legally required severance pay, vacation pay, or bonuses.
March 4, 2021
“Women Organized in Resistance” reads the banner hanging on the wall behind these women textile workers who are making their struggle very public. Draped over the table where they sit is another banner: “Together We Break the Chains.” Rina Vargas explains what’s going on: “Today marks the 55th day of the hunger strike and we can affirm that the Salvadoran State and the institutionality that it defends so much has failed the working class. The constitution of the republic is used at the convenience of economic power, the foreign-owned companies are defended, but thousands of workers who produce wealth in this country are abandoned.”
March 2, 2021
Prior to and throughout the campaign period, environmental, youth, women’s, feminist, union and other social movement organizations voiced concerns over pre-electoral violence and false allegations of fraud made by President Bukele and Nuevas Ideas intended to undermine confidence in El Salvador's democratic institutions. For months, the Bukele administration accused election officials of conspiracy to commit fraud. In response, Nuevas Ideas supporters and the National Civil Police (PNC) physically attacked and arrested election workers in November of last year, among other incidents of intimidation aimed at members of the TSE. Political violence escalated on January 31, when two members of the FMLN were shot and killed by government employees. The attack, considered one of the worst in decades, prompted Members of Congress to write a letter to the State Department expressing concerns that “political dialogue has devolved into themes of intolerance, violence, bribery, and corruption.”
February 25, 2021
On July 1, 2020, more than 200 workers were fired from the Industrias Florenzi textile factory without receiving salaries, bonuses, or full severance payments (as required by law). A few days after the dismissals, factory personnel took over the facilities where the hunger strikers continue to demand justice. Many unions and other organizations in El Salvador are supporting this feminist struggle and are offering the former workers workshops on labor rights, gender, education and sexual health. Some say it has helped them empower themselves personally and in their work cause.