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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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Several years ago, Camila Díaz left her native El Salvador and went to the United States, looking for a place where she would be safer as a transgender woman. But she failed to find a sympathetic ear. Deported back to San Salvador, the nation's capital, she was killed just over a year later. Díaz, 30, was one of 138 Salvadorans deported from the United States who have been killed upon returning to their country since 2013, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. Mónica Linares, an activist with the rights group Arcoiris Trans (Rainbow Trans) said the group had demanded authorities investigate her killing.
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Fearing for his life, a thin, curly-haired 25-year-old fled to the United States-Mexico border and requested asylum. After nine days in custody, he was put on a plane in McAllen, Texas, and sent to Guatemala. American authorities explained that he would wait there for an “initial screening,” the first step in the U.S. asylum process, and eventually return to stand before a U.S. judge, he said. But it wasn't true. The U.S. government sent him here to apply for Guatemalan asylum under a new Trump administration policy that puts migrants into this Central American country's bare bones asylum system with few resources and fewer options. From the program's start in November through last week, the U.S. government shipped 683 asylum-seekers to Guatemala. That is more than double the number of asylum-seekers processed by Guatemala in all of 2018. But only 14, or about 2% of the foreigners actually pursued asylum here.
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Fr. Donal Godfrey, SJ, associate director for faculty and staff spirituality at USF, explained that the Jesuits had spoken against the kidnapping, torture and murder of civilians, many of them poor, at the hands of El Salvador’s military regime during the country’s civil war. Because the Jesuits spoke up, they were targeted as enemies. “With this memorial, we honor the martyrs in El Salvador, and we reaffirm our Jesuit mission to struggle against injustice and seek the truth,” said Fr. Godfrey.
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The Valle del Angel development is not the first or only one of its kind. The encroachment of urban mega-developments as a mechanism of capitalist expansion is a disturbing trend in El Salvador and in the region. In addition to other industries like mining/natural resource extraction, agribusiness, and hydroelectric projects, urban real estate development is on the uptick as a means of “accumulation through dispossession" and the ongoing transfer of wealth from the working class to elites. (All of which are among the root causes of destabilization and displacement we’re seeing across Central America.)
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Study finds 42.5% interviewees leaving Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador reported the violent death of a relative “We’re speaking of human beings, not numbers,” Sergio Martín, MSF general coordinator in Mexico, said at the study’s presentation on Tuesday. “In many cases, it’s clear that migration is the only possible way out. Staying put is not an option.” A 2019 survey from Creative Associates International found violence was the main driver of migration for 38% of Salvadorans, 18% of Hondurans and 14% of Guatemalans. In Guatemala – the main source of migrants detained at the US border with Mexico – 71% of respondents cited “economic concerns” as their main motive.
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The president of El Salvador tries to intimidate the members of parliament by marching up with soldiers. This was due to the call of the Council of Ministers, over which the President presides, for an extraordinary session designed to approve a loan of USD 109 million to finance the so-called Territorial Control Plan Phase III. This Plan consists of strengthening the equipment of public and military security apparatus in the country.
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The 117-page report, “Deported to Danger: United States Deportation Policies Expose Salvadorans to Death and Abuse,” identifies cases of 138 Salvadorans who, since 2013, were killed after deportation from the United States, and more than 70 others who were beaten, sexually assaulted, extorted, or tortured. Perpetrators of these abuses include gangs, former intimate partners, and Salvadoran police or security personnel.

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