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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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We continue to organize our communities in support and defense of immigrants, especially those in vulnerable situations. Connect with Immigration Working Group CLE, a collaborative of community advocates and organizations across NE Ohio. Ask about the group’s Immigrant Defense Fund, Rapid Response Team, Bond Reduction Project, volunteer needs, legislative advocacy, vigils, rallies, marches, and more. Contact iwgcle@gmail.com or see www.facebook.com/iwgCLE
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Solidarity donations are being distributed through social movement organizations and collectives in Central America that are working in the communities most impacted by flooding and government neglect.  Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised through grassroots channels, but the need is much greater. Please give what you can to help these families in desperate need.
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We remember and honor the life and legacy of the four US women murdered in El Salvador on Dec 2, 1980: Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke , Cleveland Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and Cleveland lay missioner Jean Donovan. We honor their memories through our commitment to act for justice. See a list of resources for education, inspiration and action .
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Thank you to ClevelandPeople.com for publishing this reflection written by Thérèse Osborne, commemorating the martyrdom of Sisters Maura Clarke M.M., Ita Ford M.M., Dorothy Kazel O.S.U. and lay missionary Jean Donovan on December 2, 1980. "And this is the reason that Maura and Ita, Jean and Dorothy were killed. They had discerned that accompanying refugees was the crying need of the people. You see, all of El Salvador had turned into one huge refugee camp. People were running away from the bombing, and it's as if everyone took one giant step. Those in tiny villages went to the next town and moved in with relatives. We would often meet families walking along the road with just a few cooking pots, maybe a bag of clothes, and their children. Those in the towns would make their way to the next city, and those who could went to the capital, where makeshift refugee centres were set up in the churches. The major seminary of San Salvador had 5,000 people living in tents on the football pitch for five years. Technically we might call these people "displaced persons" rather than refugees because they didn't have the means to leave their own country; but they were internal refugees in every sense of the word. In the media and official government policy, if you stayed in a conflictive zone to harvest your crops you were labeled a subversive and accused of consorting with the guerrilla army; and if you left your village you were considered suspicious because you came from a conflictive area."
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Honduras and Nicaragua : With the devastation already caused by Hurricane Eta (and Hurrican Iota, just 2 weeks later), the Honduras Solidarity Network is launching this fundraising campaign to raise money for community-based organizations affected by the storm. All money raised will go to these well established organizations already doing the work, climate disaster relief and organizing that is needed for a sustainable and effective response to the damages and urgent humanitarian crisis caused by the hurricane. See also: specific funds for communities in Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador
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With little more than a year passed since President Nayib Bukele took office, one thing has become crystal clear: the country is still trying to resolve its different historical problems through repression. At the onset of the pandemic, the president publicly instructed the security forces to “be tougher” on those who did not comply with the quarantine, noting that he did not care about complaints of the authorities “bending wrists” or seizing vehicles. Over the last few months, armed soldiers have, for example, been deployed to perform tasks related to containing the virus. These images only served to remind us of the terrible years of the armed conflict. In addition to the deployment of security, police and military forces, there have been multiple allegations of excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests. According to official figures, more than 16,000 people were quarantined in state custody, including those accused of breaking the national lockdown and people returning from overseas.
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The Jesuit Massacre, November 16, 1989 at the University of Central America (UCA) in San Salvador. An elite commando unit killed the six priests, their housekeeper (Elba) and her daughter (Celina) at the priests’ campus residence. The military tried to make the massacre appear as though it had been carried out by leftist guerrillas. Nine members of the military were initially put on trial, but the court absolved seven of them. Two officers served short sentences in El Salvador, but were released in 1993 after passage of an amnesty law. Fast forward to 2020: A court in Spain sentenced former Salvadoran colonel Inocente Orlando Montano to 133 years in prison. Arnau Baulenas, a lawyer with the Human Rights Institute at the University of Central America said Montano’s conviction and sentence in Spain showed that the orders came from high up. He blames a lack of political will and resistance within El Salvador’s justice system for being unable to achieve similar outcomes in his own country.

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