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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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January 18, 2020
Saint Romero: Solidarity and the Struggle for Social Justice in El Salvador
January 12, 2020
We are disturbed to learn of continued attacks on freedom of the press in your country. On August 1, 2019, we wrote to you about smear campaigns, threats, and online harassment against three journalists who reported on the potential human rights impacts of your government’s “plan de control territorial,” which increases police and military presence in certain regions to combat criminal gang activity. We do not see the situation improving for journalists in El Salvador. Journalists have reported being excluded from presidential press conferences during your first six months in office. They have also reported at least one disabling cyberattack on a news website during that period. The newspaper El Diario de Hoy saw government advertising suspended after it covered one of these developments.
December 24, 2019
We are dismayed to learn that Lisiania Zelaya, lawyer, artist and member of the Amorales Collectve, has been convicted of slander against Ricardo Mendoza and fined US$ 2,027. Since 2016, artists of Amorales have denounced Ricardo Mendoza, a professor at the School of Drama at UES, whom they accuse of abusing his female students during rehearsals of theater productions. Abusive actions, which have been condemned by present and former students, include his asking them to take off their clothes for him. On May 27, members of the Amorales Collective received subpoenas from the Sixth Sentencing Court of San Salvador accusing them of slander and damage to Mendoza’s honor and personal reputation. The conviction of Lisiania Zelaya highlights the struggle of women against systematic, institutionalized violence.
December 4, 2019
Like the “Dreamers,” another group of migrants, the TPS cardholders are Trump targets. And like the Dreamers, they’re all from countries of people of color: Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, and Nepal. Guinea, and—the latest—Nepal. Never mind that TPS people have families, businesses, homes, and community ties here. One even has a grown U.S.-born doctor son who, the proud father said, “just delivered 14 babies” in Chicago hospitals. So that clash with Trump and U.S. Senate Republicans brought Palma, Sorto, Baraq and almost 100 other people, TPS holders, and their families, to Capitol Hill for lobbying and cajoling lawmakers on Dec. 3. Their objective: To get the GOP-run Senate to follow the Democratic-run U.S. House and pass HR6, the Secure Act, and end the constant worrying TPS card-holders have that, as one put it, “We’ll wake up one morning and wonder if we’ll still be allowed here.”
November 22, 2019
Saturday marks 30 years since the Jesuit massacre, one of the most high-profile religious crimes in recent Latin American history. It drew the world's attention to a deep crisis in El Salvador, and the human rights abuses that persisted throughout a 12-year civil war. Half a million Salvadorans were displaced, and many fled as refugees to the United States. The United States, wary of Soviet influence in Central America, backed El Salvador's anti-communist military regime. Between 1980 and 1992, the U.S. sent over $4 billion in economic and military aid to El Salvador's government, amounting to about $1 million each day. While U.S. policymakers argued the need to develop a democratic government in El Salvador, the reality was that Washington was bankrolling a corrupt military, known for kidnapping, torturing, and massacring innocent civilians. "There were always bodies being discovered in the dumps," says Victor Abalos, who reported during El Salvador's civil war in the 1980s as a freelance journalist. "Young, old, women, men — the theme for a lot of people was that life was cheap." The Jesuit priests had become the latest victims in the civil war that claimed over 75,000 lives.
November 21, 2019
At least four LGBT+ people have been killed in El Salvador in the last month. The latest victim, Oscar Canenguez, a gay man, found dead on Sunday (Nov 17). In a statement, the U.N. called on Salvadorean authorities "to investigate these crimes so that they might punish the perpetrators ... and take urgent measures to prevent further acts of violence ... against the LGBTI community."
November 19, 2019
The Trump administration, which has already closed the Mexican border to most Central Americans seeking U.S. asylum, is planning to go a step further and send most of the would-be migrants to another Central American nation to seek refuge there. Regulations proposed by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security would authorize immigration judges at the southern border to send asylum-seekers to one of three countries — Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras — as long as it was not their homeland. They could apply for asylum there rather than in the United States. The rules would allow other migrants to remain in the United States if they could convince an immigration judge that they were likely to be persecuted, or tortured, in the Central American country where they were to be sent to apply for asylum. That would be very difficult to prove for a migrant who would have little or no time to gather evidence about conditions in the Central American nation and, in nearly all cases, would not have access to a lawyer, said Richard Caldarone, an attorney with the Tahirih Justice Center, a support group for immigrant women and girls.
November 14, 2019
Over the last century, the U.S. military intervention leading to the overthrow of democratically elected governments—or its support for tyrannical regimes—has played an important role in the instability, poverty, and violence that drives tens of thousands of people from the Central American countries toward Mexico and the United States. Guatemala: U.S. government support to the Guatemalan military was responsible for most of the human rights abuses committed during the 36-year war (1960-86) in which 200,000 people (mostly Mayan indigenous) were killed in what is now recognized as genocide. El Salvador: During the 1980s, the US sent $1-$2million in military aid per day. U.S. officers took over key positions at top levels of the Salvadoran military during the 12-yr war (1979-1992). More than 75,000 people were murdered or “disappeared,” while 20% of the population fled the country as refugees to Mexico and the US. Honduras: In 2009, President Manuel Zelaya, a liberal reformist, was ousted in a military coup (conducted by officers trained at the infamous School of the Americas). The U.S. refused to call it a coup while working to ensure that Zelaya did not return to power, in flagrant contradiction to the wishes of the Organization of American States. Today, there is routine violent crackdown by the police and military on the pro-democracy movement.
November 11, 2019
Three countries—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—received more than 90 per cent of the deportations from the United States. Many of these deportees were members of the 18th Street and Salvatrucha gangs who had arrived in the United States as children but had never secured legal residency or citizenship; they had joined the gangs as a way to feel included in a receiving country that often actively impeded their integration. On being sent back to countries of origin that they barely knew, deportees reproduced the structures and behaviour patterns that had provided them with support and security in the United States. They swiftly founded local clikas, or chapters, of their gang in their communities of origin; in turn, these clikas rapidly attracted local youths and either supplanted or absorbed pandillas [local gangs].
November 6, 2019
The rampant violence that afflicts the Northern Triangle, must be understood as a permutation of both preceding civil wars and US imperialism...The United States bears responsibility for instilling right-wing forces with a virulent anticommunism through both mobile and School of the Americas training programs...Sara Diamond argues, “Anticommunism became the American Right’s dominant motif not just because it justified the enforcement of US dominion internationally but also because it wove together disparate threads of right-wing ideology.” The Reagan foreign policy doctrine conveyed a project to “roll back revolution” and to undo gains made by struggles for decolonization. Reagan's wars in Central America followed a 100-year tradition of US military intervention. Starting in the 19th century, the US military invaded Nicaragua 3 times (1894, 1896, 1910) and occupied the nation for 20 years (1912-1933). The US sent troops to Honduras 5 times from 1903 to 1924. In Guatemala, the CIA overthrew its democratically elected president Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, laying the conditions for 30 years of civil war, and the massacre of 200,000 mostly indigenous people. In tandem with US militarization,...fruit companies restructured the region's economies toward monoculture. [Instituted was] a near-permanent open door for corporate intervention in matters of national sovereignty.