Latest Human Rights News- El Salvador

Agricultural Cooperatives feel our local economies threatened by the intrusion of the United States Government

Over 3 years, the agricultural cooperatives have managed to develop the technique of seed production of both corn and  beans. This method produces high quality produce which has been certified with the technical and financial support of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Read more...

 

On June 5th, 6th and 7th, El Salvador hosted the annual General Assembly of the Organization of American States. While representatives from 34 nations met in the La Feria Internacional in San Salvador and at nearby hotels to discuss security issues facing the region, Salvadorans and Hondurans protested the return of the post-coup government of Honduras to the OAS. About 200 Hondurans from COPINH (the Civil Counsel of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) and from campesino organzinations of the Bajo Aguan, Honduras came to participate in numerous rallies and marches. Housing, food and transportation for the visitors was arranged by a number of social movement organizations, as well as tents for the Hondurans who occupied a traffic circle near the OAS meeting.

While officials like Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez of El Salvador praised the agreement between de facto President Porfirio Lobo and democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya that allowed Zelaya back into Honduras and Honduras back into the OAS, the Honduran delegation sent another message. With signs saying “The OAS is a joke” and “No More Human Rights Violations in Honduras”, the Hondurans decried the OAS for legitimizing a government that they say is complicit in more than 200 assassinations and a climate of extreme impunity. 

The resistance movement under the banner of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) had been demanding that Honduras not be readmitted until the government met a  list of: an end to human rights abuses with investigations into their perpetrators, the return of all political exiles with assurances of their safety,  allowing the Honduran people convene a National Constituent Assembly, and the recognized  of the FNRP as a legitimate political actor. 

Over a hundred international organizations, including U.S-El Salvador Sister Cities and seven local committees, joined the FNRP in their demands in a letter to the OAS in May.These efforts were accompanied by a letter signed by 87 U.S. Congresspeople to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton that cited human rights violations and called on the State Department and U.S. Embassy “to vigorously press the Honduran government to take concrete steps to end abuses by official security forces by suspending, investigating and prosecuting those implicated in human rights violations.” Sister Cities committees were key in getting congressional signers. MOFGA members, for example, convinced Maine representative Chellie Pingree to sign the letter, her first about Central American issues. On the last day of signature collecting, Philadelphia committee members contacted Representative Michael F. Doyle who decided to sign on at the last moment. It was due to such pressure that so many representatives signed the letter and that it got so much mainstream press attention. Click here to see press coverage in El Salvador and Honduras.

 In San Salvador, the Honduran delegation and their Salvadoran host organizations seemed to spend every moment of the delegation´s visit protesting the OAS meeting. On Saturday June 4th, the Hondurans protested in front of the El Salvador del Mundo park and later held a vigil in front of the National Cathedral in downtown San Salvador. The next morning, the delegation attended mass at the crypt of Monseñor Romero, where followers of Romero and liberation theology meet every Sunday.  The Hondurans held signs of murdered and disappeared resistance members and presented symbolic offerings to the priest to the applause of the congregation.

On Sunday, hundreds of frustrated Salvadorans gathered at El Salvador del Mundo to protest the passage of Decree 743, which changes the way the Sala de lo Constitucional, the section of the Salvadoran Supreme Court that rules on the constitutionality of laws, can make decisions. With this decree, which was pushed through the National Assembly by right-wing parties Gana, Arena, PDC and PCN, the Sala can only make decisions by the unanimous agreement of all five magistrates. In effect this would paralyze the court since one of the magistrates has radically different political views from the other four. Many see this decree as the right-wing´s reaction to court decisions this past year that chip away at the power of the mainstream political parties. The most recent court decision strips the PDC and the PCN of their right to be political parties because they did receive the percentage of votes necessary in the past elections to maintain that status.  The two parties will have to re-form with new names and colors and collect signatures before being able to participate in future elections.  To the great shock and disappointment of many, President Funes decided to approve Decree 743 instead of vetoing it. At Sunday´s gathering, Salvadorans young and old voiced their anger and indignation at Funes and the right wing parties. The Honduran delegation decided to show their solidarity with their southern neighbors by participating in the rally.

On Monday June 6th San Salvador´s commuters circling the Salvador del Mundo traffic circle were surprised to see yet another rally, this one decreeing the human rights abuses in Honduras. The rally brought together members of the MPR-12, including 40 or so CRIPDES folks, and members of the Honduras delegation. The protesters blocked traffic and marched up to the site of the OAS meeting. A block from the building, a line of soldiers, police and tanks stopped the march, but Honduran and Salvadoran community leaders continued chanting and expressing their mutual solidarity.

On the last day of the OAS meeting, while government representatives bemoaned the scourge of organized crime and strategized about how to combat it (including securing more aid from the United States), Salvadorans and Hondurans continued to protest in the streets of San Salvador. Despite all the OAS rhetoric about strengthening democratic institutions and protecting human rights, the people of Central America know they still have a long ways to go before their political leaders are forced to put their metaphoric money where their mouths are. 

To read more coverage of the OAS meeting, Decree 743 or the human rights situation in Honduras follow these links:

Diario CoLatino on the OAS- http://watchingamerica.com/News/77641/the-deterioration-of-the-oas/

Diario El Mundo on Decree 747- http://www.elmundo.com.sv/nacionales-/11445-magistrados-hacia-la-guerra.html

The Nation Magazine- http://www.thenation.com/article/161102/zelaya-returns-honduras-justice-still-not-done

Two Videos by the Real News about Zelaya´s Return to Honduras-

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=74&jumival=408

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=6840

 

 

 

Uninvited Guests on Thanksgiving: How the Occupy Movement Came to El Salvador

By Alexandra Early

Originally posted on Counterpunch.org.

At the U.S. embassy here on Thursday (Nov. 24), Ambassador Carmen Aponte held a gala Thanksgiving dinner for a select group of local and North American guests. Outside the castle-like embassy compound, there were some uninvited visitors as well.

Nearly 100 Salvadorans and U.S citizens gathered to display our solidarity with the global Occupy/Indignados movement in the first Central American OWS-inspired protest. The demonstrators included university students, environmental activists, and “gringos” (like myself) who work with human rights and community development organizations based here in the capital.

Like most Occupation crowds in the United States, this one was politically diverse.  Young members of the Communist Party waved Cuban and Venezuelan flags, while dread-locked musicians played the drums, and other participants held up homemade signs urging passing cars in one of the richest neighborhoods in El Salvador to honk for social justice.

But we were all united around a common concern, namely the impact of corporate globalization on working people here and in North America.

As the news media from El Salvador and throughout the region gathered round, various protesters explained how the corporate-influence policies of the Obama Administration were–in the name “economic development”–actually hurting the 99% in El Salvador.

“Free trade” between the two countries has not only destroyed local agriculture and production, victimized workers and the poor and increased immigration to the U.S., but also elevated corporate interests over national sovereignty. In 2009, for example, the Canadian mining company known as Pacific Rim utilized the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) to take legal action, before a World Bank tribunal, against the Salvadoran government for denying mining permits to Pacific Rim, as demanded by local environmental activists. Because the newly elected FMLN administration took a stand on the side of its own people and the environment, it now risks having to pay $77 million dollars in “damages” to Pacific Rim.

Alfredo Carias, of the Salvadoran environmental organization called La Unidad Ecologica Salvadorena (UNES), spoke about the broader environmental crimes of the U.S. government and the global 1%. As Wall Street Occupiers entered their second month of protest in New York and other cities in October El Salvador  was hit by some of the worst flooding in its history. Tropical Depression 12 E dumped ten days of unrelenting rain on El Salvador, causing 34 deaths, forcing 50,000 people to flee their homes, and leaving an estimated $850 million worth of damage to infrastructure and agriculture in its wake.

Organizations like UNES attribute the unprecedented intensity of this storm to climate change. But Ambassador Aponte was among the first to caution the public about blaming human behavior for this “natural disaster.”  The U.S. is one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases and a leading foe of meaningful international action to slow global warming. After the storm,  the Ambassador discouraged finger pointing , saying  “What is the point of placing blame? With what we have, we have to confront this reality.”

 

Confronting Reality Together, A Different Way

For me, the most important part of the first OWS-inspired protest in Central America was the collaboration it created between Salvadoran social movement activists and their foreign allies in helping to spread the idea of a cross-border movement of the 99%.

In October, I had the chance to visit several Occupy encampments, while touring the Midwest with other representatives of my organization, U.S. El Salvador Sister Cities. Along with two Salvadoran community organizers, we visited a General Assembly meeting at OccupyMadison, a rally organized by labor unions and community groups at OccupyChicago, and a lively march at OccupyCincinnati. One of my Salvadoran compañeros, Agustin, who has been a community leader and popular education teacher since the Salvadoran civil war, was initially unimpressed. He joked that what we were seeing was not the movement of the 99% but “the movement of 99 people and their tents.”

But as we traveled from town to town, I was filled with a pride in my country that I have never experienced before. I thought to myself that, finally, I have something, from back home, to brag about in El Salvador among the veterans of social justice struggles there. However, when I returned to El Salvador I was surprised that the majority of the people in my sister organization, The Association for the Development of El Salvador (CRIPDES) hadn’t heard anything about the Occupy/Indignados movement.

Very little coverage of OWS was seeping through the cracks of the corporate dominated Salvadoran media. Besides, most people had more immediate concerns.  Government and community organizations were scrambling for donations to help rebuild roads and homes in the wake of the flooding; they also needed to prepare for the food shortage ahead due to the resulting reduced harvest of corn and beans in the countryside. This year’s storm only exacerbated the problems Salvadorans face every day: gang violence, unemployment, poverty and woefully under-funded social services.

However, many of us “gringos” employed by human rights and community development organizations, continued to talk with awe and admiration about the Occupy movement. We mused aloud about how to bring OWS to El Salvador and stage our own protest, but we were accustomed to playing the safer, more typical role of gringos solidarios—ie accompanying the Salvadoran social movement not pushing initiatives or projects. We decided we would stage our own gringo protest in front of the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador. However, as we informed our Salvadoran friends about our plans, the younger, more Internet savvy ones wanted to participate. Working initially with a few local environmental activists, we began to recalibrate the OWS message, focusing on the way corporate greed and capitalism is negatively affecting El Salvador as well.

Click here to read the full article on the Counterpunch website.

Click here to see video coverage on TeleSur

Click here to read the coverage in the CoLatino Newspaper

 

Read more...

Salvadoran and international organizations held a press conference on Monday December 12th to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Mozote Massacre and denounce the impunity and silence surrounding this case and other cases of human rights abuses and violence committed during El Salvador's 12 year civil war. The organizations that signed on to the statement included Salvadoran social justice organizations like The Salvadoran Ecologic (UNES), The Association for Training and Investiation for Mental Health (ACISAM) and the Monsenor Romero Concentration. Solidarity organizations like Sister Cities and the SHARE foundation and  also participated in the press conference and signed on to the statement. Read the whole statement in Spanish here, or an article about it in the Diario CoLatino here

The Monsenor Romero Concentration Demands Justice on the 30th Anniversary of the Mozote Massacre

The Monsenor Romero Concentration calls on the national and international community to remember that on the 11, 12 and 13th of December of this year it will be 30 years since the Mozote Massacre, and to continue efforts to denounce impunity and demand that the Salvadoran government provide truth, justice and reparations for the crime against humanity. For this reason we declare:
1. Never to forget this cruel, inhumane and aberrant extermination.
2. We stand in solidarity with the families of the victims and with the survivors
3. We remember that those responsible for the massacres are members of the Armed Forces of El Salvador.
4. We denounce the impunity of this and other massacres and crimes against humanity, especially the murder of Monsenor Romero and its manifestations in our current time.
5. We demand that the Salvadoran government follow the recommendations of Report 177/10 of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights about the case emitted on November 3, 2010.
6. We urge the Salvadoran government to overcome past government's noncompliance with this report to provide truth, justice and reparations to the Salvadoran people for this grave violation of human rights.
7. We demand that the Salvadoran government:
    -Comply with its constituional obligations and international law in relation to human rights
    - Name a civilian as the Minister of Security and Justice
    - Cooperate with the Spanish legal system in its investigation, judgement and sanctioning of the material and intellectual criminals behind the massacres of the Jesuits.

 

 

Read more...

La Concertación Mons. Romero, hace un vehemente llamado a la comunidad nacional e internacional para tomar conciencia de que el 10 de diciembre próximo celebramos el 63º aniversario de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos y que los días 10-13 de diciembre del presente año se cumplen 30 años de la Masacre de El Mozote. Estas dos conmemoraciones nos invitan y comprometen a renovar esfuerzos en denunciar la impunidad y demandar del Estado Salvadoreño verdad, justicia y reparación por el execrable crimen de lesa humanidad cometido en El Mozote y lugares aledaños. Por eso manifestamos que:

1.     Nunca olvidamos este cruel, inhumano y aberrante exterminio. Los días 10, 11, 12 y 13 de diciembre de 1981, fueron torturados y masacrados alrededor de un millar de salvadoreñas y salvadoreños, en su mayoría niños y mujeres; sabemos que el ataque indiscriminado contra la población civil inició en el caserío El Mozote, continuó en el cantón La Joya, los caseríos Ranchería, Los Toriles y Jocote Amarillo, y culminó en el cantón Cerro Pando y la cueva del Cerro Ortiz.[1]

2.     Nos solidarizamos con las y los familiares de las victimas ejecutadas en las masacres y con las y los sobrevivientes que fueron vulnerados en sus derechos, porque les destruyeron sus viviendas, les arrebataron o eliminaron sus medios de subsistencia y fueron desplazados forzosamente.

3.     Recordamos a los ciudadanos del 2011 que los responsables de las masacres son miembros de la Fuerza Armada de El Salvador y altas autoridades del Estado Salvadoreño. Se trata del Batallón Atlacatl, bajo el mando de: el Teniente coronel Domingo Monterrosa, Comandante del Batallón Atlacatl; el Comandante del Destacamento Militar de San Francisco Gotera; el Comandante en jefe de la Brigada de Infantería de San Miguel; el Mayor Cáceres Cabrera del Batallón Atlacatl; el Capitán Salazar del Batallón Atlacatl; y cuatro capitanes del Batallón Atlacatl. Se ha evidenciado, documentado y denunciado, asimismo, la responsabilidad del Alto Mando de la Fuerza Armada, oficiales; General José Guillermo García, Ministro de Defensa; General Juan Rafael Bustillo,  Comandante de la Fuerza Aérea[2].

4.     Denunciamos la impunidad de esta y otras masacres y otros crímenes de lesa humanidad, especialmente el de Mons. Romero y sus manifestaciones en nuestra realidad actual.

a.     El Estado Salvadoreño ratificó la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos, el 23 de junio de 1978; aceptó la competencia contenciosa de la Corte Interamericana del los Derechos Humanos, el 6 de junio de 1995; ratificó, asimismo, la Convención Interamericana para Prevenir y Sancionar la Tortura, el 5 de diciembre de 1994; la Convención para Prevenir, Sancionar y Erradicar la Violencia contra la Mujer, el 26 de enero de 1996. A pesar de la Constitución Política del país y estos compromisos internacionales, el órgano judicial ha negado a las víctimas, sus familiares y a la sociedad civil, los derechos a la verdad, la justicia y la reparación por estos crímenes contra la humanidad.

b.    En la actualidad, esta misma impunidad es la que explica y genera la alarmante desigualdad en la aplicación de la ley y la justicia, pues se investiga, juzga, y sanciona a los descalzos, mientras se protege a los responsables de crímenes cuando representan poderosos intereses económicos, sociales, políticos e ideológicos. Así se entienden la perpetración de los delitos y crímenes que enlutan al pueblo salvadoreño, por ejemplo, los asesinatos de luchadores ambientalistas y de derechos humanos, masacres de jóvenes, el sicariato, el crimen organizado, narcotráfico, y los feminicidios.

5.     Exigimos al Estado Salvadoreño cumplir con las recomendaciones del Informe 177/10,  de la Comisión Interamericana de los Derechos Humanos sobre el caso n. 10,720: Masacres de El Mozote y lugares aledaños, emitido el 3 de noviembre de 2010. La Comisión encontró que el Estado es responsable de las múltiples violaciones de derechos humanos, por lo cual emitió las siguientes recomendaciones:

a)     Reparar adecuadamente las violaciones de derechos humanos declaradas en el presente informe tanto en el aspecto material como moral, incluyendo el establecimiento y difusión de la verdad histórica de los hechos, la recuperación de la memoria de las víctimas fallecidas y la implementación de un programa adecuado de atención psicosocial a los familiares sobrevivientes;

b)    Establecer un mecanismo que permita, en la mayor medida posible, la identificación completa de las víctimas ejecutadas en las masacres de El Mozote y lugares aledaños y proveer lo necesario para dar continuidad a la exhumación, identificación y devolución de los restos mortales de dichas víctimas, según los deseos de sus familiares. Asimismo, este mecanismo deberá facilitar la identificación completa de los familiares de las víctimas ejecutadas, de manera que puedan ser beneficiarios de las reparaciones dispuestas en virtud del numeral anterior;

c)     Dejar sin efecto la Ley de Amnistía General para la Consolidación de la Paz en cuanto impide la investigación, juzgamiento y sanción de los responsables de violaciones a los derechos humanos y los derechos de las víctimas a la verdad, justicia y reparación. Asimismo, se deben eliminar otros obstáculos de iure o de facto como prácticas de autoridades judiciales o investigativas;

d)    Independientemente de la recomendación anterior, proceder inmediatamente a investigar de manera imparcial, efectiva y dentro de un plazo razonable con el objeto de esclarecer hechos en forma completa, identificar a los autores intelectuales y materiales e imponer las sanciones que correspondan. En el cumplimiento inmediato de esta obligación las autoridades salvadoreñas no pueden invocar la vigencia de la Ley de Amnistía General para la Consolidación de la Paz;

e)     Disponer las medidas administrativas, disciplinarias o penales correspondientes frente a las acciones u omisiones de los funcionarios estatales que contribuyeron a la denegación de justicia e impunidad en la que se encuentran los hechos del caso o que participaron en medidas para obstaculizar los procesos destinados a identificar y sancionar a los responsables; y

f)      Adoptar las medidas necesarias para evitar que en el futuro se produzcan hechos similares, conforme al deber de prevención y garantía de los derechos humanos reconocidos en la Convención Americana. En particular, implementar programas permanentes de derechos humanos y derecho internacional humanitario en las escuelas de formación de las Fuerzas Armadas.[3]

6.     Urgimos al Estado Salvadoreño a superar el incumplimiento de verdad, justicia y reparación en las graves violaciones a los derechos humanos. Como el Estado Salvadoreño ha ignorado el Informe 177/10 de la CIDH en relación a la Masacre El Mozote, la CIDH trasladó el Caso a la Corte Interamericana de los Derechos Humanos, el 8 de marzo de 2011. Por su parte, Tutela Legal, del Arzobispado de San Salvador, y el Centro para la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional, como peticionarios, presentaron ante la Corte Interamericana de los Derechos Humanos la demanda respectiva contra el Estado Salvadoreño, el 14 de agosto de 2011.

7.     Demandamos del Estado Salvadoreño:

a.     Hacer realidad la verdad, justicia y reparación en el Caso de la Masacre El Mozote. El silencio, lentitud y no totalidad en el cumplimiento significan revictimizar a los masacrados por el Batallón Atlacatl, oficiales involucrados y el Alto Mando de la Fuerza Armada, y seguir ofendiendo sistemáticamente a sus familiares, la sociedad salvadoreña y la humanidad entera.

b.    Cumplir fiel y totalmente con sus obligaciones constitucionales y el derecho internacional en materia de derechos humanos.

c.     Nombrar un civil como Ministro de Seguridad y Justicia, como prueba fehaciente de que la seguridad pública será siempre una atribución y responsabilidad civil, según la Constitución Política de nuestro país, el espíritu y letra de los Acuerdos de Paz, el derecho internacional y una genuina cultura democrática.[4]

d.    Cooperar con la justicia española para investigar, juzgar, y sancionar a los actores materiales e intelectuales de la masacre de los jesuitas y sus dos colaboradoras.

8.     Invitamos al pueblo salvadoreño a:

a.     Exigir del Estado cumplir con sus deberes constitucionales de verdad, justicia y reparación por su responsabilidad en las graves violaciones a los derechos humanos, como en los casos de la Masacre El Mozote, el Magnicidio de Mons. Romero, y otros crímenes de lesa humanidad por los cuales ha sido demandado, encontrado responsable y respectivamente sancionado.

b.    Defender y promover los derechos humanos, en razón de la soberanía que detenta, la vida y dignidad de los masacrados, el dolor de los familiares sobrevivientes a los exterminios en las masacres, el compromiso de no permitir que se repitan semejantes crímenes contra la humanidad.

9.     En cumplimiento del deber social y político de dignificar a las víctimas, recuperar la memoria histórica y garantías de no repetición de semejantes crímenes de lesa humanidad, hacemos nuestras las conclusiones formulada por la CIDH cuando afirma que:

“Las masacres de El Mozote y lugares aledaños, constituyeron un craso abandono de los principios más elementales que inspiran la Convención Americana. La cantidad alarmante de hombres, mujeres, niñas, niños y adultos mayores que perdieron la vida injustamente de manos del Batallón Atlacatl, deben quedar en la memoria de la sociedad salvadoreña de manera que hechos como los descritos en el presente informe nunca vuelvan a repetirse. Es deber impostergable del Estado de El Salvador saldar la deuda histórica con la memoria de las víctimas, con sus familiares sobrevivientes y con toda la sociedad, quienes pasados casi 30 años de ocurridos los hechos, aún no han podido cerrar las heridas a través del conocimiento de la verdad y de la sanción a los responsables de estos crímenes de lesa humanidad. Sólo cuando esto ocurra, la sociedad salvadoreña podrá lograr la anhelada reconciliación nacional.”[5] 



[1] Cf. Informe de la Comisión de la Verdad, De la locura a la esperanza. La guerra de 12 años en El Salvador, Editorial Arcoiris, San Salvador, s.f., p. 155-165; Tutela Legal del Arzobispado de San Salvador, El Mozote, lucha por la verdad y la justicia. Masacre a la inocencia, San Salvador 2008 (TLA), p. 25-166.

[2] TLA, p. 359-374

[3] CIDH, Informe Nº 177/10, Caso 10,720: Masacre de “El Mozote” y lugares aledaños, El Salvador, 3 de noviembre de 2010.

[4] Cf. Constitución de El Salvador, art. 159, par.2-3; Acuerdo de Paz de El Salvador(16.01.1992), I,1.E: en ONU-ONUSAL, Acuerdos de El Salvador: El camino de la paz, San Salvador 1993 (AdP), p. 49-50; Acuerdos de México (21.04.1991), I.b, en AdP, p. 13-14.

[5] CIDH Informe 177/10, No. 339