Yesterday was the run-off election in El Salvador. This morning, there is uncertainty and tension in the air because no one has emerged as a winner in the tight Presidential race. That hasn’t stopped both sides from claiming victory as just a few thousand votes separate the two candidates. There have been claims of fraud, and tensions are high. Last night we could hear one of the parties celebrating in the streets. We could hear politicians shouting over the microphones as their supporters responded with cheers and fireworks. This morning I encountered police barricades surrounding the streets close to where election officials are working to find a winner after protests last night. It is clear that whoever wins will have to take into account that a full half of the […]
There is a powerful video by Save the Children circling social media networks this week. The video shows a year in the life of a young British girl. The goal is to bring awareness to the plight of children in Syria, by urging Westerners to imagine their child forced into the trauma that children face in countries torn apart by conflict. As I watched the video, tears came to my eyes. Tears for children in Syria, and in every other country at war today. But the tears were for my friends too. The truth is that many of my friends grew up in a conflict zone right here in El Salvador. During the 80s while I was attending parties, and going to school, and riding my bike safely around my neighborhood, […]
Today Presidential elections are being held in El Salvador. A new President is elected every 5 years, so this is the first time we have been in the country for a presidential race. Things are a little different in El Salvador, as we saw this morning as we drove to church and passed buses with various party colors weaving through traffic to get voters to the polls. The polling places had the usual traffic you see in the States, plus pick-up trucks waving party flags lining up to drop off passengers. El Salvador also has some unique policies for elections. We read in the paper yesterday that polling places are established along gang lines so that no one has to cross into another gang’s territory to cast their ballot. In […]
Yesterday marked 21 years since a peace agreement brought an end to El Salvador’s brutal civil conflict. The war lasted for 12 years and claimed the lives of over 75,000 Salvadorans. Many left El Salvador and never came back, others went missing and were never found. The American memory has to look a long way back to remember an armed conflict fought on U.S. soil. That’s not true in El Salvador. One friend shared with me how her father died in the eastern part of the country after being recruited to fight for the government. She was too young to remember. Another friend told me of the late-night flight from his home with the sounds of heavy artillery slicing through the air. Still another recalls diving under his desk because the fighting had reached the […]
Today when I was reading the news online, I came across a story highlighting El Salvador’s gang truce. The truce means the murder rate has fallen significantly, but many Salvadorans remain suspicious. Check out the story by the BBC for a glimpse into a prison housing gang members, and some of the story behind El Salvador’s gang problems. It’s definitely worth reading.
This past weekend driving around San Salvador I noticed quite a few people wearing T-shirts featuring the face of Archbishop Óscar Romero. It has been 32 years since his assassination during the civil war, but he remains an important figure in El Salvador. Here are a few of his words reflecting his heart for the poor, for human rights, and for justice. “This is the church that I want. A church that does not rely on the privileges and the worth of earthly things. A church ever more detached from earthly things, so that she can judge them more freely from her perspective of the Gospel, from her poverty. ” (from a sermon, August 28, 1977) “Defense of human rights, equality, and freedom is not only a matter of policy. It is a matter […]
This is a picture of a recent assignment that Tori completed for her first grade class. Each student needed to explain and illustrate basic rights of all children. They chose five that they thought were important to include in their project. Under the title, “Children’s Rights” Tori chose to include: the right to eat, the right to clean water, the right to have a name, the right to health, and the right to learn. These were the rights that she felt were most important for all children everywhere. As a first grader, I don’t think I ever thought about children’s rights around the world. I took it for granted that I had a name, food and water, a doctor’s office to visit,and a school to attend. During the 80s, while […]
September 15th is Independence Day in El Salvador! We are so grateful for this beautiful country that has welcomed us so warmly. This is how we celebrate El Salvador’s birthday… By dressing up in traditional Salvadoran clothes… …marching into a special assembly with the “big kids”… …waving the Salvadoran flag… …marching with classmates… …looking cute and happy… …proudly displaying our handmade Salvadoran flag… …acting goofy on the day off from school… …and sporting Salvadoran football jerseys. Happy Birthday El Salvador! We love you!
“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself’.” (Matthew 22:37-39) Yesterday we attended a church service in a little church that meets in the garage of the pastor’s house. The church exists to make a difference in their neighborhood. It is situationed in an area that has a lot of things working against it. Part of the community is home to those who lost everything back during the civil war from 1980-1992. They were given this stretch of land to build new homes. The homes are made of of pieces of wood, sheet metal, and any other materials that people can find to make […]
On December 11, 1981 a horrific event took place in the town of El Mozote located up on a mountain in the department of Morazán. The government troops decided to repress the guerilla movement by killing around 750 men, women, and children in a terrible massacre in the town square. The people were systematically killed. The men were interrogated, tortured, and shot. The women and young girls were raped and then machine gunned. Children were locked in a church, shot, and then the building was burned to the ground. After leaving the town square more people were killed in the surrounding communities. In the end, 1,000 Salvadorans were dead. It was a human rights atrocity of the worst kind. A cover-up followed as the government insisted this was a false claim by the […]