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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Oscar Romero Day Declared - March 24

SAN SALVADOR - The Salvadoran parliament Thursday approved a legislative decree which establishes the 24 March each year, starting this month, as the "Day of Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, former Archbishop of San Salvador and was assassinated by a squad of right-wing death in 1980, a fact that shocked the world and became one of the factors that led to the civil war in El Salvador.

Thanks to Tim's Blog for the link to this great news!

Romero by Romero 2

Here is part 2 of the trailer.

I will try to find out where to get the entire video

Romero By Romero 1

This is a trailer to a documentary on Oscar Romero - Part 1

This was posted on Tim's Blog


Saturday, March 6, 2010

El Salvador 2005 Journal XIII

What can the young people do? This is another question that we were faced with at Laura Lopez. The young people in these small communities are looking to their future. If a school is built it will prepare kids for high school. The next step becomes the challenge. It is very difficult for these small communities to get their kids to the next town to attend high school. Many students become discouraged at this stage and drop out. There is no sense that the government is ready to invest in the education of their citizens. There is

children of Laura Lopez

really very little chance that these students will make it to college or university.

In Suchitoto, PROGRESO runs a local scholarship program for high school students. High school scholarships amount to $80.00 a month. This covers food, transportation and the school uniform. At this point, seventeen students are receiving this assistance. These students are chosen from 75 local communities. Students are chosen for this assistance by a general community assembly. The entire family is assessed for their ability to support the student in their studies.

I have found in other countries that education is the key to development. In El Salvador the path to higher education is torturous. Only 20% of students reach junior high. At least 70% of the population don’t know how to write. The older population is uneducated. Teachers in the rural areas teach with a grade 3 education.

As a result, many people see that their only solution is to leave the country. This works out very well for the government. People who leave for jobs in Canada and the USA send home $250 million each year. This is a great boost to the economy with no outlay of money by the government.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

El Salvador 2005 Journal XII

Laura Lopez

One incredible thing about this community was their level of social organization. We were introduced to members of the school council, the women’s committee, the pastoral team, the youth group, the woman’s soccer team and the community directorate. Our welcoming committee had representatives from all these groups; they were our hosts for the day. Each committee member had an opportunity to present some aspect of the community’s history.

These people are very politically aware. You could say that when they originally settled in the area they were squatters. This is an area that was controlled by the FMLN during the war. The government, still controlled by the ARENA party was not going to make it easy for the people to gain control of the land. During the first election campaign in 1994, the FMLN won control of the local seat in Suchitoto, which has jurisdiction in the Laura Lopez area. With the help of the FMLN in the Legislative Assembly, the people were able to gain legal title to the land. With the help of groups like PROGRESO, they continue to make great progress. This is a community that has a vision for its future.

These people face great challenges. Each of them has their own story of struggle during the war. Most have family members who were killed during the war. In some cases they witnessed the death of a loved one as they tried to avoid the army. The land is rich producing rice, cucumber, squash, many varieties of corn and beans, green pepper and peanuts. However, Mexico exports cheap corn to El Salvador. Salvadoran farmers receive no support from their own government for fertilizers or pesticides. They have no access to long-term credit so farmers have no way to export what they produce. There is a feeling in this country that agriculture doesn’t work, that there is no way to compete with the agricultural giants to the North.

When you have a chance to see fields of beautiful corn and beans it is really hard to understand how this idea has taken hold in El Salvador.

At the same time, the Salvadoran Government wants to bring cheap goods into the country. CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, promises to flood El Salvador with cheap American and Mexican goods. El Salvador, struggling back from the devastation of a civil war has little to counter this flood of goods. We did not meet many people who saw any salvation in CAFTA.

To fight back, these people are trying to produce the goods that have sustained them for centuries. As they say, “Let’s do resistance with very concrete projects.” They are starting to look at very different economic models that can support a local economy. If these communities can feed each other and trade their surplus locally they may find a way out of the economic sinkhole they currently find themselves in.