Workers, students, union and peasant organizations, feminist groups, human rights activists, and even judges took to the streets on Wednesday in El Salvador. It was the country’s largest mobilization in decades. Among the issues being protested were the Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele’s decision to double the number of military troops under the pretext of fighting violence and crime. In reality, it’s about gaining support and surrounding himself with the armed forces. In addition, Bukele’s Bitcoin law has been widely rejected by people all over the country. The law makes Bitcoin legal tender across the country. While the President claims this measure will make it easier for people in El Salvador to send money abroad, many believe it will bring inflation and even greater instability. At the protests, people set fire to Bitcoin machines amidst the mass marches.
The Popular Resistance and Rebellion Bloc, a platform that brings together 32 social organizations, movements and unions and has been at the forefront of the recent wave of anti-Bitcoin demonstrations, stated that the measure “hit the working class, the peasantry and rural communities the most.” The bloc also highlighted that the majority of the population lack technological tools and high-end telephones to download and operate the government-backed electronic wallet app, known as Chivo. The organization also alleged that the electronic currency could cause an increase corruption and poverty in the country. Many economists warned that the digital currency’s lack of transparency could attract increased criminal activity to the country and make it a haven of money laundering as it does not record the identity of those who handle it.
Since the late 1970’s, the Christian Right is a consistent and influential voting block for the Republican party. They also helped fuel government violence and destruction in El Salvador. When people think of Christians in politics, most think of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision and the start of the “pro-life” movement. However, the rise of the political influence of the Christian Right actual begins in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. After the landmark win of Brown vs. Board of Education in the Supreme Court, schools receiving federal funding were required to desegregate.
Behind that jovial image of a president who takes selfies at the U.N. and governs over social media stands a strategic ally of the United States who has little regard for human rights. The social media presence of Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele has transcended his country’s borders on at least four occasions in recent weeks. The first was when he used the armed forces to militarize the national legislature; the second was a speech in which he announced measures he was taking to confront the Coronavirus pandemic, suggesting that his government’s response would be “an exemplary model” for handling the health crisis; the third was when his name and statements about “the use of lethal force” against criminals accompanied images of prison inmates in their underwear, sitting on the floor, crowded together in rows, with a heavy military presence standing over them; and the fourth was when he spoke to René, lead singer of the Puerto Rican rap group Calle 13, whose relevance will be discussed in a moment.
At least 138 people deported from the United States to El Salvador since 2013 have been killed, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch, which investigates human rights abuses worldwide. The 117-page report also says researchers identified at least 70 deportees who were sexually assaulted, tortured or kidnapped. Many victims were asylum-seekers attacked or killed by the gangs they originally fled.
A year ago, John Bolton, Trump’s short-lived national security advisor, invoked the 1823 Monroe Doctrine making explicit what has long been painfully implicit: the dominions south of the Rio Grande are the empire’s “backyard.” Yet 2019 was a year best characterized as the revolt of the dispossessed for a better world against the barbarism of neoliberalism. As Rafael Correa points out, Latin America today is in dispute. What follows is a briefing on this crossroads.
Barely six weeks have passed since the newly elected, right wing-dominated legislature took office in El Salvador, but recent frictions between security personnel of the legislature and university students protesting the potential privatization of water already paint a grim picture of things to come for social movements. During the month of May, parliamentarians moved to ratify the mining prohibition approved in March 2016 and to shelve all pending requests related to the mining file. At the same time, the Environment and Climate Change Commission, ECCC, moved to reopen a long overdue discussion on water legislation, hinting at the possibility of privatization. Since 2006, environmental organizations in El Salvador have pressured lawmakers to approve laws that recognize water as a human right and as a common good that should be publicly managed, with a focus on sustainability, accessible domestic use, and regulation of commercial and industrial use.
The Trump administration announced Monday it was ending a humanitarian program that allowed nearly 200,000 Salvadorans who fled catastrophic conditions in their home country to remain in the country legally. The program, Temporary Protected Status, was first opened up to Salvadorans—the largest group to benefit from the program—in 2001 after two earthquakes devastated the country and killed more than 1,000 people. The program was repeatedly extended through the Bush and Obama administrations as violence, fueled by gangs, made returning to the country alarmingly dangerous. The danger remains, but the Trump administration has argued that the program was never intended to last as long as it has. The administration has already rescinded the protections for the 59,000 Haitians who arrived after the 2010 earthquake and a couple thousand Nicaraguans.
By Sergio Alejandro Gómez for Granma - Rubio directly threatened the governments of the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Haiti, and in an interview with El Nuevo Herald, stating that the vote of these countries at the meeting on Venezuela of the OAS Permanent Council could have repercussions on economic assistance provided by the United States. Certain politicians strolling through the U.S. Capitol in Washington - the first bricks of which were laid at the time of the Haitian Revolution - still believe that Latin America and the Caribbean is the backyard that the United States must “put in order” from time to time. One such advocate of this obsolete U.S. ideology today is Marco Rubio...
By Robin Broad and John Cavanagh for The Nation - If you needed one more reason to take sides in the last great fight of the Obama years, that of the corporate giveaway package known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), here it is. Last week, the tribunal at the center of the proposed TPP ruled against a global mining firm that sued El Salvador, but only after seven years of deliberations and over $12 million spent by the government of El Salvador.
By Vijay Prashad for the Hindu and Counterpunch. The financial crisis of 2007-08 dented China’s economy and saw the slow deterioration of commodity prices. It took a few years for the economic impact to strike Latin America with ferocity. A sharp tumble in oil prices in the summer of 2008 put the brakes on many of the social programmes that had become essential to the Bolivarian dynamic. It signalled the weakness in the experiment against Western domination. President Barack Obama’s administration focussed intently on Latin America. Opportunity struck with the 2009 coup in Honduras against the Left-wing government of Manuel Zelaya. Mr. Obama recognised the new military-backed government. It opened the door to a more aggressive stance vis-à-vis Latin American states. The presidency of Peru’s Ollanta Humala (2011) and the second presidency of Chile’s Michelle Bachelet (2014) — both ostensibly of the Left — hastily drew in cabinet members vetted by the bankers and made their peace with the hegemony of the U.S. Chávez’s death in 2012 meant that the Bolivarians lost their most charismatic champion. The impact of the Honduran coup and Chávez’s death had made itself felt along the spine of Latin America. The U.S., it was being said, is back.
Four activists, who appeared in court on May 15th for a pre-trial status hearing, will have to return to Washington, DC on July 7, 2015 to stand trial on the charge of unlawful entry, which carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison. The four were arrested on April 24, 2015 at the Embassy of El Salvador where they staged a sit-in to call attention to 17 Salvadoran women currently serving extreme 30-year prison sentences for having had miscarriages. The charges are for aggravated homicide and receiving illegal abortions, though there is little to no evidence as to the causes of their miscarriages. Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana made international headlines last month as the first of the 17 to be released. "This is a grave injustice. Where there is injustice, silence is complicity," said Father Roy Bourgeois.
Textile companies that make clothing for transnational brands in El Salvador are accused of forging alliances with gang members to make death threats against workers and break up their unions, according to employees who talked to IPS and to international organisations. Workers at maquila or maquiladora plants – which import materials and equipment duty-free for assembly or manufacturing for re-export – speaking on condition of anonymity said that since 2012 the threats have escalated, as part of the generalised climate of violence in this Central American country.