Friday, June 5, 2009

New FMLN President in El Salvador - invokes Romero!

El Salvador Inaugurates its First Leftist Government

On June 1 2009, Mauricio Funes and Salvador Sanchez Cerén were sworn in as the President and Vice President of El Salvador at the Feria Internacional Convention Center in San Salvador. It was a magical day for the Salvadoran people, social movement organizations, and the leftist FMLN party which Funes and Sanchez Cerén represent. Check out a video of the celebration here and view pictures of the inauguration here and here.

In a powerful inaugural address, President Funes promised that the change the people asked for with the election of the FMLN “begins now” and is in the hands of the people, not just the individual will of the President. He vowed to work with sectors of the social movement to “create a new national project” based on social inclusion and guided by the forces of hope and optimism.

Several steps that he and cabinet members, who were sworn in immediately following the ceremony, will take to confront the deep economic and social crisis in El Salvador include an employment program to build over 25,000 new houses, a central bank to guarantee credit to small-scale agricultural producers, and the re-imagination of the Rural Community Solidarity Network to guarantee access to health, nutrition and free public education for the most vulnerable sectors of society.

The address was imbued with the themes of social justice, equality, and of a “peaceful and democratic revolution.” He stated that El Salvador would no longer have a “government of the few, of the privileged” but one where all people would be “recognized for their talents and honesty, not for their connections or their last name.” He spoke of his teacher and mentor, Monsenor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, whose tomb he visited the morning of the inauguration and whose vision of a “preferential option for the poor” was a pillar in Funes’ discourse during the campaign.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Honduras Earthquake Updates from Jesuits in the region

Find below two, short narratives from Jesuits (MIS Province) living in the region about the 7.1 earthquake the struck the Atlantic coast of Honduras on Thursday, May 28, 2009.

Dick Perl
have been through about 8 of these quakes in three different countries (Belize, Guatemala and Honduras), but today's shake at 2:25 am wins the prize.

I was awakened with the whole house shaking. My room is on the second floor, and at one point I thought, "The whole house is going down." The 7 foot high bookcase in my room (and another one like it in my office on the first floor) fell over. It fell across my door -- if I had had to get out quickly, it would have taken me a couple minutes to move the book case and books piled up in front of the door. Lamps on desks through the house also fell over. I couldn't believe the noise of the house shaking.

It lasted about a minute.

The 7.1 quake (which is pretty strong), had its center in the Caribbean about 85 miles from Punta Gorda. It was felt as far north as Mexico, and as far south as Nicaragua, and even some islands in the Caribbean. Relatively little damage in Belize, fortunately.

Jack Warner
Greetings from a shaken and very shaky Progreso. Just to let everyone know, since we seem to be in international news: We had a serious earthquake last night about 2:30 a.m. It was a 7.1 intensity; the epicenter was at sea some 10 kms. to the north of Roatan.

Given the intensity, we got off light; the thing that saved us seems to be the fact that the center was very deep, and the quake itself did not last too long. No one is hurt either of the Jesuit community nor of the Teatro family.

The BIG damage here in Progreso is the bridge over the Rio Ulúa: there are (were) two parallel bridges which handled the two different directions. The older one (from the 60's) is completely fallen; the newer one (built by the Japanese government some 5 years ago) is closed for the moment due to serious damage which hasn’t been evaluated yet. That is a major problem which it is going to cost a good deal of time to fix.

The anti-earthquake design of the San José house served us well; a lot of shelving that fell over and left a mess of litter, and that sort of thing, but no serious damage to the building.
The teatro building suffered a lot of small damage, and is going to take a considerable amount of repair. It’s here that the shortness of the quake clearly saved us: most of that lesser damage is in joints of the wood, which have come loose but not completely apart. That all needs considerablerepair, but only the doors of the building actually fell (and a lot of stuff: file cabinets fell over, shelves collapsed, that kind of thing). The lighting system was seriously shook up, but as far as we can tell so far no major damage (we’re not real sure because there is no electricity in thatzone of the city – a number of transformers fell downtown, which seems to be the reason for that). The house right across the street from us (also an ex-fruit company building) fell.
So we’re spending the day picking up the pieces – literally.

I haven’t been able to get much reliable info yet on what was the damage in the rest of the country. There are serious alerts in all the coastal towns for the possibility of some sort of tsunami-like thing, but that danger seems to me to be very remote. There seems to have been only one certified death in this area, a child in San Manuel (near Lima).
teatro la fragua
apartado 70
el progreso, yoro
honduras, c.a.
(504)647-0974fax: (504)647-0907