David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Current Salvadoran Situation

The Current Salvadoran Situation When we left El Salvador in May, the winter rains had already started. This was unusual and the Salvadorans were unsure what it meant for the coming winter. We recently learned more when our friend Benjamin sent us the current outlook from FEWS.NET (Famine Early Warning Systems Network) providing us an alarming weather update. The eastern zone (the bread basket of El Salvador), approximately one third of the country plus other Central American countries are in life threatening drought. Farmers who borrowed money to purchase and plant corn and beans will have little to eat for next year or the means to repay the loans. The cost of beans has doubled in the market. The government is purchasing beans from outside the country to stabilize the Salvadoran market but the cost to the consumer remains too high. In Usulut├ín, the government raided the home of a local grain/bean proprietor to determine if he was hoarding staples of grain/beans to keep prices high (he was not). Another issue is that many coffee pickers haven’t worked for two years as the leaf rust has damaged the coffee plants and diminished the harvest. Wages have fallen for those working and picking coffee is already one of the lowest paying wages. Just before the inauguration of the new President, the level of killing escalated from 5 a day to one day of 25 killings. Earlier in August, four young men boarded a bus, drew toy guns and started robbing the passengers. A passenger who was armed killed one robber and wounded another. We have first-hand knowledge of our sister parish youth forced to leave school due to the threat of gang recruitment, intimidation, violence and murder. In the east the Chaparrastique volcano has been simmering all year; 5,000 residents have been on alert 24 hours a day to be ready to flee if necessary. This is the social and environmental situation in which Benjamin is establishing the large Community Development project we launched in April this year. Benjamin writes “the people are in a difficult situation and there is no mercy”. We are beginning to plan our return to El Salvador in November, doing so with heavy hearts. We will be visiting three communities – the school, our faith community and the food security site. The people may have higher expectations of us and our small delegation may be asked to meet needs that will be beyond our abilities. With our brothers and sisters, we seek justice and mercy for the many who are suffering. We pray for social justice, food for the hungry, winter rains, social and internal peace, a dormant volcano and a successful implementation of the Community Development Project. David y Nancy