To learn more about Salvadoran Pastors Ruth and Alex Orantes, and for information about contributing to support their ministries in El Salvador, please visit

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Theme of Peace -- Alex Orantes reflects on the public celebration of the Peace Accords in El Salvador

On January 16th, the people of El Salvador marked the 15th Anniversary of the Peace Accords signed in 1992 at the end of the war. We recently received this reflection in an email from Alex with his perspective on the current climate in El Salvador:

The theme of peace is very much in vogue in El Salvador, and it seems that it will be an issue to exploit politically in the remaining time until the next elections. The mass media, so prejudicial to the people and so aligned with the government, tear their clothes talking about the necessity of cultivating a culture of peace. But in principle you shouldn’t have to trouble yourself to make the theme of peace the center of the news and publicity. The problem is that they want to pretend to achieve it by way of slogans, cooperative agreements among the mass media providers. But in the reality of the people and their everyday lives, all this publicity represents no more than a new ideological manipulation.

While the people continue to suffer from hunger and poverty because of neoliberal politics implemented by the government, there will be no peace. While we have a significant percentage of Salvadorans illiterate, there will be no peace. While there is unemployment, while the employed earn unjust wages, and while there is no justice for those who were victims of the repression and state violence in the war years, there will be no space for peace. As a result, the government, private business, and the churches aligned with their interests change peace into a political tool, an ideology to manipulate the people and their common sense, in order to pacify them anew so that they seek internal peace only, their “peace with God,” and more important still encourage their indifference, acceptance, and harmony with the existing order.

BP translation

Alex Orantes
Shalom Baptist Church

Atiquizaya, El Salvador
January 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Salvadoran Human Rights Advocate to visit in March

The Salvador Partners will be hosting a special Salvadoran guest for the weekend of March 23-24. The visit with Maria Silvia Guillen, a human rights advocate and attorney, is being coordinated by our partners at the SHARE Foundation and coincides with the 26th anniversary of the martyrdom of Archibishop Oscar Romero.

María Silvia Guillén is a human rights advocate and Executive Director of the Foundation for the Study of the Application of Law (FESPAD) in El Salvador . She has extensive experience promoting the education and training of peasant farmers and women and has substantial knowledge of El Salvador ’s legal system, having specialized in and taught agricultural and constitutional law. María Silvia has worked to strengthen El Salvador ’s Attorney General’s office and has advocated for respect of the fundamental rights of individuals punished without due process. María Silva’s work has expanded beyond El Salvador ’s borders: she has served as Substitute Magistrate on the Central American Court of Justice, as well as a Judge on the Central American Tribunal on Water, thereby supporting the efforts of Central American nations to strengthen rights that have been historically ignored in the region.

Watch for specific details for the visit to follow.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Oscar Romero Lecture Series at Villanova

The Center for Peace and Justice Education at Villanova University has announced the upcoming Oscar Romero Lecture Series for February 20th through March 29th. The events will focus on the theme of "War: Facing Evil, Facing Ourselves," and will feature speakers lecturing on various topics including genocide in Darfur, war and rape, and the war on terror. There will also be special events to mark the 4th anniversary of the war in Iraq on March 19 and 20.

For complete details, visit the Center's on-line events schedule at

Friday, February 2, 2007

Microcredit resource list

Here are some links to a few resources about microcredit that may be useful background for our meeting on Feb. 11th.

SHARE used to work closely with ASMUR, a microcredit lending group in the Bajo Lempa, which had connections with the cattlewomen's cooperative (Mujeres Ganaderas). In fact, our newest SHARE Board member will be Angelica Garcia, who is the Director (I believe) of ASMUR. SHARE is facilitating microcredit lending via some of our grassroots projects with US sisters. -- from Tara / SHARE Director in DC

Main Line Unitarian microlending projects in Latin America
Article in UU World about microcredit projects in 2 congregations, including MLUC's project to sponsor village banks in Latin America. Task force co-chair Don Smith notes that many congregants have been drawn to support an anti-poverty project that is a business proposition and not a handout. Others are attracted by the fact that the money is lent to women.

"Millions for Millions" by Connie Bruck
Van Weigel recommends this article published in the October 30, 2006 issue of the New Yorker. About the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner and high-tech entrepreneurs who are competing to provide credit to the world’s poor.

Grameen Foundation - Main
With tiny loans, financial services and technology, we help the poor, mostly women, start self-sustaining businesses to escape poverty. Founded in 1997 by a group of friends who were inspired by the work of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, our global network of microfinance partners reaches 2.7 million families in 22 countries.

Grameen Foundation at work in Latin America and the Caribbean
El Salvador has severe poverty problems, but since the end of its 12-year civil war in 1992, the country has been working toward building stability. Microfinance is fairly well developed in El Salvador compared to other countries in the region, with 14 percent of the estimated demand being met.

ASAPROSAR and Las Melidas
Grameen Foundations partner institutions in El Salvador

UN International Year of Microcredit 2005
The year of Microcredit 2005 calls for building inclusive financial sectors and strengthening the powerful, but often untapped, entrepreneurial spirit existing in communities around the world.

What is Microcredit? Article by Muhammad Yunus (2003)
I am proposing that we put labels to various types of microcredit so that we can clarify at the beginning of our discussion which microcredit we are talking about. This is very important for arriving at clear conclusions, formulating right policies, designing appropriate institutions and methodologies. Instead of just saying "microcredit" we should specify which category of microcredit.