Thursday, March 23, 2017

El Salvador, a place to learn about Resilience and Solidarity

I had the greatest opportunity to go down to El Salvador for the very first time to learn 

about the current battles and victories involving economic, social, environmental and 

agricultural issues. I have to thank Zulma from U.S Sister Cities - El Salvador for her 

moving presentation on the current issues in El Salvador. I also have to thank Victor for 

planning such an amazing and informational delegation, and most importantly I would 

like to thank all of the communities, and especially my host families for welcoming me 

(and the other delegation members) into their beautiful homes.  

Being in El Salvador for less than two weeks flew by quickly but in that little amount of 

time, I learned so much. I learned more about the country’s past than I ever would have 

in a book, the current struggles but I also learned the battles won, and how motivated 

the people of El Salvador are. In that short time, I also fell in love with the country, the 

landscapes and especially the people.  While there, what struck me was the 

overabundance of youth involvement. It was truly great to witness.

To be honest, when I signed up for the delegation I thought I would be doing hands on 

work in El Salvador but after spending some time in El Salvador, I realized that the act of 

solidarity is stronger than the act of trying to be charitable. Everyone that I met on the 

delegation were truly strong, inspirational and extremely motivated people. I (along with 

the delegation) visited many communities, from Guarjila , San Jose Las Flores, Aracato, 

to Carasque, and many more. We visited many communities and their projects, which 

were absolutely amazing! From the bamboo project in Las Flores, to the composting 

projects, and reforestation projects and the women initiatives. All of the projects were 

incredible. It was so great to see the empowerment of women and youth in the 

communities as well as the great organization and the strong unity of all of the 

communities we visited. It was also an honor to meet with many great organizations like 

MOPAO (Popular Movement for Organic Agriculture), CRIPDES and many more.  It was 

amazing to hear and learn about the great projects that are in store for the next couple 

of years.

While there were so many things that really stuck with me on this trip, there was one 

part of the delegation that really hit me and it was standing on top of the hill of the 

virgin of the resistance because of its extreme significance with the resistance of mining. 

The symbol of hill honestly speaks for itself and the people’s fight against mining. It 

made me realize that resistance is power. If it wasn’t for those people in the San Jose Las 

Flores standing up for their rights and environment, the mining company would have 

won, but it was the community’s persistence and energy that won the battle. There have 

been many battles won against mining, one of the most recent one being Cinquera 

municipality in CabaƱas, which is now the fifth territory free of mining. (Yay!) Though 

there have been many victories, there are unfortunately still many battles to be won and 

though there are still many battles to be won, it’s certain that there is no stopping the 

people of El Salvador from winning those battles especially those against mining and the 

use of agrochemicals, I also know for certain that I will forever stand in solidarity with 

the people of El Salvador.

There are so many places, and people that I didn’t mentioned in this small reflection but 

know that every part of this delegation influenced me in such a profound way. El Salvador 

is such a beautiful country, and people, both beautiful inside and out. Once again, thank 

you to everyone who welcomed the delegation and me with open arms.

Forever in Solidarity,


Thursday, March 16, 2017

US-El Salvador Sister Cities Solidarity Model

"I don't believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it's humiliating. 

Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to 

learn from other people."

- Eduardo Galeano

Solidarity is the most beautiful act that embraces the struggles from people to people 

to reach human dignity, and with it sovereignty of the people around the world. The 

Salvadoran communities have gone through brutal realities since the very beginning 

of so-called “Discovery of America”, and recently with the economy models, such as 

neoliberalism (In the same way, this cruel barbarity has prevailed in every country 

throughout America. It´s important to point out that there are some countries that 

have already started to break that chain of oppression). We know that the current 

economy model are affecting the vast majority of the dispossessed. It doesn’t matter 

your location in this world, but if you are not one of the owners of the multinational 

businesses, in some way you are affected negatively by this economy model.

It is in this way that U.S-El Salvador Sister Cities has been joining efforts for more 

than 30 years as alternative to work in partnership with small rural communities in El 

Salvador. Through these partnerships, which began in 1986 as a citizen-based 

response to the U.S. intervention in El Salvador’s civil war, Sister Cities members 

work to develop economic and social justice throughout El Salvador and in their own 

communities in the U.S. 

Nowadays, the U.S. committees and their sister communities share political and moral 

solidarity, and strategy and advocacy for common struggles for peace and justice.  We 

each have much to share and much to learn.

These are some ways of showing solidarity from people to people in Sister Cities:

 Phone calls/Video calls

Send letters /banners     


Advocacy work in US cities/Visiting communities in ES

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Struggles for Women’s Rights of Two Different Cultures

A perspective of a USESSC member living in El Salvador.

The struggle of women’s rights in the United States has a long history.  Although in March of 1776, 

Abigail Adams wrote in a letter to her husband, “remember the ladies,” it wasn’t until the 1830’s and 

40’s that the struggle really began with the abolitionist movement and the quest for women’s suffrage 

which finally passed in 1920. 

When I was growing up in the 1940’s and 50’s, 

women’s place was still considered to be in the 

home.  If women did work, opportunities were 

limited mainly to being a teacher, a secretary or

nurse.  However, in the 60’s changes were 

taking place.  I participated in one of many 

consciousness-raising groups whose purpose was

to raise awareness about our status, and the 

National Organization for Women was founded in 1966.  In January of 1973, the U.S. Supreme 

Court recognized that the constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman’s right to make her own 

personal medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion without interference from 


Women now have many more options in choosing a career.  In 2007, Nancy Pelosi became the first 

woman to be elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, and in 2016, Hillary Clinton was the 

first woman nominated to be president by a major political party.

Although progress has been made, there is still a long way to go.  The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act 

was passed and signed into law by President Obama in 2009 yet there is still an 8% pay gap between 

men and women in the U.S.  On average, a woman earns 80 cents for every dollar a man earns.  Only 

21 women out of a total of 50 members, or 21%, are serving in the Senate in 2017.  Women make up 

19% of the House of Representatives – 83 out of 435 members.  Only 4 out of 50 state governors are 

women.  Women, who want to work in fields typically dominated by men, such as construction type 

jobs, find that they are harassed on the job. 

As a frequent visitor to El Salvador, I can’t help but contrast the struggle for women’s rights in that 

country to that in the U.S.  Salvadoran women have the added disadvantage of living in a culture of 

machismo where domestic violence, unequal pay for equal work and women in poverty are norms.  

However, women here are very well organized and are demanding to be heard.  One area, which is 

extremely troubling, is the law against abortion for any reason including when the life of the mother 

is in danger or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.  This law has resulted in women 

who are serving time in prison just for having a miscarriage. 

However, I find encouragement in seeing women worldwide marching, protesting and demanding 

equity and equality.  We must continue the struggle and never give up until all women are treated 

fairly and given equal opportunities.  

- Ann Legg.