Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad
As we close yet another year of hard work, challenges, successes, advances and solidarity, we want to share our year end report with you.
See below the letter from Executive Director Leslie Schuld, and to see the full report which breaks down successes and challenges of each area, you may download it here.
“Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil. The greatest way to do that is through love. I believe firmly that love is a transforming power that can lift a whole community to new horizons of fair play, good-will, and justice.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
”I am not public security; I am a soldier of war. I do not bring piñatas, candy or kisses; I can only offer you bullets.”-Colonel of the Salvadoran Armed Forces.
San Salvador, December 2016
As CIS evaluates the situation in El Salvador and our work for 2016, we are filled with hope at the advances in community organization which are building opportunities to escape poverty, respect for human rights, formation and education at the service of the community and a dignified life. Your support and solidarity work with the CIS is making this possible. We take this opportunity to express our gratitude, share our year-end report and ask you to renew your commitment to CIS solidarity work.
First, we express satisfaction of the great collaborative effort to build 63 dignified homes, sewage system and potable water in the Romero Community, and at the same time form a women’s indigo and organic agriculture project,
provide scholarships and clean water, and accompany Romero Community and neighboring communities to work for human rights.
CIS efforts with the Romero community have been a concrete example that there is an alternative to violence: treating people with respect and dignity, community organizing, providing opportunities for education and employment – can change a systematic pattern of violence and oppression. We hope others take note and follow this example as some neighboring communities have that are cleaning up graffiti and asking us to work with their young people so they can have a future free of violence. The Human Rights Procurators Office has taken notice also following up on human rights violations carried out by the military which other communities are too afraid to report.
However, CIS is concerned about the human rights violations carried out by the military since the Legislative Assembly unanimously passed emergency measures to combat gangs, allowing security forces to shoot and ask questions later and prohibiting dialogue. While the measures have contributed to lowering delinquency temporarily, they have been used indiscriminately against the poor. Whereas last year our youth were threatened by gangs; this year youth have been beaten up and threatened with death by the military and falsely accused of being gang members. We have similar reports around the country and even in areas where no gangs exist. The young people are caught between a rock and a hard place.
Many victims are migrating to the United States seeing no alternative.
When they are beat by the military they are told they will be killed if they are seen again. Two of the auxiliary workers that helped build the Romero homes were extra-judicially executed by the military. Witnesses and family members have been threatened with death if they report the abuses. CIS is working to strengthen its human rights work and to build a culture of peace in the face of these violations from both gangs and government authorities.
El Salvador needs your support, visits and people to listen. Some say the increase in violence, feminicides and corruption is not related to the civil war. But it is directly related because old wounds have never been healed and there has not been the political will and/or capacity to address the root causes of the civil war or the current social violence. For these reasons we ask you to continue your visits, exchanges and volunteer work. We also ask you to strengthen CIS work with a year-end tax-deductible donation for:
1. CIS General scholarship Fund. CIS is building a general scholarship fund to generate stability for the long term – a safety net to make sure all those who are studying have the opportunity to complete their studies, start-up funds for new programs, and a gender scholarship fund to help those who have been discriminated against because of their gender to overcome marginalization. This scholarship fund supports annual scholarship retreats and coordination. University scholarships are $1,000 per year; High School scholarships are $300 per year.
2. CIS School for Solidarity and Social Transformation. Living in an environment of human rights violations, this leadership training gives community leaders, young, old, women, analytical skills to devise community development strategies and carry out the dreams they have for themselves, their community, and their country. $200 pays for one person’s participation in CIS school in 2017, including food, lodging and materials.
3. Romero Building Fund. Now that we have finished building the homes, the Romero Community has become a focal point for a culture of Peace in this high risk area for youth. CIS objectives are to develop a recreation site with softball, soccer and a playground for young and old alike to have a healthy place to gather and have fun. The Romero Community is working with CIS with youth in 3 neighboring communities that have been stigmatized for their condition of being poor and for the presence of gangs in the area.
We look forward to hearing from you. Blessings and Solidarity
To see the full report which breaks down successes and challenges of each area, you may download it here.