Saturday, April 29, 2006

What Salvadoran bloggers are saying -- abortion and gay marriage

A variety of issues have been discussed in the Salvadoran blogosphere in past weeks. Much discussion went to Jack Hitt's article in the April 9, 2006 Sunday New York Times Magazine titled Pro-Life Nation. In the article, Hitt describes El Salvador's complete criminalization of abortion which includes the prosecution and imprisonment of women who have abortions, and there are no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. The article produced a spirited debate in comments on Tim's El Salvador Blog where some celebrated the "pro-life" policy of the government and others condemned the idea that a government which was not addressing poverty and childhood diseases could be considered as pro-life.

Meanwhile numerous liberal blogs commented on Pro-Life Nation by forecasting that it was the future of abortion law in the US if conservative groups had their way. Blog posts such as I have seen the future and it is El Salvador on the Carpetbagger Report or a post on Vox Mia are representative samples of these liberal blogs.

The next hot button social issue is same sex marriage. An amendment has been proposed to El Salvador's constitution to outlaw the possibility. Jjmar at the Hunnapuh blog calls the proposal a smokescreen. Jjmar points to family disintegration in El Salvador and the high level of households headed by a single mother as major problems leading to gangs and poverty, and yet the amount of attention given to the constitutional amendment would almost seem to suggest that gay unions are the source of the country's problems.

The same sex marriage amendment is one of a number of constitutional amendments being proposed in the waning hours of the current session of the Salvadoran National Assembly which ends at midnight on April 30. Many of the current deputies will no longer have jobs after that point as deputies elected in the March 12 elections take their seats on May 1. To become effective, a constitutional amendment must be passed in two successive sessions of the National Assembly. Jjmar at Hunnapuh points out that a constitutional amendment could be passed by a vote taken on April 30 and then another on May 1 with the new legislature. Such a process, the blogger feels, would create a bad precedent, showing that the basic laws of the land can be revised without much deliberation. The larger critique, joined by bloggers El Visitador and Tim, are that these constitutional amendments are being made without the voters on March 12 being advised they were part of the party platform.

In other blogs, Chuck Stewart has been regularly providing summaries in English of news from the Salvadoran press on his blog. Meanwhile David Kroodsma is an environmental activist riding a bike from California to the southernmost tip of South America to raise awareness of climate change issues. This week his blog describes his week touring through El Salvador, staying with firefighters and talking in schools.

In a series of posts, Claudia Milian, explores the meaning of "Salvadoranness" for a Latina US citizen. Milian addresses not having the nationalistic nostalgia which those in El Salvador assume "guanacos" living outside the country must have.

This post also appears on Global Voices.

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