Thursday, May 18, 2006

All sectors protest levels of violence -- but should I write about it?

Loosely translated from an article by Juan Jose Dalton in La Opinion:

On May 17, representatives from civic organizations, business groups and politicians made a "shout to the heavens" to demand a stop to criminal violence that in the last 72 hours claimed the lives of 44 persons, including a family of 5, and put in question the anti-crime policies put in place by the last two governments of El Salvador.

To these protests of civic organizations and the political opposition were added the representatives of some of the most important businessmen in El Salvador. The National Association of Private Business (ANEP) warned that nobody wants to invest in countries where violence exists. Private business is more and more worried by the subject of violence since the last year when a United Nations study revealed that crime costs as much as $1.7 billion to the government and business.

Meanwhile the government made no change in its strategy, but increased the funding for enforcement. El Diario de Hoy reported Tony Saca's announcement that an additional $14 million will be designated for the National Police to combat gangs and violence in the country.

But should I write about this? From time to time people e-mail me or post comments on this blog complaining that I am putting El Salvador in a bad light. They worry that I will scare tourists away from the country. And they urge me to spend more time writing about the good things in El Salvador.

I have a few thoughts about that. First, it is true that there are more "negative stories" than positive ones on the blog. The balance reflects the balance of what the media writes about. Since my posts typically reflect what I find in the press, and the press writes about problems more than it writes about good news, the blog reflects that. I will try to adjust the balance somewhat going forward.

Second, I write from the perspective of someone who loves the country and its people and wants to see improvements in the life of the people. There can't be improvements unless there is a clear understanding of what problems exist and an open discussion of what solutions can be pursued. I hope this blog contributes in some small measure to that discussion.

Anyone want to comment?


El-Visitador said...

I love ES dearly and I don't find anything wrong with pointing out where it is that we err: if we would just stop blaming others (the Spaniards, the gringos, the maras, the rich world's subsidies, the Chinese competition, the multinationals, etc.), we might just realize that we build our very own little hell through our own actions, or lack thereof, as a people and as individuals.

Regarding tourism, there is much naiveté going around. Salvadoreans don't seem to realize that safety is pretty much a basic requirement, and our country is not safe. And I do not feel good about trying to sweep it under the rug. I love visitors, but visitors should have available blogs such as Tim's that make it clear that people here get kidnapped, robbed, and murdered at a comparatively high rate.

Another component of tourism is "pretty views" ---those we have, but we ruin about 90% through trash. Trash that pretty much everyone throws left and right. And so many prospective visitors would just be sickened by our trash. And Salvadoreans remain blind to simple basic requirements such as this.

I like this blog and I would change little about it.

You might wish to stop posting brain-dead W Post articles, though (you didn't think I was going to leave you off the hook that easily, did you?)


Mysterious Me said...

I feel like you should keep writing on what you see in the press based on your experience and knowlege. It is up to those who live there, Salvadoran and otherwise, to write about the good things we see and about the joys our lives (as well as the all the other things, good and bad, that make El Salvador what it is). I am interested in La Realidad...not a distortion of the reality!


I am glad to see that the previous posters support Tim's efforts, and so do I. A tourism that sees El Salvador through rose colored glasses is not the kind of tourism that El Salvador needs. Enough of the Romanticism and paternalism that seeks out Third World destinations for their faddish novelty or "exotic" charm. In this day and age, we need to grow up and see these destinations as real countries, inhabited by real people, with real hopes and dreams -- and foibles too.

Nelson said...

I love my El Salvador so much. When we start telling stories about Good life in El Salvador, we are going in the wrong way. Lies will run a thounsad kms. and the true will grab it in a second. Our El Salvador is in big trouble and we need to see our inner self to start changing our way of life here. We can write so many ideas, and none of them will be taking serious. Which ones are the answer to fix our nation problems?

better salries
less taxes
social programs like "red Solidaria?
kill useless government offices?
Use "sexual" education to decrease our growing populations?
free trade?
another agricultural reform?

There has been almost two hundred years that communisn took many smart people to its cause and never reached their goals. It has been proved that communisn did not worked out. We in El Salvador still want to play that obselete and ruined cause.

Corruption has to be stopped in all levels. Justice, education, economic, military, religion, media, etc.

mo said...

In my opinion, I love my country like any other Salvadoran.
I hate the injustices and the poverty over this nation.
But I trust that our faith in God it can move mountains.
Contrary to others that believe that only with weapons the things can be changed.
In the personal thing, I am tired of hearing only bad news about my country.
And it is not that I want to avoid the reality.
Simply that the recently last generation and the present one have only heard to speak about death.
And do I wonder, why not to begin blessing this land instead of cursing more with our language?
A clear example about to bless the land that it saw you to born it is in the fact the way that the United States does it in its hymn.
That is exactly what I want for my country.

Mr. Tim, please teach me to bless this country in the form like you make it in the United States.

wally said...

I agree with el visitador that people here in El Salvador get kidnapped, robbed and murdered at a high rate, but almost all of that involves nationals and not extranjeros. I´m not sure why, but it seems that those looking for victims tend to choose weak targets that will draw them as little attention as possible. In Iraq foreigners are chosen as targets for the publicity it will provide, but at least for now, foreigners here are passed over as targets for the same reason. It hasn`t always been that way, when we first came here three years ago our friends in NGO´s all had war stories about robberies, especially on the highway to the airport,but I haven´t heard any of those recently. People will steal anything that is not guarded or behind razor wire, but personal violence against extranjeros seems to be a rare thing here. If I´m wrong on this, and I could be, I expect to set straight, but this has been our experience for the time we´ve been here. And like all of the commentors, I love El Salvador, especially the people here.