I have been delinquent in posting updates to the blog in the last week, so here's a short summary of some of the highlights of the week.
US approves $400 million from the Millennium Challenge Account for El Salvador. From Reuters:
The Millennium Challenge Corporation, which doles out U.S. foreign aid for anti-poverty programs in developing countries, said the funds for El Salvador would help develop roads and expand access to education, water, sanitation and electricity in the impoverished north.
El Salvador, led by conservative President Tony Saca, is a strong U.S. ally and has a small contingent of troops in Iraq.
But the country's isolated northern area is still scarred by a 12-year civil war in which the United States supported the right-wing Salvadoran government and its army. More than 75,000 people were killed during the 1980-1992 conflict.
MCC chief executive John Danilovich said the decision was based on El Salvador's commitment to sound policies.
Remittances hit record levels in El Salvador. From AFX:
Remittances sent home by Salvadorans living in the United States jumped 18.5 percent in the first 10 months of the year compared with the same period last year, the Central Reserve Bank said Wednesday.Commemoration of Jesuit Martyrs. November 16, 2006 was the 17th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter by members of the Salvadoran armed forces. The Share Foundation has this excerpt from the funeral homily:
In the January to October period, Salvadorans sent US$2.72 billion, up from the US$2.3 billion sent in the first 10 months of 2005. The bank noted that a 3.3 percent growth in the U.S. economy through September 2006 contributed to the increase.
The 2005 annual figures totaled a record-breaking US$2.83 billion dollars in remittances, surpassing the previous 2004 record of US$2.55 billion dollars, according to Bank information. If the current growth continues, the Bank expects to finish 2006 with more then US$3.3 billion in remittances.
Lovers of utopia, they were realists and they knew how to take baby steps when it was necessary. They had strong commitment to their values. They knew how to ask for and tell the truth in the middle of a civil war that polarized, divided, and masked reality. They knew to defend life, and that peace would proceed necessarily from the rights of the poor. They gave their all to rigorous study, which would make the light of truth even more evident and brilliant.
School of the Americas protests. This weekend, as in previous years, tens of thousands of protesters go to Fort Benning, Georgia to protest at the former School of the Americas, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. View details of the protests at School of the Americas Watch. Many of the worst violators of human rights in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s were trained by the US military at this institution.
US to resume training Latin America military personnel. The USA Today reports that the Bush Administration has quietly lifted a ban on training military personnel of 11 Latin American countries (not including El Salvador, however):
Concern about leftist victories in Latin America has prompted President Bush to quietly grant a waiver that allows the United States to resume training militaries from 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries.
The administration hopes the training will forge links with countries in the region and blunt a leftward trend. Daniel Ortega, an American nemesis in the region during the 1980s, was elected president in Nicaragua this week. Bolivians chose another leftist, Evo Morales, last year.
A military training ban was originally designed to pressure countries into exempting American soldiers from war crimes trials. The 2002 U.S. law bars countries from receiving military aid and training if they refuse to promise immunity from prosecution to U.S. service members who might get hauled before the International Criminal Court. The law allows presidential waivers.
The White House lifted the ban on 21 countries, about half in Latin America or the Caribbean, through a presidential memorandum Oct. 2 to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. A ban on giving countries weapons remains. Commercial arms sales are not affected, said Jose Ruiz, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command.