News from El Salvador this week:
- President Tony Saca started his 4th year in office on June 1. His first three years have been marked by polarization in political discourse, lack of progress on crime and security, and close relations with the Bush administration in Washington including the passage of CAFTA, a continued troop presence in Iraq, the opening of the International Law Enforcement Academy, and further extensions of Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans in the US.
- In his formal address to mark the end of the third year of his administration, Saca announced a plan to fund his initiatives for public security and education. These projects will now be funded through trust funds. The trust funds will be able to obtain international loans to finance their activities. The advantage to this mechanism? Saca asserts that creating the trust funds will only need a simple majority in the National Assembly, thus allowing him to circumvent FMLN legislators who have been blocking the international loans which require a two thirds majority vote by legislators.
- The rainy season has begun and already cost lives. Heavy rains earlier this week caused a landslide in the township of Berlin, where four people were killed. El Salvador watches nervously as hurricane season opened on June 1 with a prediction of a higher than normal number of tropical storms predicted. The rains this week were part of the system containing Pacific Tropical Storm Barbara.
- The PNC arrested 11 more people and charged them under the new anti-terrorist law in connection with the street vendor disturbances in central San Salvador on May 12. 11 of the 14 people originally arrested continue to be held under that law.
- El Salvador's national football (soccer) team is preparing to begin play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup which takes place at stadiums in the US beginning on June 7. In the opening round, El Salvador plays Trinidad & Tobago on June 7, Guatemala on June 9 and the US on June 12.