Day 7 – Tuesday June 21
Roberto Rubio, an economist, is the head of the second
largest think tank in El Salvador. We hear a little of his background, of how
he was the political spokesperson in Europe for the FMLN and he returned to the
country after the civil war. He talks about the current political situation and
how El Salvador is poised between democracy and not…He equates the recent act
of the Assembly requiring unanimous decisions from the Constitutional chamber
of the Supreme Court as a coup d’état (the first we have heard that concept
used here). It is quite an interesting viewpoint.
We ask ‘What would you do if you were the economic
minister?’ He goes on to elaborate on several ideas he would implement.
Obviously, his think tank has been working on many problems for the past 19
years and he has a wealth of ideas to implement. Bottom line: he would set
forth a strong vision for the country and explain to the people why ideas such
as tax reform need to take place, where the money would go, and what it might
do for the country.
Our second speaker has cancelled as he fell and broke his
elbow in two places. Instead, we drive by the
U.S. embassy which is a huge complex in San Salvador. As I pull out my
camera, I am told “Don’t take any pictures, they’ll arrest you!” Wow. OK, I
won’t take pictures – I’ll go to Google earth and check it out…
We take a long busride into the countryside. It begins
raining and I think “Uh-oh, I don’t have any rain gear with me.” But neither
does anybody else. It is supposed to rain in the late afternoon or at night,
not mid-morning. But it stops raining about 10 minutes before our destination
which is the gravesite of the four churchwomen who were abducted, raped, and
murdered by the military on December 2, 1980. A monument and chapel have been
built at the site and we hold a memorial service for them and all of the
martyrs of the war.
We continue on the road to a place outside the town of Zuatelecuo,
Los Marinitos. We join a meeting where community leaders of the surrounding
villages gather each Tuesday afternoon. People arrive by bus, on bicycle and
horseback. They discuss the latest projects, the one of most immediate concern
is changing the bed of the local river. It is only by accident that the
villagers have found out about this (amazing how some things never change) and
they have demanded that their voices be heard. It is possible that the river
project will flood several villager’s lands and the people are demanded more
discussion and study of the issue before the town proceeds.
We are given coconuts to drink from, the tops and bottoms of
the outer green husks have been lopped off, a hole to drink from cut into the
hard shell at the top, and the hole is covered by a slice of the husk to keep
insects from getting in. We drink from the coconuts during the meeting as the
day is hot and humid – much hotter than San Salvador. As we are leaving, we
notice a computer with a make-shift antennae grabbing signals for the Internet.
It is remarkable what the locals can do to connect to the modern world.
We get on the bus and begin the long ride back to our hotel.
I start dreaming of the pupuseria that we had gone to several nights before. I
find out others are interested in going, too, and we are all excited when we
hear that, indeed, it is to the pupuseria we are to have dinner.