We arrive back at the Hotel Alicante to watch a documentary
filmed just before the FMLN offensive of November 1989. The film follows a
guerrilla leader of the FMLN as she and her group both plan for the offensive
and keep moving to avoid the Salvadoran army. What is remarkable is not just
the documentary, but we hear a little of Maria Serrano’s (her nom de guerre)
story since then. During the film she mentions several times that after the war
she is going to go back to school – it is her lifelong dream. After the peace
accords in 1992, she went back to school and became a teacher. In 1997, the
FMLN party begged her to run for an assembly seat and she won. But she was not
happy in the post and saw the corruption of the political process up close. She
left politics to return to teaching, but several years ago she was named the
Vice-Governor of her province. Then earlier this year, she was appointed to the
President’s cabinet and is now the Minister of the Interior for El Salvador.
And we get to speak with her on Tuesday as part of the immersion… pretty cool!
After lunch at the hotel we listen to a Justice of the
Supreme Court , Sidney Blanco, who was elected in 2009. What makes his election
so significant is that there were four people elected that year who are honest
and incorruptible, and all four were put into the Constitutional chamber of the
Supreme Court. That is, they rule on the constitutionality of laws in El
Salvador. There are other chambers that rule on civil, criminal, and administrative
laws. Sidney Blanco was an Assistant Attorney General in the late 1980’s and was
involved in seeking justice for those Jesuits who were murdered in November
1989. When it became clear that the then-Attorney General wasn’t going to
pursue the case, he quit and became the legal counsel for the Jesuits. His
reputation in the country is spotless.
He and his other honest colleagues have made a number of
rulings over the past two years that have really angered the ruling parties, so
much so that the Assembly passed a (unconstitutional) law two weeks ago that
stated that all rulings must be unanimous (there are five justices in the
constitutional chamber one of the justices who has been there before is of the
old school – hmmmm, shall we say less than honest? ) so the four new justices
would be stymied. The country is in an uproar over this law (though the
constitutional justices have ruled it invalid), the people have been protesting
in the streets (helped by Facebook and Twitter!), and the party that passed the
law in the assembly is now furiously backtracking as the people know that their
rights are being taken away and they know who is responsible. We could be living during a true turning
point in the history of the Salvadoran people.
We dine at Chevys, though not the chain from the U.S. Some
of us drink margaritas…the food is ok but the price is right (very reasonable).