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Day 7 in El Salvador

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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.

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