My Experience in Seattle: a reflection by Eva Chacón, Central American Women’s Delegation

 

This entry was written by Eva Chacon, Social Worker at Fundación Calicanto in Panama, and a member of SIF’s 2012 Central American Women’s Delegation to End Gender-Based Violence. Eva describes her experience in Seattle and reflects on positive take-aways including the tools and examples of collaboration to address gender-based violence.

The 2012 Central American Women’s Delegation to End Gender-Based Violence program organized by the U.S. Department of State was divided into two parts: the first in Seattle, Washington and the second in Washington DC.  In this case, I want to share my experience during our time in King County (Seattle); a hub that serves as a nationwide model for laws, intervention, management, treatment, and prevention of violence.  King County also serves as a model in addressing the issue of “security,” in that it is seen as a problem which violates “individual human rights.”

It was painful to learn that domestic violence victims were killed in court by their abusers and that there are police officers who have killed their wives.  These specific occurrences caught the attention of civil society, which is well organized and has 30 years of experience fighting for laws that meet the needs of its citizens.

The agenda included various components, such as: Technology, Emergency Care centers, Shelters, and Law Enforcement.  During our stay we saw 20 organizations.  In visiting PATH, we participated in a workshop called “Walking in Her Shoes,” which allowed us to put ourselves in the place of a women victim experiencing domestic violence and helped us to recognize our own vulnerability to violence and bad decisions.  This is a useful tool for groups and communities.  PATH then gave us a tour of their facilities, presenting their new technological developments, which are aimed to help the most vulnerable populations.  We learned about HIV and STD tests that can be done through urine samples and will be available in 2015, food that has been mixed with vitamins and other nutritional supplements, female condoms that will be sold at low cost to increase accessibility, as well as other technological inventions. Read the rest of this entry »

Indefinite suspension of U.S.-Honduras anti-drug radar sharing

 

The U.S.-Honduran anti-drug program took another blow this month, as the U.S. announced it would no longer share radar intelligence with the Honduran military.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo News, Associated Press/Fernando Antonio. Honduran police unload packages of cocaine seized from airplane shot down by Honduran Air Force in July. Central America is a major crossing point for the majority of U.S. – bound cocaine.

The announcement comes in the wake of the Honduran Air Force shooting down two planes suspected of trafficking drugs in July. U.S. officials say the decision to shoot down the planes came solely from the Honduran side, and violated a bilateral agreement to not attack civilian aircrafts. However, the decision to suspend the operation was also presumably influenced by the joint operation in May that left four unarmed civilians dead.

The controversial program is now being reevaluated by the U.S., and its future remains in question. William Ostick, a spokesman for the State Department, confirmed, “We are reviewing the procedures regarding cooperation for interdiction between the United States and Honduras. We are doing a complete review.” U.S. officials also declared that no Americans were involved in the plane shootings, and that “remedial measures” would be implemented to prevent future attacks. These remedial measures were not defined, but will likely impact the anti-drug program between the two countries in some way. The head of the Honduran Air Force was forced to step down after the incident and it remains unclear whether there will be any future repercussions. Read the rest of this entry »

El Salvador’s Gang Truce Endures

 

Photo: Tomas Munita, The New York Times

The truce between Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18, two rival gangs in El Salvador, maintains despite mixed reactions from the government. The two gangs forged an agreement in one of the unlikeliest of places, a maximum security prison, where incarcerated leaders of the two gangs met to address the widespread violence that has claimed thousands of lives and landed El Salvador a ranking as one of the most violent countries in the world. Many gang members supported the meeting; incarcerated gang leader Carlos Tiberio Valladeres states, “We said we have to talk because things were getting out of hand. No one is going to tell you they want their kids to continue down this path.”

There are estimated to be between 30,000 and 50,000 gang members in El Salvador, while the active duty police force has about 15,000 men, according to a report by SIF grantee, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). This obvious disparity, coupled with the fact that as of last year the murder rate was the highest since the civil war, shows how vital a truce may be to the region. Read the rest of this entry »

About the blog:
This blog was created to support the Central America Network and encourage dialogue around relevant research, news and poverty alleviation efforts in the region.
twitter RSS