Doris Zabala squats down in the field to pull up radishes. She is working on a prison farm in El Salvador, where more and more penitentiaries are incorporating agricultural work and other activities to keep prisoners busy.
Sitting in front of a pile of coffee beans that she has just picked, Ilsy Membreño separates the green cherries from the ripe red ones with a worried look on her face, lamenting the bad harvest on the farm where she works in western El Salvador and the low daily wages she is earning.
Knife in hand, Domitila Reyes deftly cuts open the leaves covering the cob of corn, which she carefully removes from the plant – a process she carries out over and over all morning long, standing in the middle of a sea of corn, a staple in the diet of El Salvador.
In the last 15 years, El Salvador has managed to reduce the proportion of hungry people living in extreme poverty by four percentage points. But they still represent 12.4 percent of the population, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Idalia Ramón and 10 other rural Salvadoran women take portions of the freshly ground chocolate paste, weigh it, and make chocolates in the shapes of stars, rectangles or bells before packaging them for sale.
International and local human rights groups are carrying out an intense global campaign to get El Salvador to modify its draconian law that criminalises abortion and provides for prison terms for women.
The resurgence of violent crime in El Salvador is giving rise to a hostile social environment in El Salvador reminiscent of the country’s 12-year civil war, which could compromise the country’s still unsteady democracy.
The participation of children and teenagers in the sugar cane harvest, a dangerous agricultural activity, will soon be a thing of the past in El Salvador, where the practice drew international attention 10 years ago.
Textile companies that make clothing for transnational brands in El Salvador are accused of forging alliances with gang members to make death threats against workers and break up their unions, according to employees who talked to IPS and to international organisations.
Nearly three years after the rights of El Salvador’s indigenous people were recognised in the constitution, there are still no public policies and laws to translate that historic achievement into reality.
Despite the aggression and abuse she has suffered at the University of El Salvador because she is a trans woman, Daniela Alfaro is determined to graduate with a degree in health education.
The memory of a priest killed shortly before civil war broke out in El Salvador is so alive in this small town that it is now the main attraction in a community tourist initiative aimed at providing employment and injecting money into the local economy.
The upcoming municipal and legislative elections in March and the hiring of former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani as a kind of anti-crime tzar are not the best equation for bringing down El Salvador’s high murder rate, analysts say.
At the age of 74, Carmen López has proven that it’s never too late to learn. She is one of the 412 people in this small town in central El Salvador who recently learned to read and write.
Julio César Cordero’s American dream didn’t last long. He was trying to reach Houston, Texas as an undocumented immigrant but was detained in Acayucán in southeastern Mexico. And like thousands of other deported Salvadorans, he doesn’t know what the future will hold.