One word could undoubtedly summarize the past year with painful precision: Refugees.
A basketball court in this small town in western El Salvador was turned overnight into a shelter for some two dozen families forced to flee their homes after a recent escalation of gang violence.
Juana Morales is cooking one of the most popular dishes in El Salvador: pupusas, corn tortillas with different fillings. But hers are unique: they are not made with the traditional corn tortillas, but use Maya nuts, a highly nutritional seed that has fallen out of use but whose consumption is being encouraged in rural communities.
The ruling of the highest court to repeal the amnesty law places El Salvador in the dilemma of deciding whether the country should prosecute those who committed serious violations to human rights during the civil war.
El Salvador is debating reforms of the country’s privatised pension system, which could introduce changes so that it will no longer discriminate against women.
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.