Thursday, March 19, 2009


Our Election Observer Mission delegation arrived in Guarjila, Chalatenango, on Saturday afternoon, March 14, one day before the Presidential election. Guarjila is a community near the Honduran border and is a stronghold of the FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front). It is also the home of Radio Sumpul which has a Sister City relationship with WERU radio in Maine.

When we arrived, a blockade of the road into Guarjila from the north was in progress. This blockade had been set up over a week before because of concerns that Hondurans would try to enter the country illegally and vote for the ARENA party candidate. At first members of the community ran the blockade, but they were able to convince the National Civilian Police to take over this task. They informed us that a number of Hondurans without documentation had been denied entry. Their fear was that because ARENA had promised payment for their votes, the Hondurans would attempt to reach their destinations on foot.

Another indication of the community's activism was the formation of a human chain consisting of members of that community as well as those of San Jose Las Flores and Nueva Trinidad to block representatives from the Canadian mining company Au Martinique Silver from entering their communities in 2005.

We met with the Community Council who told the history of the community and of the priest who worked there for many years, Jon Cortina. Most of the residents of the community did not live there before the war, though they did live in the region around Guarjila. The community has fond memories of Fr. Cortina who, during the war, was a voice of opposition like the other Jesuits who were assassinated in the University of Central America on November 16, 1989. The reason Cortina survived is that he was in Guarjila at the time of the assassination. They also spoke of their optimism and hope surrounding the election and their firm belief that Mauricio Funes would win.

Before leaving, we visited the radio station where one of our members made a brief statement about the role of election observers and answered a few questions from the announcer. For more information about Radio Sumpul and its sister station in Maine click on this link:

No comments: