Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Winter, Canada Day and Vacation

So it is winter in El Salvador.  This means that it is hot, rainy and the days are longer.  I would guess that every day is about 30 degrees Celsius.  As it rains just about every day, their is a lot more humidity right now and that is what can feel very uncomfortable.    It cools slightly at night and while I may go to sleep with only a sheet covering me, usually before morning I am looking for my light blanket.   The Salvadorenos/as are experts at knowing how to stay out of the sun and there are a lot of fans around.  There is some air conditioning in big stores and at the mall but it is not common.   In general everyone just copes with the temperature because it is always more or less the same.  However, having said that this weekend I was in my hoody for the first time.  It was raining, breezy, damp and felt a bit cool.  Fortunately that temperature was short lived!

The rain has been a new phenomenon for me.  There are occasional long, gentle rains rains, but usually the storms are short (about 20-30 minutes) but very, very intense.  Everything here is designed for drainage.  Everything slopes.  In Guacotecti, where I spend the week, mud is a particularly huge issue.  The soil is red clay (think PEI) and so is tracked everywhere when it is wet.  People here have a way of scraping their shoes before going inside so as to limit the amount of muck they take with them.  I marvel at the footwear choices of women here, who stay upright and keep their pretty shoes clean.  I sometimes struggle not to fall and I am often in running shoes! 

On Friday, it is Canada Day.  I have to admit, I am sucker for this holiday.  I love the annual yard sale that my Church holds.  I love wearing red and white and matching maple leaf earrings.   I love watching the concert and fireworks from Parliament Hill.  I love celebrating being Canadian.  This year I will celebrating much more quietly.  My new tradition is to share little chocolates with my colleagues on Canadian Holidays.  They all know that Friday is a "chocolate day".  I won't be handing out the pins and pencils with maple leafs that I brought.  Here the Canadian Maple Leaf is a symbol of the company that my friends and colleagues believe is trying to destroy their community.

However, I will be celebrating being Canadian.  I know that I can share my new knowledge and experiences with you and not risk being hurt or killed.  I know that I can call upon my government to do better.  So my friends and family, over the next several months I will be asking you to join me in doing a few such things.  Today, I am asking you to write or send an e-mail to The Hon. Diane Ablonczy -Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas).  In that communication I would like you to ask her to request that the Canadian Government ask the Government of El Salvador to fully investigate the death of Juan Francisco Duran Ayala and the other murdered anti-mining activists as well as all of the threats and intimidation.  As Canadians I believe that it is very important that we know whether what many Salvadorians suspect is correct -  that employees of a Canadian Company have acted illegally in violation of Salvadorian and International Law.  If in fact they have not, this is also important information.  Our reputation as Canadians is being deeply damaged.  The truth needs to be discovered and so appropriate actions can be taken.  The only way we will ever know who is responsible for what is happening here is if there is full and thorough investigation.   For more information please visit the United Church website, Urgent Action section -

This week the body of Juan Francisco Duran Ayala was exhumed and reburied in a cemetery near to his family home.  Thanks to a strong campaign here, his parents at least have the small comfort of knowing what happened to their son.  Today is the second anniversary of the killing of Marcelo Rivera, the first environmental activist who was murdered here.  The Salvadorians deserve to know who is organizing this campaign of terror and we as Canadians can help make this happen.  Please do.

Finally, I wanted to let you know that I will be coming home for a 3 week vacation in August.  I'll be moving around from Niagara Falls to Waterloo.  I hope to catch up with many of you then!


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