Segments in this Video

Introduction to El Salvador (02:49)


El Salvador has been linked to several radical governments: Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, and Ecuador. In 2014, Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) was elected president. Supporters discuss the result of the election.

Civil War (02:34)

The United States supported the National Republican Alliance (ARENA). Roberto d' Aubuisson explains that the leaders of the FMLN have not changed. The new government implemented programs focused on healthcare, prescription drugs, farming, and education— citizens discuss the improvements.

Education in El Salvador (02:33)

Aura Sofia Canas encourages her students to critically examine society. Hato Hasbun explains that education is not about memorizing information, but establishing a critical consciousness to motivate learning. Students debate about crime and postulate potential solutions.

Socially Responsibility (02:16)

Alba Petroleum donates computers for the school— the company uses its profits to overcome poverty within the country. In 1968, the National Teachers Union went on strike, wanting better working conditions and school supplies. Sanchez Ceren was a teacher during the 1960s and 1970s and remembers the strike.

Critically Evaluating the Government (02:51)

Ricardo Calderon created scholarships and exposed students to the farmers and workers that were being exploited. Students started organizing to create change— Calderon was jailed three times, kidnapped by a death squad, and forced to flee the country. Salvador Cordon describes how repressed the country was from 1978-1980.

Immigration to the United States (02:49)

By 1990, there were over a million Salvadorians living domestically in the United States. Rosa Candida Alas' home was burned down and she was forced to flee into the mountains during the Civil War. Las Vueltas instituted programs aimed at providing clean drinking water, aiding local farmers, education, and health.

Low Wages and No Benefits (02:16)

Vice Minister of Agriculture Hugo Flores explains ARENA government only supported large companies that exported coffee and sugar cane. These 14 families hold 40 to 50% of the arable land in El Salvador. Over 250 Salvadorians leave daily to pursue the "American Dream."

Creating a Solution (03:01)

Miguel Angel Guardado explains the government is helping educate farmers to be self-sufficient. Flores examines why ARENA's agricultural policies failed and FMLN's succeeded. Jose Luis Merino describes how Alba Petroleum implemented programs to reactivate the economy and create prosperity.

Challenges Remain (03:05)

Importing beans would be cheaper than cultivating the crop, but more farmers would be unemployed. In San Salvador, there is wide economic disparity— factory workers do not make enough money to survive. Damien Alegria describe programs implemented by FMLN to improve its citizens financial well-being.

Gender Discrimination (02:34)

Ciudad Mujer is a program created by the FMLN to fight gender discrimination and provide jobs for women. Veronica Medrano takes classes to learn skills she needs for the workplace. Ana Murcia cultivates vegetables in the garden and explains that the community as a whole will benefit.

Tu Solidaria (02:29)

Ana Reales explains without Solidarity's low interest loan, she would need to take out unofficial daily loans with a 15-20% interest rate. Jorge Schafik Handal describes the difference between his company and banks and investment firms. Maria Palacios is almost through paying off her loan, and will take out another to put in a dairy station in her shop.

Economic and Health Care Improvements (03:07)

Solidarity helps companies who expand public education— Handal describes how instituting a dress code for school children has generated an estimated 50,0000 new jobs. Jose Armando Flores Aleman explains that since the FMLN programs were introduced, poverty has been reduced by 5%. New government policies made health care free for the public.

Focusing on Prevention (02:44)

Manuel de Jesus Argueta describes a program to clean mosquito larvae that spread disease. Sex education is taught in schools, but students must ask the doctor or nurse directly for condoms. Violeta Menjivar describes how FMLN has almost doubled the amount of medical clinics in El Salvador in four years.

Prescription Drugs (02:11)

Cecilia Guadaloupe de Meija explains that before a national prescription plan was implemented, Salvadorians could not afford to buy drugs. Dr. Jose Vincente Coto Ugarte explains the specifics of the program implemented in 2011. More pharmaceutical companies are importing medicine to sell despite the price reduction.

Health Prevention (02:51)

Houses are being built with lights, water, and electricity— the old regime promised new housing but failed to implement any programs. Francisco Flores embezzled 20 million dollars allocated for fixing the roads in the country. Gerson Martinez describes how the rampant corruption in the construction industry needs to end.

Rehabilitation (03:09)

Violent street crime makes citizens worry they will be burglarized when they leave home. Prisoners explain that most women resort to crime when they cannot feed or house their children. Izalco Prison created a program where the inmates learn agriculture while incarcerated.

Poor Country (03:19)

Things are improving in El Salvador, but further programs need to be implemented. The Millennium Fund gave the country a 460 million dollar aid package which created infrastructure, and increased electricity and health care programs. The FMLN refuses to privatize water and electric companies.

Presidential Elections (02:27)

The ARENA party contests the election results, believing their candidate should have won by a 30,000 vote margin. Manuel Melgar explains that he respects all citizens' freedom of expression, but the ARENA party wants to return to a privileged regime.

Salvadoreans Celebrate in the U.S. (02:14)

In the second election the FMLN won by 5,000 votes. ARENA called on the military to stage a coup de tête. David Munguia Payes, Minister of National Defense, issues a statement dictating the military will respect the vote.

Fear of U.S. Reaction (02:36)

Hector Perla describes how U.S. fear tactics helped sway voters to support the ARENA candidate in the previous election. Mike Honda explains America would not like if another country threatened them. Maria SIlvia Guillen of FESPAD believes in democratic elections.

Creating Harmony in El Salvador (02:10)

FMLN incorporates politicians from varied political parties and economic backgrounds into the government. The Minister of Tourism is a Christian Democrat and the Minister of Treasury was formally affiliated with ARENA. Sanchez Ceren explains he did not want to model his government of another country, but create something uniquely Salvadorian.

Credits: Learning From El Salvador (00:58)

Credits: Learning From El Salvador

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Learning From El Salvador

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Many people in the United States associate the small Central American nation of El Salvador as a country to be avoided because of the danger posed by violent gangs. Others, with longer memories, recall American involvement in the brutal civil war during the 1980s and the legacy of two million Salvadorians living in the United States. More recently, some politicians in the U.S. congress have warned that El Salvador was becoming a nation linked to other "radical" governments in Central and South America - a threat somehow to American prosperity and security. Yet, during its brief time in office, the new government has initiated a series of reforms to provide free health care to the general population, limit the cost of pharmaceutical drugs, help small farmers and small business owners, and enable students from all sectors of the population to attend school. Do its efforts represent a threat or do they provide examples of policies other nations might learn from?

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL118584

ISBN: 978-1-63521-509-0

Copyright date: ©2014

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