As we continue in the month of May all of us here at the Tamarindo wish to extend our gratitude and love to all mothers across the globe. Without your model of love and sacrifice our world would be lost. I can’t help but consider the Stabat Mater, Mary, the model for all mothers, standing before the cross, experiencing the pain and suffering of her own son Jesus, tortured, imprisoned and crucified. Like Mary, thousands of Salvadoran mothers, our own Stabat Maters, also share in that same pain as their children are imprisoned, disappeared, humiliated, dead or living in foreign lands.
El Salvador continues to "spiral" downward into autocracy. We are now entering our second month of a "special period" where most civil liberties have been suspended and a climate of fear continues to grow. In 50+ days of this “régimen de excepción" there have been over 28,000 arrests. All 28,000 captured and accused, have been labeled ‘terrorists’ by the president. In this same period countless youth are also fleeing the country in fear of being arrested.
At first anyone bearing tattoos was taken away and now it can be any kid walking to the store or getting on a bus. Yesterday in our town a young dad was walking his son home from school where he was stopped, without cause, by Salvadoran soldiers. The army ordered him to strip down to his under shorts as they were checking for tattoos. When they couldn't find any on his body, they shaved his head. Fortunately, he was set free, only after experiencing public humiliation before his school age son. Other local youth have been beaten or verbally abused by both police and Salvadoran soldiers on patrol.
These days mothers come into my office begging for help in finding their kids who have been picked up by the military as there is no way to get any information about any of them. Once you are taken up and tossed on a military truck there is no right to legal representation, no hearing, no trial, only condemnation and a straight ticket to an already overcrowded prison, where the accused are being fed two meals a day.
Speech has also been criminalized and a letter like this one would be grounds for my own arrest or deportation. Many journalists who have questioned the government have chosen to leave the country. President Bukele's "enemies list" now includes any and all human rights groups, journalists, NGO's and the 'international community'. Most recently Amnesty International in a “call to action”, reported the concern over the “erosion of human rights” in El Salvador.
President Bukele has also distanced himself from the Biden Administration, the US embassy here in El Salvador and his own cabinet members. It is known that he has created a subcabinet composed of his brothers and a team of Venezuelan advisors. After Bukele’s embrace of cryptocurrency and dismissal of IMF recommendations concerning Bitcoin, which has plummeted over 50% from it's all time high, investors now doubt whether the country can meet its next debt payment. On the brink of default, Bukele now may look to China and a proposed trip to Russia in June for a possible bailout. Worse, he could take funds from the national pension account. The tide is changing in El Salvador.
Here in the Tamarindo we continue our 30 year old mission in service to our community running programs promoting faith, community building, education, opportunity, love and hope. We believe in the example of our many mothers, loving unconditionally, in any and all circumstances. We are standing with our families.
We ask you to please support the Tamarindo Foundation through your prayers and by considering a generous gift today. We also invite you to become a monthly donor by joining our Tamarindo Partners program, by working together to create a sustainable community of giving. How critical our presence and programming are, especially in these turbulent times. Please know that we can’t do this work without your support.
May God bless the mothers of El Salvador and bring peace to this country. Thank you for your love and for always being there for us.
We hope all mothers had a blessed Mother’s Day!
With love and Gratitude,
John and the Tamarindo Family