Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Update on The “Mercedes Arias” Solidarity and Social Transformation School for the formation of community leaders

This year 2014 the CIS’s Network of Communities are making a very important effort on human development.  We have started The “Mercedes Arias” Solidarity and Social Transformation School for the formation of community leadersThe goal of this effort is to develop a group of leaders made up of 30 people (20 woman and 10 men) from the Community Network, Water Committees, and the Scholarship Program.  The school is designed so that the workshops are reproduced by the leaders in their local organizations.  It will be a multiplying team. 

The school is set up for seven months from January to July.  The topics are as follows: power, leadership, community organization, environmental contamination, access for woman to comprehensive health care, conflict transformation and solidarity.
All of these topics are prepared with a methodology that allows us to take a step back and examine how we are doing currently.  It is done in a way that each participant reflects on the topic from his/her reality.  We are going to look deeper into our groups in the communities.  Our orientation is that, as leaders, we should be actors and not spectators.  Change should first come from us.

The Methodology

We are working with a facilitator’s guide that is based in popular education.  Some of the material comes from what we worked on last year with an intern and other material is from Equipo Maíz.  We include techniques like role play, energizers, music, etc. We have participation guidelines for the workshops.  The truth it is a space where there is a lot of participation.
The people in charge of the school are some of the grassroots organizers. The participants are given a snack, lunch, and bus fair.  The workshops take place from 9:00am-3:00pm.  At each workshop the participants are give a Facilitator’s Guide so that each of them can put on the workshop in their respective communities.
After the first workshop on power, the leaders reproduced the workshop in five different municipalities.  Some of the comment that emerged was many people saw power as just being something from above that politicians have.  One woman said, “I had never heard people talk about power from below.  The ability that each an every one of us have…now I feel more important.”   On the topic of leadership one youth said “I see myself as a paternalistic leader.  I thought I was doing things the right way, but now I realized I have to change my attitude about my leadership.”  Another man said, “in leadership, honesty is very important.”
As a team we are satisfied with the work.  We think that after the workshops we will see important changes because we see that the participants have the will to change.

La escuela de solidaridad y transformación social para la formación de líderes y lideresas comunitaria/os “Mercedes Arias”

Este año 2014 como red de comunidades del CIS estamos  realizando un esfuerzo muy importante sobre el desarrollo humano; Hemos iniciado la escuela de solidaridad y transformación social para la formación de líderes y lideresas comunitaria/os “Mercedes Arias” este esfuerzo tiene como propósito  la formación de un grupo de 30 personas (20 mujeres y 10 hombres) de la red de comunidades, comités de agua y programa de becas,  para que ellas y ellos  reproduzcan los talleres en sus organizaciones locales, en concreto será un equipo multiplicador

La escuela está programada para 7 meses de Enero a Julio los temas son:
El poder, liderazgo, organización comunitaria, contaminación ambiental, acceso a la salud integral de las mujeres, transformación de conflictos y la solidaridad.

En todos los temas  preparamos  una metodología que nos permita hacer un alto para revisar como estamos en la actualidad, pero además la reflexión la realizamos desde nosotras y nosotros y nos vamos a revisar al interior de nuestros grupos en la comunidades y orientamos que las y los lideres debemos ser actores y no espectadores y que el cambio debe ser primero desde nosotras/os

La metodología

Estamos trabajando con una guía metodológica de educación popular que trabajamos el año pasado con ayuda de un pasante y con algún material que tenemos del equipo maíz, incluimos  mucho las técnicas, los dramas, la exposición las dinámicas, música etc.  Tenemos reglas de convivencia, en realidad es un espacio muy bueno donde hay mucha participación
Las personas encargadas de del desarrollo de la escuela  son algunos de las promotores.   A las y los participantes se les proporciona un refrigerio, almuerzo y viáticos, pues el horario es de 9:00am – 3:00pm  además se les entrega una guía metodológica para la reproducción
Cabe destacar que en 5 municipios ya se reprodujo el tema del poder y algunos comentarios de las personas fueron que ellas relacionaban el poder solo desde arriba o sea desde los funcionarios o políticos etc. “Nunca habían escuchado hablar del poder desde abajo o sea la capacidad que cada una y cada uno poseemos”  “ahora me siento más importante” dijo una mujer y sobre el tema de liderazgo cuando trabajamos  los tipos de liderazgo un joven dijo “yo me ubico en el liderazgo paternalista porque pensaba que yo hacía bien ahora debo cambiar mi actitud respecto a mi liderazgo” otro  señor dijo  “en el liderazgo es muy importante la honestidad”.
Como equipo estamos satisfecha/os  de este trabajo y consideramos que después de los talleres se verán cambios importantes porque  vemos voluntad en las personas que están participando

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Election Observations in San Luis La Herradura

This was my fourth election observer mission since 2009 and for the most part everything ran smoothly, with only a few minor inconsistencies mentioned below.  Even in the relatively short period that I have been observing the elections in El Salvador I have seen significant improvements in the process.  Residential voting, absentee voting, police being allowed to vote, and the electronic transmission of the Acta are all some of those improvements.  Although there are still some problems, I am confidant that they will be resolved and that the process will continue to improve.  The absentee voting had many problems this election, which is understandable since this was the first time it was used.  With these improvements and with the belief that things will continue to improve, I have high hopes for the future elections in El Salvador.   Now that the process has been in place, and the people see how it should work, it is hard to believe that they would ever go back to the way things were with so many checks and balances.

As mentioned, for the most part the elections I observed went very well, but there were a few glitches that I think are worth mentioning.
 *******The CIS is looking for International Observers for the run off election: March 3rd-11th.******
**************Contact us if you are interested:***********

1.  Tinta (ink) – At the table I observed (8157) the President rarely, if ever, checked voters hands for tinta.

2.  Security, at some of the tables, was very poor and could have been easily fixed.  I never saw anyone taking advantage of this, but it could have been a problem.  Photos below illustrate this problem.
Voter could be easily observed

Voter being observed by non family member

An example of good security
Poor security

I could see how this voter voted

Too low and wide opened 
Crowds around voting booths and woman looks into voting booth

Poor security

3.  All the carbon copies of the Acta could not be clearly read.

4.  Ballot boxes placed in wrong locations and close together caused problems.  On three separate occasions I observed voters coming close to depositing their ballot in the wrong box.  Photos below illustrate this problem.

Ballot boxes too close together.  Caused confusion when crowded.

5.  Vigilantes performed tasks beyond their purview.  Photo below illustrate this problem.

Vigilante counts ballots at opening
6.  Laminated DUIs caused considerable discussions at many tables.  How different JRVs resolved this issue was not consistent.  This should be cleared up by TSE. Photos below illustrate this problem.

Discussion over laminated DUI

7.  Observers had the right to photograph completed Acta and then accompany it to the transmission room.  Photos below.

The secretary filling out the final count form-acta. 

Transmission room where the final results are scanned, posted online, and a copy given to each party.

8.  Roles at table not completely clear.  TSE should continue to improve training.

For the first time the Police was able to vote in the center they were stationed at today.

Assisting voters find their JRVs using a smartphone