Whether or not he knew it, just before being assassinated while delivering mass in the Chapel of the Hospital de la Divina Providencia in El Salvador, Archbishop Oscar Romero uttered the words that would act as a rallying cry for his supporters: “If I am killed, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people. I say so without boasting, with the greatest humility. … A bishop will die, but God’s church, which is the people, will never perish” (Sandoval 2018).
As Latino people comprise an increasing proportion of the United States population, it is more and more pressing that non-Latino people understand who these people are, where they come from, and what role they play in our modern society. Latinos make up the largest minority group in the U.S. at around 58 million people, or 18% of the country’s population.
January of this year, President Trump enacted a new policy that ended the Temporary Protected Status for 200,000 Salvadorans and 88,000 Hondurans that had been living in the United States for almost twenty years. Both countries originally received TPS following natural disasters at the start of the twenty-first century. Honduras was hit by a devastating hurricane in 1999 and El Salvador suffered from several major earthquakes in 2001.
In 1997, El Salvador’s Congress made a motion to criminalise abortion, with legislators finalizing their decision without opening the case for public debate or consulting any medical professionals. The campaign was headed by a number of anti-choice groups backed by the Catholic church, and the opposition, which took the form of a few women’s rights activists, was literally silenced when their microphones were disconnected during the trial (Lakhani 2017).
Out of the 25 countries in the world with the highest rates of violence against women in the world, 14 of them are in Latin America and the Caribbean (UN Women). Of the top 10 countries considered to be the most dangerous for females, 7 are in Latin America (UN Women). These disturbing statistics have led people to question what exactly it is about Latin America that makes it so prone to this form of violence—and what, if anything, can be done to change this pattern.
Last Tuesday January 9th, 2018, the Trump administration delivered another blow to recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), this time to over 200,000 Salvadorians living and working in the U.S.
Six countries in the world have bans on abortion under all circumstances, four of those are in Latin America. Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic have the strictest abortion laws in the world even prohibiting abortion to save a woman’s life. El Salvador has prosecuted 150 women for abortion with 49 women being convicted and 26 charged with homicide. Legally, doctors must report any woman that they suspect has had an abortion and women could face anywhere from two to eight years in prison.
The combination of high levels of political violence with a relative low number of inter-state armed conflicts has been a secular trend of Latin American history. The 2017 Armed Conflict Survey of the London-based International Institute for International Studies (IIIS) confirms the continuity of that historical pattern –which also happens to confirm a global tendency.