Accompanying Salvadorans’ struggle for social justice since 1985

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SalvAide is once again calling on Canadians to accompany the Salvadoran electoral process. Be a part of our El Salvador Election Observers Program 2015 from 23 February to 3 March to witness important Legislative Assembly, Municipal Government, and Central American Parliament elections.

Congressional and municipal elections tend to receive less attention, but their results (and assuring a free, fair, and transparent process) are key to the everyday lives of Salvadorans. It is the Legislative Assembly that passes that majority of laws governing everything from health and education to foreign affairs and trade policies, and Municipal Governments are the most immediate form of government to which most Salvadorans have access.

Furthermore, last year's Presidential election saw efforts by the defeated political party, ARENA, to delegitimize its opponent's victory and even saw a call to violence from some of its leadership. The presence of international observers and the consensus conclusion of various missions that the election was conducted fairly and that the FMLN's victory was legitimate were vital to stabilizing a highly polarized situation.

This election will also see the implementation of several reforms, including the election of plural municipal councils, cross-party candidate voting for the Legislative Assembly, and direct voting for the Central American Parliament. With so many key changes to the process, a strong observer presence will help document challenges and successes.

SalvAide’s Election Observers Delegation will bear witness to the electoral process in some of the more than 380 rural communities where SalvAide’s Salvadoran sister social movement organizations, CRIPDES and CORDES, are active. The Delegation’s key objectives are to:

  • Contribute to free and fair elections;
  • Generate a safe environment to stimulate democratic participation
  • Observe and inform about the implementation of election reforms;
  • Deepen participants’ understanding of El Salvador’s social and economic relations;
  • Promote people-to-people solidarity.

Click here for delegation details including how to apply.

For any other information, call us at 613-233-6215 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dates: 23 February - 3 March, 2015

Strategic Partner: SalvAide continues its long-standing partnership with the Centre for Exchange and Solidarity (CIS), an El Salvador based non-profit organization that is a recognized civil society leader in elections observation. Observers recruited through SalvAide comprise our contingent as part of the CIS' broader mission which includes observers from several countries and organizations around the world.

Costs: The in-country cost for participants per delegation is $725 USD (to be paid to CIS once in El Salvador) which includes private transportation, interpretation (Spanish-English), observer training and official credentials, food & water, accommodations (shared rooms with 3 or more), and coordination. Please note that this does not include travel costs to El Salvador.

Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements to El Salvador and mandatory travel health insurance. You are free to arrive in El Salvador before the start of the program and/or to stay beyond the program end date; however, you are responsible for your own living costs and arrangements outside the Delegation dates.

Schedule: Here is a sample Delegation schedule from 23 February - 3 March 2015 (final schedule TBD):


Mon 2/23

Tues 2/24

Wed 2/25

Thurs 2/26

Fri 2/27


Arrival – airport pickup as necessary

History of El Salvador & General analysis

Visit CRIPDES-CORDES communities

Observer training

Candidates forum


Welcome & orientation at guesthouse

Visits to historically significant sites in San Salvador

Meetings with parties, JEM, and local organizations

Special reception

Meeting with Canadian Embassy


Sat 2/28

Sun 3/1

Mon 3/2

Tues 3/3



Municipal orientation

Observe elections from 5AM

Municipal group meeting, Data gathering

Press conference



Travel to municipality - observation next day (overnight stay)

Observe Elections to 7PM

Analysis of results

Farewell Dinner (optional)

End of mission – airport drop-off as necessary


How to Join: Please download the application by clicking here (PDF) and send it to SalvAide no later than 9 February 2015.

Here is our partner Centre for Exchange and Solidarity's (CIS) initial observers report.  SalvAide's delegation was a part of the 9th CIS Observers Mission.  For the full final report in Spanish, please click here (PDF).


San Salvador, March 13th, 2012


Our ninth mission consisted of 100 observers coming from 12 countries: the USA, Canada, Norway, Venezuela, Germany, United Kingdom, Basque Country, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and El Salvador. We observed the elections in 16 municipalities in 5 departments of the country.

We would like to thank the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) for facilitating information and our credentials as a mission. As well we would like to thank the political parties, the Electoral Monitoring Board, the Commission on Electoral and Constitutional Reforms of the Legislative Assembly, the Departmental Electoral Board, the Municipal Electoral Board, the National Registry of Persons, the Electoral Prosecutor, the Human Rights Ombudsmand, the National Civil Police, social organizations, Universidad Centro Americana, various embassies and other candidates who took the time to share their analysis and information explaining the context and the process of the elections.

Our primary objectives:

  • To carry out an objective observation of the electoral process in order to contribute to strengthening democracy in El Salvador through the realization of free, transparent, equal, and fair elections.
  • Create a secure  environment for the voters in order to stimulate democratic participation.
  • To point out the weaknesses, faults, inconsistencies or threats observed during the process in order to correct or prevent them in the future.
  • To contribute conclusions and recommendations of electoral reforms that could be implemented according to the experience of other democratic countries.

We observe the following steps of the process with special interest:

  • The opening and start of the voting process in the voting centers.
  • The installation of the voting tables and its members
  • The flow of the process of the identification of the voters, the handing out of ballots, the vote itself, the use of the voting booth, the placement of the ballot boxes and voting booths, inking the finger of the voters, etc.
  • Guaranties of the vote secrecy
  • Accessibility for handicapped voters
  • Possible acts of violence or intimidation like vote buying or vote inducement
  • The counting of the votes and filling out the vote count documents
  • The transmission of the results of the vote

As well we make observations of the manner in which the people will understand the voting process, the impact of the application of the residential vote in 9 departments of the country, the possibility of voting for individual candidates and the inclusion of independent candidates. Public security on the voting day will also receive our attention.

Our initial observations were the following:

  • Many voting tables opened late because of logistical problems: the members didn’t arrive on time, problems with Unique Identification Documents (DUI) or credentials, incomplete electoral packages, etc.
  • Once the tables were installed the process was very fluid
  • It is important to say that the voters were quite aware of how to vote and for that reason there were almost no null votes.
  • The participation was high in the voting centers with residential voting and it seemed like the system designed to verify the voting centre implemented by the TSE worked well.
  • The preferential vote is a positive thing that gives more power to the citizens to choose their candidates instead of leaving it up to the candidates.
  • The National Civilian Police played an important part in maintaining security and kept the process under control. But in some areas the Armed Forces had an intimidating and unnecessary presence near the voting centers.
  • The presence of the Electoral Attorney was important.
  • The counting was relatively quick. However many voting tables did not follow the procedures of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal during the counting of the preferential vote; they improvised methods for the count and some could lack trustworthiness.
  • The transmission of the results was a step forward in the use of technology.

Some negative points were:

  • Violence in Guacotecti towards mayoral candidates of the FMLN, ARENA and PES who received death threats before the elections.
  • Groups representing parties, or groups arriving with a candidate, campaigning, in some cases in doing it in an intimidating manner.
  • Some party monitors usurping the functions of the members of the voting tables
  • Some party monitors oriented the voters including marking the ballots for the voters.
  • The vote secrecy was not guaranteed: the voting booths were very close to the tables and were close to each other, party monitors looking over the shoulder of the voters. The logistics of the placement of the voting booths has to be improved.
  • The voting mark bled through to the other side of the ballot: or the ink of the marker or the quality of the paper or both was a problem.
  • Various persons tried to vote with photocopies of their DUIs and a lot of people arrived with laminated DUIs – some were allowed to vote and some not.

Our first recommendations include:

  • It is necessary to approve a law regulating the political parties that will also cover the electoral process of candidates within the parties, quotas for the participation of women and the financing of the parties.
  • To implement an electronic vote count in the of the preferential vote, or a an electronic vote.
  • Approve a reform making municipal councils have pluralist representation.
  • Implement residential voting in all of the country and continue to bring the ballot boxes closer to the people in all municipalities.
  • Strengthen the training of the members of the voting tables.

SalvAide is continuing to build its partnership with Ottawa Catholic School Board schools to facilitate exposure trips to El Salvador. Currently, students from Holy Trinity, St. Francis Xavier, and most recently, St. Joseph High Schools have the opportunity to share with Salvadoran counterparts in an immersion experience.

In addition, each school has a long-term solidarity partnership with organized rural communities in El Salvador. Holy Trinity is "twinned" with San José Las Flores in Chalatenango province. Las Flores was one of the first communities repopulated by refugees who had been driven out by the Salvadoran Armed Forces during El Salvador's civil war from 1980-1992. Despite great odds, the community is an example of what solidarity and collective organization can achieve. To date, Holy Trinity students and teachers have contributed over $35,000 for education-based community projects in San José Las Flores, including a brand new computer lab and repairs to the town's school. Thanks to Holy Trinity's contributions in 2012, San José Las Flores' school will begin to set up a science lab and two graduating students will receive scholarships to help them continue their education.

St. Francis Xavier partnered with the Cabañas province community of Cinquera in 2011. Like Las Flores, Cinquera was also repopulated during the war. The community boasts a beautiful forest and protected area that attracts eco-tourists interested in the political-cultural history of the former conflict zone. St. Francis Xavier began its new partnership by supporting a high school and post-secondary scholarships program in Cinquera with an initial $7,000, supported the successful scholarship program with a second generous $7,250 contribution in 2012, and in 2013, contributed an outstanding $10,000 to the program! The program makes it easier for keen high school graduates to continue their education in university. And the beneficiaries give back to their community! Scholarship recipients also work as community organizers helping to build solidarity and social justice in Cinquera. SalvAide would also like to recognize the tireless commitment of Sister Shelley Lawrence, the St. Francis Xavier - Cinquera program founder, who retires in 2013 as St. Francis Xavier's Chaplain. We sincerely thank Sister Shelley for her solidarity and wish her nothing but the best in her much deserved retirement!

The latest Ottawa Catholic High School to join our program is St. Joseph. In February 2013, 11 students and teachers from the school will travel to El Salvador for the first time to learn about global social justice issues first hand in the rich Salvadoran cultural, historical, and political context. Delegates will also be exposed to the country's tradition in Catholic social teachings as expressed through the Popular Catholic Church legacy left by El Salvador's patron saint, Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated while giving mass by a government death squad in 1980. The St. Joseph delegation also is partnered with a small community in Chalatenango province, the canton of Hacienda Vieja, which is part of the municipality of San José Las Flores. Hacienda Vieja has a small K to grade 5 single classroom school whose students and lone teacher are very excited to meet their new Canadian friends!

If you are a teacher or student interested in developing a solidarity partnership with young Salvadorans, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This Ottawa-Gatineau based SalvAide-facilitated delegation spends two weeks in El Salvador and in particular the historic village of San José Las Flores where it financially supports community education projects through local fundraising efforts.

Delegation participants are mostly post-secondary students who share a common goal. Having visited San José Las Flores in past years (often as part of SalvAide's delegations in partnership with Ottawa Catholic High Schools), they have a strong bond with the community and wish to do more to support education there.  Participants fundraise throughout the year to help give the children and youth in Las Flores more opportunities to express themselves through the arts.  In the summer of 2012, the delegation contributed towards the construction and maintenance of a community performance stage near the town square.  Click here for more information on the Pegasus Education Delegation 2nd Annual Gala Dinner fundraiser on Thursday, June 6th, 2013.

The delegates spend close to two weeks in El Salvador with the bulk of their stay in San José Las Flores itself.  While there they become a part of the community and contribute as they can and in solidarity through public works.

For more information about this delegation, please click here to read its brochure (PDF), or email us by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To make a donation towards this delegation's work in El Salvador, please click here to select the most convenient donation method for you.  Please be sure to note that your donation is for "Pegasus-El Salvador."  Thanks for your solidarity!

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