Communicating for Peace
Although it’s not a crisis that takes center stage in the headlines, the Northern Triangle of Central America is one of the most violent regions in the world. Extortion, attempted murder, the murder of a family member, and other acts of violence force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes every year. Relative to population, some experts estimate that the rate of displacement in El Salvador is second only to Syria (GRID, 2017).
In the Northern Triangle, reporting a crime or requesting assistance is in itself a dangerous act. Many people fear further angering their aggressors, or being re-victimized by corrupt officials. Of the victims of violence Cristosal assisted in the first 10 months of 2017, 6% reported experiencing violence from El Salvador’s National Civilian Police, the very force meant to protect them. These people face an impossible situation: traumatized, managing a fear that’s all too legitimate, they have nowhere to turn.
Cristosal works to build and strengthen ways for victims of violence to access safety and dignity. We provide humanitarian and legal assistance to families in emergency; build human rights environments to promote peace in communities; and equip human rights leaders with knowledge and tools for action. From January to September 2017, Cristosal provided direct assistance to nearly 400 people, represented 239 people in seeking international asylum, and reintegrated 20 families into safe communities. We accompanied 3 families displaced by violence in successfully submitting appeals for their constitutional rights to El Salvador’s Supreme Court. Currently, Cristosal Human Rights Director and attorney David Morales is supporting Tutela Legal in prosecuting perpetrators of the 1981 El Mozote massacre, possibly the largest massacre in our hemisphere in modern times.
Cristosal depends on supporters from North American to power this crucial work. However, the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” is true—if we can’t communicate well, we can’t secure the funds needed to carry out this life-saving work. Investing in the development of a competent and creative communication team is essential to furthering our ability to help people that nobody else is willing or able to help. Updating and expanding our communication capacity is more important now than ever, as we expand into Guatemala and Honduras.