Larissa Hotra

Larissa Hotra (Survivor Corps in El Salvador): Larissa graduated from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources in 2004. She worked at the nonprofit SafeHouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan as a legal advocate and as an environmental science educator to high school students. She then served as the Midwest campaign coordinator for Global Impact, a nonprofit that raises money for international humanitarian organizations. By night, she worked as the Political Affairs Editor for a Ukrainian Internet Newsletter, e-POSHTA. Throughout her time in Chicago she dabbled in everything that the city had to offer: producing a story for Chicago Public Radio on the Ukrainian diaspora; organizing and working with the Ukrainian diaspora through PLAST – a Ukrainian youth scouting; attending free cultural and musical events; practicing her Spanish language skills in Latino immigrant neighborhoods; and trying to play soccer on every piece of green space in the city. At the time of her fellowship, Larissa was in the first year of a Master’s program at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.



Is El Salvador Really Mine Free? June 30, 2008: “Explosion hurts four children in Chalatenango…”

30 Jun

I woke up this morning feeling refreshed. An afternoon of exploring volcanoes around San Salvador and an evening of rain pounding on the tin roof revived my spirits for the new work-week.

As I sat down this morning to read La Prensa, happily slurping my turkish coffee and listening to our resident parrot screech “Buenos dias! Buenos dias!”, I came upon an article on the front page of the ‘Nation’ section: “Explosion hurts four children in Chalatenango”; Joseline S. lost her foot when she touched a device that she found. June 30, 2008: http://archive.laprensa.com.sv/20080630/nacion/. And suddenly, my appetite was gone and my spirits unnerved.

Just last week the government claimed that only 4.1% of the population was living with a disability. Since 1994, the government has claimed that El Salvador is ‘mine-free.” So far, these ‘claims’ are not adding up.

The sidebar in the paper reads as follows: Tragedy. Four young people were made disabled from the explosion of a device that is suspected to be a mine inherited from the armed conflict in the past. The families of the victims were assured that agents of the PNC in Chalatenango had gone to review the zone, but in the afternoon the police officers admitted that they didn’t know of the tragedy, due to a change of shifts.

It’s not that I’m shocked. Well, actually, I am. Apparently, this is a routine occurrence in the country. It shows up in the papers, right in between the advertisements for cell phone companies plastered over every page of the newspaper (and every storefront that even thought of selling a tigo or a claro card)and the machinations of the political parties. When I cut out the article and showed it to my co-workers, they were saddened, but unsurprised. Apparently in parts of Chalatenango in the North and Morazan in the East, among other departments, I’m sure, these ‘accidents’ occur frequently. As the article mentions, the OAE (La Organizacion de los Estados Americanos) named El Salvador mine free in 1994, only two years after ending the twelve year civil war.

In summation, then, it is understood that only two years after the war, El Salvador is ‘mine-free’ and sixteen years later, there are only (approximately) 235,000 of approximately 6,000,000 people left disabled from the war, motor accidents, and diabetes, among other disabling circumstances and accidents. I repeat: the statistics and claims are not adding up.

Posted By Larissa Hotra

Posted Jun 30th, 2008

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