The delegation to El Salvador from Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. caught a welcome break Wednesday, as we had only one dignitary to meet. We shopped at a collection of small craft shops for part of the morning, then drove to Resurrection Lutheran Church, where the “La cruz subversiva” cross I mentioned yesterday is housed.
Resurrection is the flagship of Lutheran churches in El Salvador, but you wouldn’t know it. Hardly visible behind a wall and hard by a restaurant, the church is small, unpretentious, and aging. The “subversive cross” is encased in wood and glass against the wall to the left of the altar. Like the church, however, it is impressive in its simplicity: this is the church of people who believe in the tenets of a gospel for the poor, and don’t spend large sums of money on a fancy church.
After a short break in the afternoon, we traveled to the building that houses El Salvador’s Supreme Court in order to visit Magistrate Mina Perla, one of 14 justices on the Supreme Court. Justice Perla apologized for having us meet in a small courtroom, saying it was the only place available for us. She sat up front, as if on the bench, with Ampara Palacios Lopez beside her to translate (in the photo, Justice Perla is on the right).
Justice Perla spoke for some time about difficult human rights issues that remain in El Salvador. Even though the FMLN party is now in power, strong elements of the former conservative government (including several Supreme Court justices) remain, and resist change. Despite the change in leadership, money can still buy influence, Perla said, and corruption within the goverment remains a problem. Perla, like the Secretary of State and the Vice President we met yesterday, spoke of problems caused by organized crime and “narco-traffic.”
The evening ended with a nice taco dinner at the home of one of Amparo’s best friends in El Salvador, and we enjoyed a time of nice fellowship in a beautiful setting. After traveling back to the hotel, we went to bed hoping for quick and deep rest — for our Thursday begins with a 4:30 a.m. departure to visit the eastern edge of the country.
Which is plenty reason for this blog to end, as well.