• UES Conducts Ground Vibration Study in San Salvador Metropolitan Area for Sustainable Building Practices.

    UES Conducts Ground Vibration Study in San Salvador Metropolitan Area for Sustainable Building Practices.

    The University of El Salvador (UES) is currently engaged in groundbreaking research focused on understanding the ground vibrations in the San Salvador Metropolitan Area (AMSS) to provide valuable insights for construction practices. Spearheaded by Luis Castillo, a professor at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, this study aims to assess the seismic response in the region, crucial for determining the appropriate sizes for constructing buildings and minimizing risks in the city.

    The investigation utilizes one-dimensional and two-dimensional numerical modeling techniques to comprehensively analyze the local seismic response in the AMSS. Castillo, who is pursuing a doctorate in Geological Engineering, envisions that this research will contribute significantly to the scientific knowledge of El Salvador, marking a milestone as the country’s first doctor in this specialized field.

    The study seeks to establish a comprehensive mapping of urban environments, analyzing how different zones exhibit ground vibrations. This information will guide recommendations for the types of constructions permissible in specific areas and the optimal number of floors.

    Explaining the relevance of ground vibration periods, Castillo highlighted the phenomenon of resonance, drawing parallels to sound feedback. If a building’s natural frequency aligns with the ground vibration period, resonance can occur, leading to structural failures during seismic events. By understanding these vibration periods, Castillo can advise experts on constructing safe and resilient buildings.

    What sets this study apart is its implementation of a two-dimensional methodology, unlike most studies that traditionally use one-dimensional approaches. This innovation allows for a more in-depth understanding of the local seismic response along a given transect.

    The study area spans five kilometers in the AMSS, encompassing locations such as La Chacra neighborhood, adjacent to the Army Boulevard; San Vicente de Paul Children’s Home, the National Geographic and Cadastre Institute, among others. This selection was based on the region’s seismic history and the demand for residential and commercial constructions.

    Luis Castillo’s doctoral pursuit is supported by the UES faculty strengthening program and the CASTES project, funded by the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development (AICS), with technical guidance from two European universities.

    In the realm of sustainable construction, Juan Francisco Sifontes, President of the Green Building Council El Salvador, emphasized the importance of such studies. Speaking at the Innovation and Sustainability Trends for Construction forum organized by Holcim El Salvador, Sifontes stressed the necessity of seismic regulations, citing recent seismic events that resulted in the collapse of buildings constructed over 25 years ago.

    Sifontes emphasized the critical role of seismic regulations, certification of steel structures’ welds, quality of steel coatings, and fire prevention networks in all constructions. He also revealed that, by 2024, 100 buildings in El Salvador are expected to be certified for sustainability, marking a positive stride towards resilient and environmentally conscious construction practices.

  • El Salvador Nurtures Talent with 254 Global Scholarships.

    El Salvador Nurtures Talent with 254 Global Scholarships.

    This year, 254 Salvadorans have been granted scholarships for undergraduate, postgraduate, master’s, and doctoral studies in various countries, thanks to the collaboration of partner nations through the Salvadoran Agency for International Cooperation (ESCO).

    Supported countries include Japan, South Korea, Spain, China, Turkey, Romania, and Chile, among others.

    ESCO’s Director, Karla de Palma, aims to exceed 300 scholarship recipients next year and expand partnerships. The goal is for scholars to give back to El Salvador, exemplified by the 162 Chinese scholarship recipients who plan to share their knowledge upon completing their studies.

    Of the 254 scholarships, 252 are fully funded, covering travel, accommodation, living expenses, and tuition. The remaining two are partial scholarships, requiring recipients to contribute to some costs. ESCO also offers short courses and diploma programs.

    The ESCO website provides information on current opportunities, with ongoing calls for applications in Belgium, Chile, Spain, the United States, India, and Mexico. Eligible candidates include high school graduates, professionals, public and private sector employees, civil society members, and academics.

    Since its establishment in June 2020, ESCO has awarded a total of 1,113 scholarships, comprising 779 full scholarships and 334 partial scholarships. This initiative reflects El Salvador’s commitment to nurturing a skilled workforce for national development.

  • El Salvador Prepares for a Record-Breaking Holiday Season in Tourism.

    El Salvador Prepares for a Record-Breaking Holiday Season in Tourism.

    In anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, the Ministry of Tourism in El Salvador has unveiled ambitious plans to welcome a projected 313,000 international visitors, with over 50% arriving by air.

    On Monday morning, government officials revealed the details of the 2023 Year-End Plan, outlining migration forecasts and key measures to be implemented throughout December. Federico Anliker, President of the Autonomous Executive Port Commission (CEPA), emphasized that the plan, running from today until January 15, 2024, involves over 1,600 individuals from various collaborating institutions operating seamlessly at the airport.

    Anliker highlighted the collaboration with 60 personnel from the National Public Security Academy (ANSP) and traffic management experts from the Ministry of Transportation (VMT). He explained, “We will increase security personnel at inspection points and deploy additional X-ray equipment to enhance the efficiency of outbound passenger flow.” The official also mentioned a surge in daily inspections to ensure the smooth operation of facilities in the passenger terminal, aeronautical zone, and land zone.

    Furthermore, Anliker assured the public of a well-equipped Salvage and Firefighting team comprising 68 aeronautical firefighters, 4 firefighting trucks, 3 ambulances, and medical personnel, prepared for any emergency.

    Minister of Tourism Morena Valdez shared optimism about the holiday season, anticipating more than 313,000 international visitors, with over 50% choosing air travel. She added, “National parks also expect a high influx, surpassing one million visitors.” Valdez revealed that, according to the World Tourism Organization, El Salvador has experienced remarkable growth in the sector, recording a 32% increase as of October this year, ranking fourth globally behind Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Albania and securing the top spot in Latin America.

    Ricardo Cucalón, Director General of Migration and Foreigners, provided recent statistics, stating that during the Miss Universe competition from November 1 to 19, El Salvador witnessed a substantial 18% increase in entries compared to 2022, totaling 354,785. He noted another spike during the San Miguel Carnival from November 23 to 26, with a 20% rise in visitors, reaching 81,993.

    Viceminister of Diaspora and Human Mobility Cindy Portal expressed her pride in welcoming visitors to a transforming country, citing the modern infrastructure, particularly the international airport, as the first impression for incoming guests.

    As El Salvador gears up for a record-breaking holiday season, authorities are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a safe, smooth, and enjoyable experience for all visitors.

  • El Salvador’s Digital Leap Touches Every Aspect of Society.

    El Salvador’s Digital Leap Touches Every Aspect of Society.

    El Salvador is undergoing a profound transformation with a commitment of approximately $600 million to bridge the digital gap across the country. This investment is proving to be a game-changer, benefiting students, educators, and healthcare system users alike.

    One of the most significant initiatives has been the distribution of 1.2 million electronic tablets and laptops to 100% of students in the public sector. These devices come equipped with connectivity and access to Google Classroom tools, empowering students with the resources they need for a more interactive and engaging learning experience.

    Furthermore, recognizing the pivotal role of educators in this digital shift, the government has trained 40,000 teachers from the public education system to effectively use the Google platform and conduct virtual classes. This concerted effort is not only enhancing the quality of education but also ensuring that both students and teachers are well-prepared for the demands of the digital age.

    In an effort to expand digital access, the Salvadoran government has also introduced free internet in public squares and parks. The Secretariat of Innovation has installed at least 20 stations, powered by Starlink, in various public spaces. With download speeds of up to 300 megabytes per second, these stations are revolutionizing internet accessibility, making navigation seamless for users. The ambitious plan aims to provide free internet to 100 municipalities by next year.

    Daniel Méndez, Secretary of Innovation, emphasized that these initiatives signify a departure from analog processes and a resolute march towards a digital era. “We have transformed a country from analog to one on the path to digital. President Nayib Bukele has invested significantly in digital transformation and information technology,” stated Méndez.

    Beyond education, this digital revolution extends its reach into the healthcare sector. The digitalization of all medical records and the creation of a unified health record system have streamlined healthcare services. Patients can now be attended to in any health facility, as their medical records are linked to their Unique Identity Document (DUI).

  • El Salvador’s Education Reforms Bear Fruit in Reading Proficiency.

    El Salvador’s Education Reforms Bear Fruit in Reading Proficiency.

    The Ministry of Education in El Salvador reports a significant surge in literacy levels among students, with more than 530,000 students actively participating in the Fiction Express reading platform. Launched under the framework of the Mi Nueva Escuela reform initiated by President Nayib Bukele’s government, this interactive reading platform aims to enhance reading competency through engagement and creativity.

    Since its inception, students ranging from 4th grade to high school have delved into over seven million chapters on Fiction Express. This achievement underscores a notable increase in reading levels and the cultivation of critical literacy and writing skills. The current national average for reading stands at an impressive four books per student.

    “Thanks to the implementation of the Mi Nueva Escuela reform led by President Nayib Bukele and the national reading strategy championed by the Ministry, we have achieved incredible milestones, placing us on par with nations like Spain and England,” highlighted the Ministry of Education.

    To recognize outstanding achievements, the Ministry of Education has conferred over 760 awards to students, teachers, and educational institutions across all 14 departments of the country. These accolades celebrate excellence in reading, expression, and writing skills demonstrated through the effective utilization of the Fiction Express platform.

    Minister of Education, José Mauricio Pineda, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “Thousands of children and adolescents across the country are developing a love for reading, creative writing, and strengthening their reading comprehension. The accomplishments we have attained fill me with hope; we are experiencing a true educational transformation.”

    This literary revolution in El Salvador signifies a monumental stride towards nurturing a generation of avid readers and proficient writers, marking a positive shift in the educational landscape of the nation. As the government continues to prioritize innovative educational reforms, the impact on literacy rates and intellectual growth promises to be a beacon of inspiration for nations globally.

  • El Salvador Explores Offshore Wind Park to Boost Renewable Energy.

    El Salvador Explores Offshore Wind Park to Boost Renewable Energy.

    The government of El Salvador is actively considering the establishment of an offshore wind park along its coastline, as part of its ongoing commitment to renewable energy sources. Daniel Álvarez, the president of the Executive Hydroelectric Commission of the Lempa River (CEL), highlighted the state’s efforts to shift towards renewable sources for the country’s electricity supply. He proudly emphasized that El Salvador stands out, free from power outages, rationing, or surges in electricity prices experienced by other nations.

    A significant milestone in this journey towards sustainable energy was the injection of 66 megawatts from the newly inaugurated 3 de Febrero Hydroelectric Plant, resulting in a remarkable 14% reduction in electricity tariffs. President Nayib Bukele announced this reduction on October 19, underscoring the government’s dedication to making electricity more affordable for Salvadoran households.

    Daniel Álvarez, in a morning interview, pointed to this achievement as evidence of the government’s proactive stance in ensuring the country’s electricity generation meets current and future demands. “In El Salvador, we do not experience power outages, rationing, or price hikes. This indicates our readiness to withstand short, medium, and long-term growth in demand,” stated Álvarez.

    He also highlighted studies indicating El Salvador’s ability to respond effectively to increases in national consumption. During the El Niño crisis, El Salvador stood out as the sole exporter of electrical energy while neighboring countries were grappling with closures. Álvarez explained that El Salvador only reduced its export to conserve resources and prevent price hikes for its citizens.

    Currently, 80% of El Salvador’s energy matrix is covered by renewables, with 20% relying on bunker fuel. Half of this renewable energy comes from hydroelectric and geothermal sources managed by CEL. Álvarez added to this success story by announcing the imminent inauguration of the first state-owned photovoltaic park in Talnique, La Libertad, along with several other projects aimed at reducing dependency on bunker fuel.

    Looking ahead, Álvarez disclosed plans for a marine wind park, stating, “We are conducting studies to create an offshore wind park because, over land, we have few winds, particularly in the highlands of Metapán. However, we see the coastline as a promising location for a wind park.”

    In collaboration with the Spanish government, El Salvador is exploring the generation of electricity using ocean waves. Álvarez expressed gratitude for Spain’s support and optimism about harnessing the stable waves along the Salvadoran coast as a potent source of renewable energy.

  • Miss Universe Boosts El Salvador’s Economy with $177 Million in Tourism Revenue.

    Miss Universe Boosts El Salvador’s Economy with $177 Million in Tourism Revenue.

    The recent staging of the Miss Universe competition in El Salvador has proven to be a significant economic boon for the country, as it raked in a staggering $177 million in tourism revenue. The Minister of Tourism, Morena Valdez, shared this news, highlighting the positive impact of the international event on the nation’s economy.

    Over the course of the event, El Salvador played host to an impressive 65,000 international visitors, contributing substantially to the nation’s tourism sector. Minister Valdez reported a remarkable 100% occupancy rate in accommodations and restaurants, showcasing the success of the country’s hospitality industry during the Miss Universe weeks.

    “It’s been a great outcome. We experienced full occupancy in accommodations, restaurants, and even our tour guides and tour operators were at full capacity. This edition of Miss Universe stands out as the most-watched beauty pageant in the entire history of the organization. We should all take pride in this accomplishment,” expressed Minister Valdez.

    These promising figures align with the year-end projections of the Ministry of Tourism (Mitur), which anticipates hosting approximately 3.2 million visitors by the close of the year, translating to a substantial $3,600 million in foreign exchange earnings.

    “With these numbers, our sector solidifies its position as one of the most crucial contributors to the national economy,” added Valdez, emphasizing the vital role tourism plays in El Salvador’s economic landscape.

    In addition to the economic windfall, statistics from the Salvadoran Social Security Institute (ISSS) reveal a positive trend in formal employment within the tourism sector. Since 2019, formal employment in the industry has seen a commendable 10% growth, while the number of employers has increased by an impressive 9 to 10%.

    As El Salvador continues to showcase its potential as a top-tier tourism destination, the Miss Universe event has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the country’s economic landscape, setting the stage for further growth and prosperity in the sector.

  • Vice President of El Salvador Meets with Japanese Ambassador.

    Vice President of El Salvador Meets with Japanese Ambassador.

    In a bid to fortify the bonds of friendship and cooperation, Vice President Félix Ulloa of the Republic of El Salvador held a significant meeting with the Japanese Ambassador, Ariyoshi Katsuhide. The discussions centered around enhancing the longstanding amicable relationship between the two nations.

    Vice President Ulloa commenced the meeting by expressing his satisfaction with the robust friendship that exists between Japan and El Salvador. He took the opportunity to extend gratitude for Japan’s continuous support, channeled through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), particularly in various projects such as the formulation of the Regional Master Plan for Mobility and Logistics 2035. This initiative aims to establish a competitive, efficient, secure, and integrated regional logistics and mobility system for the proper transportation and value chains.

    Additionally, the Vice President highlighted El Salvador’s transformative journey in the realms of security and development. He emphasized the significance of the Territorial Control Plan as a fundamental tool in ensuring peace and security for the Salvadoran people. Moreover, he underscored that, in this new context, the population finally enjoys the necessary conditions for comprehensive development.

    In this context, Vice President Ulloa shared with Ambassador Katsuhide the earnest desire of the Central American region to solidify its unity. He emphasized the importance placed on this matter by the involved countries. Ulloa conveyed that this topic would be addressed in the upcoming summit of Heads of State and Government of the Central American Integration System (SICA). The summit aims to discuss a set of reforms to the 1991 Tegucigalpa Protocol, with the objective of advancing towards the consolidation of regional unity.

    The meeting concluded with both leaders expressing optimism about the future prospects of the bilateral relationship and the potential for collaborative efforts in fostering regional integration and development.

  • El Salvador and EU Collaborate to Boost Salvadoran Exports to European Markets.

    El Salvador and EU Collaborate to Boost Salvadoran Exports to European Markets.

    In a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Economy of El Salvador and the European Union delegation in the country, a seminar is underway to emphasize the significance of promoting Salvadoran exports to the European market.

    The European Union Ambassador in El Salvador, François Roudié, highlighted the ten-year-old partnership, stating, “Today’s event is a great opportunity to discuss our association agreement. This agreement has been instrumental in advancing a more sustainable trade approach.” He further pointed out that exports from Central America to the European Union have surged by 150% since the agreement’s inception, with EU imports increasing by 70%.

    “From 2019 to 2022, Salvadoran exports to the European Union experienced a remarkable 67% growth, soaring from $167 million to $288 million,” revealed the Minister of Economy of El Salvador. “In terms of businesses, we have seen a notable increase, with the number of exporting companies rising from 160 in 2013 to 250 in 2022. We recognize the pivotal role of the association agreement in enhancing our export capabilities and diversifying our market niches.”

    Facilitated by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the seminar aims to provide insights into leveraging the existing trade agreements.

    The Central America-European Union Association Agreement serves as a comprehensive legal instrument, aiming to strengthen political, economic, and social ties between the two regions.

    President Nayib Bukele’s government is actively supporting Salvadoran enterprises by offering technical assistance and guidance to maximize the benefits of current trade agreements.

    Margarita Quintanar, the Director of Trade Treaties Administration in El Salvador, highlighted the key European destinations. “Among the 27 countries, five major players stand out: Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium,” she affirmed.

    As Salvadoran exports continue to flourish, this collaborative effort reflects a commitment to fostering sustainable economic growth and diversifying trade partnerships. The seminar serves as a testament to the positive impact of international cooperation on the Salvadoran economy and its potential for further expansion in the European market.

  • El Salvador Commits $1.8 Billion for Railway Revival in Regional Mobility Plan.

    El Salvador Commits $1.8 Billion for Railway Revival in Regional Mobility Plan.

    To enhance regional connectivity and logistics, the Government of El Salvador has committed to investing more than $1.8 billion in railway infrastructure over the next decade. This ambitious initiative is part of the broader Regional Mobility and Logistics Master Plan 2035, unveiled by the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) and the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (Sieca) yesterday.

    The Regional Master Plan outlines a staggering total investment of $52 billion across six countries in the region, with El Salvador accounting for $10.7 billion. Of this amount, $1.827 billion is earmarked specifically for reviving the dormant railway service, which has been inactive since the armed conflict.

    Minister of Public Works, Romeo Rodríguez, highlighted that a substantial portion of this investment aims to establish a railway network connecting Central America with Mexico. This includes the implementation of the Pacific Train and a monorail in the Metropolitan Area of San Salvador (AMSS). In July of the previous year, the Ministry of Economy submitted a request to the European Bank for $450 million to kickstart these projects.

    El Salvador’s project portfolio also allocates funds for various sectors, including $5.8 billion for road infrastructure, $632 million for port transportation, and $2.113 billion for airport services. Additionally, $35 million is set aside for border improvements and $88 million for urban logistics.

    Minister Rodríguez emphasized that interventions in road infrastructure will significantly reduce the cost of transporting goods, bringing down the average cost from $0.17 per kilometer to $0.05. Furthermore, there is an expected increase in travel speed from 16 km/h to 60 km/h.

    The development of the master plan involved the collaboration of five Japanese companies and received approval from 18 government ministries. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provided the financing and will send a regional advisor to oversee the plan’s implementation.

    JICA’s representative in El Salvador, Masaru Kozono, revealed that the agency will cover the Sieca’s strategy costs to ensure coordination and dissemination of the master plan through social media, workshops, and seminars. Moreover, JICA will train 42 technicians from the region in Japan between 2023 and 2025, providing financial support alongside other entities.

    Minister Rodríguez also announced that the World Bank (WB), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Central American Economic Integration Bank (BCIE) have joined forces to support the strategy. The WB has already approved $150 million for one of the projects: the Apopa Bypass.

    El Salvador’s ambitious Master Plan for Mobility and Logistics 2035 encompasses 11 corridors and 398 projects from Guatemala to Panama. Within this framework, El Salvador will focus on five key corridors:

    1. Road Infrastructure: Allocation of $5.8 billion for road and land transportation, constituting 58% of the plan’s funds.
    2. Aeronautical Infrastructure: A portfolio of $2.113 billion for airport-related projects, including the Pacific Airport.
    3. Maritime Port Infrastructure: An allocation of $632 million for this sector, with the Acajutla Port being the primary platform.
    4. Urban Logistics: Services and products dedicated to improving urban logistics represent an investment of $88 million in the Master Plan.
    5. Customs: Border management, including specific actions to enhance mobility, has the lowest investment at $35 million.

    El Salvador’s commitment to this comprehensive plan is poised to transform the nation’s transportation landscape and contribute to the broader regional goal of fostering efficient mobility and logistics by 2035.