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Sister Cities is excited to welcome three new team members to El Salvador this month! Joining us is one new staff, who will be based in the San Salvador office, and two interns who will be working in Arcatao.Read more...
<---Social Justice Dog will be there!
Watch our website and Facebook page for registration information and details.
Hello! My name is Cori Ring-Martinez. I am so excited to be a new member of the Sister Cities team. In many ways, this is a homecoming of sorts.Read more...
SAMPLE CALL SCRIPT – Asking your Rep to send a letter to Kerry about MCC manipulation and threats against the Family Agriculture Plan
Hi my name is ________, a constituent from [your city] and a member of the U.S. – El Salvador Sister Cities Network. I am calling because we need Representative ______ to join other members of Congress to ensure that negotiations for a Millennium Challenge Corporation compact with El Salvador don’t threaten one of the country’s most important food security programs. Have you been following the development of the second Millennium Challenge grant to El Salvador?
The Congress and the MCC Board approved a second compact for $277 million in September. But now, before signing it, the US Embassy is demanding that the Salvadoran government make a number of domestic policy changes, including one that would undermine an extremely-successful program to support family farmers and food security in the country.
Over the past few years, the government of El Salvador has implemented a series of programs to alleviate the economic crisis. One of the most successful is the Family Agriculture Plan, which promotes domestic agricultural production by providing corn and bean seeds, fertilizer and technical assistance to the country’s small-scale farmers. The program benefits over 400,000 family farmers and in 2012 and 2013, resulted in record harvests for the country’s basic grains.
Previous administrations purchased all the seeds and supplies for this program from just two corporations—one being a Monsanto subsidiary—but a new bidding process approved by the legislature allows small-scale, local seed producers to participate, too.
The United States Trade Representative says they are concerned that the new mechanism for purchasing seeds violates CAFTA, prompting US Embassy to announce that unless the mechanism allowing the government to purchase seeds from small-scale producers is eliminated, the MCC compact won’t be signed.
There are several major concerns here.
First, the CAFTA claim is suspect, since the new mechanism actually allows for greater competiveness from both national and international seed sellers. So it appears the USTR is simply promoting the interests of big transnational agribusinesses like Monsanto, who used to having a monopoly on the contract.
Second, the Millennium Challenge process should not be used as a vehicle for USTR’s agenda, especially when that agenda runs directly counter to MCC and sustainable development goals. This would set a very dangerous precedent, giving the green light to more US corporations to hijack development aid as a negotiating tool for their own interests.
Lastly, demanding that this mechanism be eliminated will have very serious impacts in El Salvador, with hundreds of thousands of family farmers who are re-building their livelihood thanks to this program suffering the consequences.
Civil society organizations and associations of family farmers in El Salvador are extremely concerned with these attacks on the Family Agriculture Plan and have held peaceful protests outside the US Embassy against interference in their domestic affairs.
ASK (depending on Rep)
Representatives Pocan and Honda are circulating a Dear Colleague letter to Secretary Kerry, as President of the MCC, to stop the MCC funds from being used as a vehicle to promote these narrow corporate interests. Will the Congressperson sign on?
Representatives Pocan and Honda are circulating a Dear Colleague letter to Secretary Kerry, as President of the MCC, to ensure that the MCC funds are used to promote, rather than undermine, sustainable development goals?
He/She can get in touch with Alicia Molt in Rep. Pocan’s office to sign on.