Sister Cities in the News

 

July 17-25 in El Salvador

 

In 2016, US-El Salvador Sister Cities, SHARE, and Salvaide celebrate over 30 years of international solidarity with CRIPDES and the Salvadoran social movement. As we look back and celebrate the advances and challenges, we also look forward to new strategies and new generations of leadership.

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March 14, 2013
by Gerson Chávez (
Diario El Mundo), translation by Cispes.org

A hundred unionists marched to the US Embassy in Santa Elena yesterday to demand that US Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte cease pressuring for the passage of the Public-Private Partnership Law.

According to Wilfredo Berríos, coordinator of the Salvadoran Union Front (FSS), approval of this law would prompt the privatization of health care, water and other public services. He also said that it would generate lay-offs on a grand scale. Yesterday, President Funes’ Chief of Staff  denied that the law would result in the privatization of public services. However, the FMLN [leftist political party, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front] has since requested that the public health care, education and security services be excluded from the public-private partnerships that will be permitted under the law.

This demand by the FSS was accompanied by North American representatives of US-based organizations in El Salvador, including the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES).

“We are very concerned that the US Ambassador is vigorously pressuring El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly to approve the Public-Private Partnership law, even to the extent that she has threatened the approval of a second Millennium Challenge Corporation project if the Legislative Assembly doesn’t approve this law”, said Rosemary Ramsey, one of the organizational representatives.

The members of these US-based organizations also publicly called on the diplomat not to use international aid funding to manipulate processes in El Salvador.

On hundred people participated in the protest and no disturbances were recorded.

Check out this short video in English taken at the protest: http://youtu.be/dFQ9R0TQAQM

Read more Salvadoran media coverage on this action (Spanish language):

News Millenium: Sindicalistas se manifestan ante la ley de asocio público-privado

VerdadDigital.com: Organizaciones sindicales rechazan Asocio Público-Privado

Contrapunto: Se aviva debate por asocios público-privado

Diario CoLatino: Ejecutivo asegura que Asocios Públicos-Privados serán un fomento a la inversión

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The petition demanding that Ambassador Aponte stop pressuring the Salvadoran government to pass the Public Private Partnership Law was signed by nearly one thousand U.S. citizens and residents. Here is the text of the petition, which was presented to Melissa Woolfolk, of the Political Department of the U.S. Embassy. 

Honorable Ambassador Aponte:

We the undersigned are appalled by your attempts to force the government of El Salvador to pass the proposed Public-Private Partnership Law. Your threats to withhold millions in Millennium Challenge development aid - repeatedly stated to the Salvadoran media - violate the sovereignty of the Salvadoran people and government to decide their position on this law without coercion by the US State Department.

Many Salvadoran labor and community organizations have expressed opposition to the Public-Private Partnership Law on the grounds that it will result in corporate control of state services and industries, rising costs for essential services, massive lay-offs, deteriorating working conditions and loss of revenue for the state. In fact, these have been the results of past privatization efforts in El Salvador.

These Salvadoran constituents are exercising their legal, democratic right to lobby their government representatives to vote down this law. It is the Salvadoran electorate – not the United States government – that should be directing El Salvador’s economic policy.

We demand that you:

1) Stop using international aid money to manipulate El Salvador’s sovereign democratic process.
2) Stop pressuring the Salvadoran government to pass the Public-Private Partnership Law.
 

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Press Release

For decades, the U.S. organizations the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities, the Joining Hands Network, and the SHARE Foundation have accompanied the Salvadoran social movement in its efforts to construct a country with social and economic justice, free of interference from foreign governments, especially the US government. 

This morning, we are here in front of our government’s Embassy, representing the members of our respective organizations, having just presented a petition signed by more than 1,000 U.S. citizens and residents denouncing the our government and our Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte’s intervention in direct violation of the Salvadoran people’s sovereignty.

Currently, El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly is debating a Public-Private Partnership law. This proposed law was written by the Salvadoran government and advisors from the U.S. Treasury Department as an initiative of the Partnership for Growth, a bilateral economic agreement between the U.S. and El Salvador.

The Public-Private Partnership Law faces  strong opposition from El Salvador’s unions and social movements who argue that it is a new form of privatization that would offer up all public institutions and services – from the ports, airports, highways, prisons and state electrical company to municipal services like water and education – for auction to private sector bidders, favoring transnational and U.S. companies. In addition to critizicing the law for possible violations of El Salvador’s Constitution, Salvadoran workers know from past privatizations and concessions that this proposed law would be harmful for public sector workers and could increase the costs of basic services for the Salvadoran people.

We are very concerned that the U.S. Ambassador, Ms. Mari Carmen Aponte, is vigorously pressuring El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly to approve the Public-Private Partnership law in spite of the outcry of Salvadoran civil society, which opposes the law. The Ambassador has even threatened that if the Legislative Assembly does not pass the law, she will not approve the second Millennium Challenge Corporation project, a development aid project financed with the tax-dollars of US citizens and residents.

Ms. Aponte’s pressure and threats represent a clear violation of the sovereign democratic processes of El Salvador. The legislators in the Legislative Assembly should respond only to the interests of the Salvadoran people and Constitution, and not have to make decisions out of fear of U.S. government reprisals. Furthermore, we are outraged that the Ambassador would use funds that come from our tax-dollars to manipulate the internal processes and decisions of the Salvadoran government.

Throughout the United States, workers, unions, community organizations, labor councils and congressional representatives have  been learning about the Ambassador’s interventionist actions, and are sending letters and making phone calls to the Embassy to demand that the Ambassador stop interfering in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs.

We demand that the role of our government and our Embassy in El Salvador be one of respect and support for the Salvadoran people, and not an arrogant role that puts the interests of U.S. and transnational companies over the rights of Salvadoran workers and families.

Therefore, this morning we are presenting a petition signed by more than 1,000 U.S. citizens and residents that demands that the U.S. Ambassador:

1) Stop using international aid money to manipulate El Salvador’s sovereign democratic process.
2) Stop pressuring the Salvadoran government to pass the Public-Private Partnership Law. 

 

 

Today, June 28th, 2013 about 125 folks from the Movement of Popular Resistance and solidarity organizations gathered outside the Honduran embassy in San Salvador to commemorate the 4th anniversary of the military coup in Honduras and to demand that the U.S. government cut military aid to Honduras, which has been increasing each year since the 2009 coup. The Salvadoran protesters, who came from departments as far flung as Chalatenango, Santa Ana and San Vicente, also demanded that the Salvadoran government send observers to Honduras to make sure the elections are democratic. In addition to Sister Cities, four other solidarity organizations signed on to the event and press release, including the Share Foundation, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES),  the Center for Exchange and Solidarity (CIS) and Voices on the Border. The event was covered by 5 Salvadoran radio and T.V. stations.

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Female farmers protesting the free trade agreement with EuropeOn July 4th,the Movement of Popular Resistance (MPR-12) and Confederation of the Agrarian Reform (CONFRAS) held a rally and press conference in front the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly  demanding the assembly pass a Food Sovereignty Law with a gender equality focus. The MPR-12 is a coalition conformed unions, organizations of farmers and poor urban folks and student organizations who have been working together to pass a Water Law, a Food Sovereignty Law and a Law to Ban Metallic Mining.  

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 By Alexandra Early, Sister Cities El Salvador co-coordinator

The Salvadoran people have been waiting for seven years for the Legislative Assembly to pass a comprehensive law to protect their right to safe and clean water. In July they decided they are done waiting and staged a series of rallies, road blocks and press conferences to pressure the legislature to pass the law. The water law, which the social movement proposed in 2006, would define water as a public good and a human right and protect it from privatization and pollution.

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