Today, Tuesday December 17th, readers of one of the largest newspapers in El Salvador, La Prensa Grafica, may have been surprised to see a unique headline-"United States Neutral in 2014 Elections". The headline and the two-full pages of coverage on the 2nd and 3rd pages of the newspaper were a result of the effort of organizations like Sister Cities, Cispes, SHARE and SAMPDES (the Salvadoran-American Coalition for Democracy in El Salvador) whose supporters have spent the past few months calling, emailing and meeting with Congresspeople asking them to sign on to a Dear Colleague letter urging the U.S. State Department to make a public declaration of nuetrality in the February elections. 

 

By December 12th the letter 51 members of Congress had signed the letter and on December 16, Congressional sponsors Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA), Rep.Mike Honda (D-CA) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) sent the letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.  During Sister Cities' October Mid-West tour Sister Cities committee members and staff met with representatives in Texas, Madison and Chicago, all of whom signed the letter and Marc Pocan was among the sponsors. Folks from other Sister Cities also contributed by pushing their representatives to sign on in states like Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maine.

The suprise came this morning when we saw that the media coverage of the Dear Colleague letter was so great that Mari Carmen Aponte, U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, was forced to respond and give an official declaration of nuetrality. You can see Aponte's comments covered in the La Prensa Grafica here and in ContraPunto.com here.

Although Aponte was quoted as saying " we don't know what motivated the letter, the only thing I can say is that we will not intervene in any way, that Salvadoran people will be the ones making this decision" solidarity activists and Salvadoran community leaders have been very worried by Aponte's and the State Departments meddling in Central America. Most recently, Salvadorans and solidarity activists who observed the elections in Honduras or watched the scene playout from afar were upset, if not surprised, by the way the U.S. Ambassador there, Lisa Kubiske, legitimized the extremely flawed elections and joined the mainstream press in pre-maturely naming Juan Orlando Hernandez the winner before all votes had been counted. While the U.S. Ambassador in El Salvador has not had the chance to endorse a fraudulent election, she has been meddling in the democratic process by repeatedly urging the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly to pass privatization measures or face the loss of the multi-million dollar Milleniam Challenge Grant aid project (click here for more on that.) 

Read the full letter to Sec. Kerry here in English (with signatures) and here in Spanish.

Read press statements regarding this Congressional letter by Rep. Vargas and CISPES.

Congressional Signers:

  1. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) – sponsor
  2. Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) – sponsor
  3. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) – sponsor
  4. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA)
  5. Rep. Gloria Negrete MacLeod (D-CA)
  6. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA)
  7. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
  8. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)
  9. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
  10. Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA)
  11. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)
  12. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
  13. Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-NY)
  14. Rep. George Miller (D-CA)
  15. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA)
  16. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY)
  17. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL)
  18. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
  19. Rep. José Serrano (D-NY)
  20. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
  21. Rep.  Hank Johnson (D-GA)
  22. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
  23. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME)
  24. Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA)
  25. Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA)
  26. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI)
  27. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)
  28. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)
  29. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
  30. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA)
  31. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
  32. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)
  33. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)
  34. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
  35. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA)
  36. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
  37. Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA)
  38. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
  39. Rep. John Tierney (D-MA)
  40. Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)
  41. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
  42. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD)
  43. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL)
  44. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA)
  45. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA)
  46. Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
  47. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)
  48. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)
  49. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
  50. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
  51. Rep. Carol Shea Porter (D-NH)