We Stand in Solidarity with our Salvadoran Allies Against the US Manipulation of Development Aid
San Salvador – June 6, 2014, in front of the US Embassy.
This morning, we as solidarity organizations based in the United States- Committees in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), US –El Salvador Sister Cities, the SHARE Foundation, and Joining Hands El Salvador Network (RUMES)– will deliver a petition signed by 1,000 U.S. citizens denouncing the manipulation of Millennium Challenge Corporation funds by the U.S. Department of State against the current policy of purchasing Salvadoran non-transgenic seeds distributed as part of the Family Agriculture Plan by the Ministry of Agriculture.
We share the concerns of our Salvadoran allies against this intrusion of the Embassy in the sovereign politics of this country and we declare our solidarity in their struggle to defend the purchase of native Salvadoran seeds. The purchase of these seeds is a fundamental component of the Family Agriculture Plan, which has generated employment and income for the Salvadoran cooperatives and has increased crop production significantly. This year, the program is benefiting more than 400,000 small farmers and their families, and has been applauded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the US government itself.
Without this program, thousands of small and medium producers would be excluded from the opportunity to sell their seeds to the government just because of being small businesses. Thus, the decree to promote domestic production of maize and bean seeds has also managed to break a monopoly maintained for many years by two companies, Semillas Cristiani Burkhardt, importer of Monsanto, and Fertica. The seeds now being distributed also have the advantage of being native, resistant to climatic conditions of El Salvador and a fundamental part of Salvadoran culture.
As U.S. citizens, we are outraged that the Embassy invokes the free trade agreement CAFTA to demand that the government of El Salvador remove the provision that promotes seed production by small domestic producers, with clear intentions to advance the interests of transnational agricultural companies. The U.S. has no right to threaten this successful program that is essential for El Salvador’s progress towards food security and sovereignty in a sustainable and equitable manner.
The invocation of CAFTA on the subject shows us that our Salvadoran allies concerns on the danger of FTAs are justified, especially concerns about unfair competition from U.S.-subsidized agriculture in addition to interference in El Salvador’s sovereign domestic policy, which necessitates our continued accompaniment in their resistance to the implementation of CAFTA.
This is not the first time we have observed the manipulation of the MCC approval process for certain large economic interests. We recall that the passage of the Public-Private Partnerships law was a prerequisite for MCC disbursement, despite widespread resistance from Salvadoran environmental and union organizations.
In light of the inauguration of the new President of El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the result of a peaceful transition of power, we were glad to see the Department of State to take a respectful position towards the democratic process in El Salvador. However today, the actions of the Embassy seriously call in question our government’s respect for Salvadoran sovereignty and the right of the Salvadoran state to develop and promote public policies that continue to diminish poverty through support for cooperatives and micro, small and medium-sized producers.
Therefore, we demand that the Obama administration cease to condition the MCC Funds, and to stop pressuring to change this and other successful programs implemented through democratic and sovereign processes by Salvadorans to reactivate the productive fabric of their country. We stand in solidarity with the Salvadoran ecological, peasant, labor and community organizations in their struggle to defend the national buying of seeds through the Family Agriculture Plan, and denounce any interference from our government against them. International cooperation should be an instrument of support and respect, not imposition and blackmail.