Unions in El Salvador are fighting a bill that would auction off everything from highways, ports, and airports to municipal services and higher education to private companies—mainly foreign multinationals. If the Public-Private Partnership, or P3, law is approved, workers in those areas will be vulnerable to the massive layoffs, wage cuts, and anti-union persecution that already characterize private sector work in the tiny Central American country.
Pressure to privatize public services and goods – and concerns about who stands to gain in the process – has become increasingly familiar in the United States, where many communities now face the same policy prescriptions that have been offered to El Salvador and other countries in the Global South for decades.
Since 2010, El salvador’s Ministry of Education has eradicated illiteracy in six municipalities and hopes to declare the country’s illiteracy rate to be 4 percent or less by 2014.This summer, CISPES accompanied the NLP for three weeks – visiting dozens of community literacy circles, promoting the program on local and national media, and helping conduct a literacy census – as the first international volunteer brigade to answer the government’s call and support the literacy program.
As with the water, so too “this land is heavily contaminated,” sighs Father Lorenzo, the priest from the nearby city of Santa Rosa de Lima. In the words of a local man whose father worked for Wisconsin-based Commerce Group: large-scale mining involved “making a pact with the devil.”
El Salvador’s governing leftist party, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), denounced the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party for “generating disorder, chaos [and] violence in the streets, including throwing tear gas at the police, beating people up” as tactics to “promote an environment of un-governability” in El Salvador.
The FMLN took a hit in Sunday’s election, which has raised many questions throughout the country. Jorge Schafik, the FMLN candidate for mayor in San Slavador, called for the “need to do a very thorough self-critical analysis, not go around looking for people to blame, but really to do a deep analysis of what needs to change.”
Violence and intimidation continue in El Salvador against environmental activists and human rights defenders who have publicly opposed metallic mining. The latest round of threats targetted a Salvadoran Catholic priest, Father Neftalí Ruiz, and a community radio station, Radio Victoria.
The global Occupy Movement arrived in El Salvador on Thursday, as about 70 people, roughly half Salvadoran and half U.S. citizens, engaged in a transnational protest in front of the United States Embassy. The movement has designated itself “Los Encachimbados,” which is a colloquial Salvadoran word meaning “indignant.”
Yesterday, President of El Salvador Mauricio Funes swore in retired general David Munguía Payés as the country´s new Minister of Public Security and Justice, following the sudden resignation of Manuel Melgar from the position on November 8. “This was not a decision that the President made; he is simply a spokesperson. It’s a decision that was made somewhere in the U.S. capital,” said Roberto Lorenzana, spokesperson for the governing leftist party, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).
In this interview Salvadoran activist Carolina Amaya says that the challenge of social movements is to deconstruct the false paradigm of development that triggered the economic and environmental crisis that puts the life of our civilization at risk.
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