How the people of El Salvador are transforming their country from the grassroots, and why the people of the world must stand with them.
In less than two weeks, I’ll be on a plane to El Salvador! From March 3-17, I’m going on an elections monitoring delegation with the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES).
CISPES is a grassroots non-profit that has been accompanying the Salvadoran people in their struggle for basic human rights since the bloody civil war of the 1980s, when the US was giving millions of dollars in weapons and training to the military dictatorship to violently repress a popular uprising. Though the war ended in 1992, US intervention (primarily through economic policies) and the power of the Salvadoran elite have continued to block democratic progress. It has taken decades of constant organizing for the people of El Salvador to end rightwing rule, overcoming rampant fraud and fear campaigns to elect their first progressive government in 2009. (For more background, please visit the CISPES website: www.cispes.org)
In just over two years since then, an amazing transformation has begun in El Salvador. The new leftist government has been working with communities around the country to implement incredible programs – providing free healthcare, supporting family farmers, making education more accessible, empowering youth and women, raising the minimum wage, eliminating taxes for low-income people, and creating thousands of new jobs!
All of this is at stake in the upcoming legislative and municipal elections. International observation by CISPES and other groups played a major role in the 2009 presidential victory, and the people of El Salvador are again calling for accompaniment at this critical and exciting moment.
Not only will I have the opportunity to stand with the Salvadoran people as they return to the polls and vote to continue this progress, but I’ll be able to meet with social movement groups (labor unions, farmers, environmental activists, youth leaders) and government officials and visit some of the community-based projects that are transforming the lives of working and poor Salvadorans.
When I return, I plan to publish a series of articles and photographs in local Seattle media featuring the stories of the people I meet who are building powerful alternatives to corporate globalization, and the obstacles they still face. These are the stories we so rarely hear that I want to bring into mainstream media. I will also be giving presentations up and down the West Coast, sharing a firsthand account of my experiences in El Salvador (please let me know if you’d like me to speak to your group!). My hope is that these stories will inspire movements in the US that are tackling similar problems and help build cross-border solidarity between peoples who are working toward the same fundamental goal: to create a better, more just world for all.
The minimum amount I need to raise in the next two weeks is $500, which will cover a third of my delegation costs (food and housing). The overall cost of the delegation is about $1500 (flight, in-country expenses, etc.), so anything above $500 would be enormously helpful and minimize the drain on my finances. Thank you so much for any support you can give me, from one dollar to 100!
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