From the PPP to TPP; Gaza to Texas: It’s Violence. And we are the Media.

Written by Annie Lukins and Seb Harris-Frost

Last week, no international news sensation captivated as much attention in the world arena as the newest wave of brutal attacks on Gaza. The attacks, branded “Operation Pillar of Defense” by Israeli forces finally subsided with a cease fire after eight full days of bombings, but not before 5 Israelis and 160 Palestinians had died. The Israeli Palestinian conflict has wavered in and out of international spotlight since it began over 60 years ago, and arguably, even longer than that. Nothing catapults a news story to the front of international attention like images of destruction, and this conflict is rich in these images; a child buried in the rubble of a home destroyed by missiles, or a pregnant woman killed as she flies from gunfire. These instances of graphic, unequivocal violence should cause us to look deeper into the ways in which violence is perpetrated through institutionalized power relations, often quietly, with no bloodshed, and without the attention of international media.

 

So last Monday in the pouring rain, when CISPES rallied with Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights to pay silent respect to Gaza, we remembered the quiet violence of free trade systems. We’d just come from our weekly meeting at the University of Washington and our Salvadoran compañeros who are threatened, not by missiles, but by the slow creep of privatization were still in our thoughts. Just a few weeks ago the Right wing mayor of San Salvador, Norman Quijano, bulldozed the stalls of street vendors in the downtown marketplace. They destroyed 10,000 dollars of merchandise and over 900 vendors livelihoods. The next week this same mayor ordered raids on the offices of the largest union coalition in El Salvador. He accused them of housing grenades and other weapons, an outrageous accusation. It is suspected that Quijano is targeting vendors and the Salvadoran Union Front because they’re the strongest forces fighting against the Asocio Publico Privado (Public Private Partnership) law. The United States is in the process of pushing PPP under their “Partnership for Growth” program in El Salvador. It would divert funds from the first ever leftist salvadoran government which has been providing universal health care, literacy circles, access to free seed and fertilizer, and other programs for the 99%. All of this, including the air and seaports, water systems, electricity, and education that the people of El Salvador have built and defended against corporate ownership would be offered to the highest bidders. The incredible new social programs would be lost, and residents would be forced to pay while accepting below minimum wages, dangerous working conditions, and sordid services.

After attending the vigil for Gaza, CISPES activists drenched ourselves further as we joined a banner drop at the skybridge by the U District. By pure coincidence, Monday was the day that the Tar Sands Blockade had called for solidarity actions across the country. The banner read, “Seattle Stands in Solidarity.” The day of action was part of a long term campaign to stop construction of a new pipeline that would transport tar sands from Canada across the United States to refineries in Texas. A team of local landowners and environmental activists has staged a blockade in Texas, where construction of the first stretch of pipeline has already begun. TransCanada, the company contracted to build the pipeline, has seized land from Texan landowners unwilling to give it up voluntarily. Under Eminent Domain, a corporation is authorized seize land from the owner of the property to exercise “functions of public character”. Some Texan landowners oppose the construction of a pipeline that would transport what environmentalists call the dirtiest fossil fuel. And they oppose a private company bulldozing farmland and forest to build this pipeline on their property. One Texan landowner attempted to block a bulldozer, and was arrested for trespassing on her own land. The mining of tar sands is a relatively new process, but it has already wreaked devastating environmental damage in Canada, where it is extracted. Too thick to be piped to the surface like conventional oil, tar sands must literally be excavated from the earth. It is necessary to move approximately 4 tons of earth for every single barrel of  tar sands oil. Like so many exploitative projects, the advent of the Keystone XL pipeline can be traced back to the free trade agreements. The so-called “proportionality clauses” under NAFTA obligates Canada to make a full two thirds of their oil available to the United States. While NAFTA stands, there is little alternative to the pipeline.

The push for privatization in El Salvador, the devastation in Canadian land, and the marginalization of landowners’ rights in Texas are quiet, they demonstrate the violence of free trade agreements. It’s frustrating that they receive relatively minor international media attention- overshadowed by more graphic instances of violence that our news system seems to sensationalize. However, free trade devastation can harbor the same death tolls. In El Salvador, the Partnership for Growth program was brought to the country in November 2011 after the resignation of Manuel Melgar from his head position for the Public Security Cabinet. He was focusing on comprehensive reform to gang violence in El Salvador. He was implementing community programs designed to get youth involved in politics and organizing. States that dwelled on these tactics saw huge decreases in violence. A wikileaks cable showed that the US would refuse to establish the Partnership for Growth if Melgar continued to hold his position. At the time the Partnership for Growth sold itself to the Salvadoran government as an economic boost. Melgar was replaced by David Payes, a military general trained by the School of the Americas, and since the Public Security cabinet has been responding to violence in the country with more militarization. Militarizing Mexico, Colombia, as well as the rest of Central America has proved a futile and bloody effort. It’s said that in the past five years of the War on Drugs in Mexico that there have been 48,000 deaths.  While The Partnership for Growth is also the US’s key tool in pushing the Asocio Publico Privado law in El Salvador, that’s only about a fourth of it’s focus. The rest of it’s efforts fuel this very War on Drugs. Evidently, it’s a war on people already impoverished by Free Trade agreements, and who have few other options of making a livelihood. Privatization has been designed to rely on the degradation of the people’s quality of life through institutional violence, one with as many deaths as Israeli occupation.

While Israel’s attacks on Gaza strip weren’t examples of this creeping violence incited by corporate interests, the effects and motives stem from similar sources. As Transcanada’s pipeline and the Partnership for Growth are clear examples of the effects of Free Trade, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict reckons back to the roots of this sort of take over; colonialism. Palestine was taken over by Britain after the First World War and used to hold military bases, this began pushing Palestinians into ghettos and imposing other forms of structural violence. After the Second World War and Israel was established on Palestinian land as a country for Jews, we see the occupation growing more and more violent. The increase in fighting just leads to further development of their weapons technology, which is one of the world’s most advanced. There may be similar economic drivers here as in Texas and in El Salvador. There’s also a corporate sense about states now. In 2005, Israel spent billions in taxpayer’s money on a multi-million dollar Public Relations campaign in response to the decreasing popularity of Israeli-occupation. Known as “Brand Israel” the campaign attempts to frame Israel as a liberal leader in the Middle East for sustainable energy, LGBT Equality and Jews. This is a vain effort to distract from violent checkpoints, discrimination, and imperialism. It’s probable that the media powers of the Free Trade system will attempt wipe the bombing of Hamas from our memories, and daily they neglect institutional violence this same system perpetuates.

Thus, it becomes our duty, more than ever not to turn our faces down from those who are suffering, and whose voices are silenced- whether this suffering is the graphic violence of Gaza or the slow exploitation of free trade. CISPES stands in solidarity with El Salvador, but we must recognize the intersections between and all those who are violently marginalized and oppressed by the free market system. So in closing, we invite you to join us on Saturday, as we protest a devastating Free Trade agreement. The TransPacific Partnership, or TPP, is a new free trade and investor rights deal drafted primarily by corporations which would open up NAFTA style free trade in throughout Pacific countries. Eight countries along the pacific rim have already signed onto the deal, and The United States, Canada, and Mexico are slated to join on December 1st. On Saturday, buses will leave Seattle at 9:30am from Bailey Gatzert Elementary School (Yesler & 14th) and travel to Blaine, WA on the Canadian border. There will be a rally, incredible speakers, an action, and free food! Buses will return to Seattle by 6pm and the ride is also cost free. We hope you can join CISPES in radical solidarity against all corporate sponsored free trade agreements which legitimize corporate greed at the expense of basic human rights. Email seattle@cispes.org  or visit TPPxBorder.org if you can join us. If not please spread the word; we are only as strong as our signal.

Upcoming Seattle CISPES Events include:

  • Our December 14th End of the (Unjust) World Dance Party and Activist Exchange Auction at the Union Cultural Center from 6-9pm. RSVP at seattle@cispes.org and go to the Facebook Event page.
  • Funds rasied will go towards the February Labor Tour in which a Salvadoran union organizer will mobilize U.S. activists and union organizers to join their fight against privatization and the right-wing’s war on worker’s rights! The labor speaker will be touring through Seattle February 2nd- February 4th. For more information, email seattle@cispes.org.

Teach-In at UW

(En español abajo)

What: Teach-in about the struggle of the Salvadoran people against privatization

When: Thursday, November 15 from 6-8 pm

Where: University of Washington, Miller 301

No matter which candidates win this election season, the economic, environmental, and social hardships the United States has caused itself and the world will continue to get worse – unless we the people educate ourselves and take action! Join Seattle CISPES (Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador) for a night of artful activism and honest speak-outs about:
– The Public-Private Partnership laws (PPP) that threaten the 99%
– Upcoming solidarity movements with U.S. and Salvadoran labor struggles that seek to fight the PPP,

– What we can do to support the inspiring example Salvadorans have set for us in healthcare, education, and other social service fields!
This is not just about El Salvador – it’s about our people’s movement that must be continually revitalized! Don’t miss excellent spoken word, music, and reports from CISPES student and community activists on University of Washington’s campus in Miller Room 301 (by the quad) on Thursday, November 15th from 6-8pm.

For more information, email seattle@cispes.org or visit seattlecispes.org.

Qué: Teach-In sobre la lucha de la gente salvadoreña contra la privatización
Cuándo: El jueves, 15 de noviembre a las 6 a 8 de la tarde
Dónde: Universidad de Washington, Miller Hall, 301

No te pierdas esta oportunidad excelente a discutir asuntos importantes, escuchar a la música y los informes de los estudiantes de CISPES y activistas de la comunidad en el campus de la Universidad de Washington, en la Sala Miller 301 (en el patio) en el jueves, 15 de noviembre a las 6 a 8 de la tarde.

A pesar de quien va a ganar en el 6 de noviembre, las dificultades económicas, ambientales y sociales que los Estados Unidos ha causado y sigue causando hoy va a continuar. Sin embargo, podemos cambiar esto si nos educamos y tomamos acción!

Únete con el Seattle CISPES (Comité en Solidaridad con el Pueblo de El Salvador) para una noche de activismo, arte e informes precisos sobre:
– Los leyes de asocio público privado que ponen en peligro los 99%
– Los movimientos de solidaridad con los sindicatos quienes están luchando contra estas leyes
– Lo qué podemos hacer para apoyar a los salvadoreños quienes nos han inspirado por su sistema de salud, educación y otros servicios sociales. Esto no es sólo sobre El Salvador—se trata del movimiento global que debe ser continuamente renovado!

Para obtener más información: mande un correo a seattle@cispes.org o visite nuestro sitio de web: seattlecispes.org

Action Alert: ARENA candidate Norman Quijano terrorizes street vendors

www.seattlecispes.org |206.325.5494 | donate

ARENA Presidential Candidate Attacks Vendors & Workers
TAKE ACTION NOW!

Wreckage of destroyed vendor stalls in downtown San Salvador.

San Salvador Mayor and ARENA Presidential candidate Norman Quijano has launched a series of violent assaults on thousands of street vendors and trade unionists in an attempt to consolidate middle class support for his 2014 electoral bid and begin striking down his political opposition. On Friday night, Quijano orderedthe violent eviction of 4,000 street vendors from the city center, bulldozing 970 stalls, stealing merchandise and inflicting thousands of dollars in damages. Quijano’s offensive continued Monday morning when police shut down the Casa Sindical (Union Hall), headquarters of the Salvadoran Union Front, under orders from the Attorney General after false accusations against the group by the Mayor.

“We call on our compañeros and compañeras around the world to speak out against this attack!”

–Sandra Henríquez, a vendor whose T-shirt, CD, and DVD stall was destroyed Friday night.

“We need people across the world to denounce Mayor Quijano’s thuggish attacks.”

–Wilfredo Berríos, Secretary General of the Salvadoran Union Front.

Take action against these attacks on San Salvador’s vendors and unions NOW!

1. Send an email to Mayor Quijano and send a copy to the Spanish Embassy (vendor evictions were financed with Spanish aid money).

2. If you speak Spanish, call the Mayor’s office at +503 2511 6000 to make your denouncement. Ask the operator to transfer you to the Despacho del Señor Alcalde. Sample phone script at the bottom of email.

3. You can also send a message to Norman Quijano by writing on his Facebook page or publishing a Tweet @norman_quijano. Your Facebook post probably won’t be approved for publication, but we can flood his social media with our denouncements. Sample text for a post or tweet can be found at bottom of email.

Background:

Late Friday night, workers hired by San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano swept into the city center with heavy machinery, accompanied by 1000 municipal security agents in riot gear. Several people were injured as 970 vendor stalls across 33 city blocks were decimated. Over 4,000 vendors have had their livelihoods ruined. Vendors estimate the losses from property theft and destruction in the once-lively marketplace of Hula Hula park alone to be $10,000.

Then, this Monday morning, with many downtown streets barricaded and piled high with rubble, police cordoned off the Casa Sindical, blocking unionists’ entrance to the space. Salvadoran Union Front leader Wilfredo Berrios reports that sources within the government have informed the unionists that Quijano and the leadership of his ARENA party falsely accused organizations of housing weapons in the Casa Sindical.

These violent and repressive measures come as ARENA’s presidential pick, Quijano, prepares for his 2014 election bid to regain the executive post from the leftist FMLN party. These attacks demonstrate the extremes to which ARENA and Quijano are willing to go – 16 months before the February 2014 elections – to undercut the opposition and garner support from the conservative middle class at the expense of vulnerable sectors like street vendors.

Sample call script:

Buen día/Buenas tardes.

Me llamo “John Smith” y le llamo de los EEUU/Cánada/etc. Como miembro de la comunidad internacional quiero expresar mi indignación sobre las últimas acciones del gobierno del Señor Alcalde Norman Quijano.

Reitero las llamadas de las asociaciones de vendedores y del movimiento social salvadoreño y exijo que el Señor Alcalde inmediatamente BUSQUE UN ALTERNATIVA VIABLE PARA LOS MILES DE VENDEDORES Y VENDEDORAS DEL CENTRO CAPITALINO PARA GARANTIZAR SU DERECHO A EMPLEO Y UNA FUENTE DE INGRESO PARA SUS FAMILIAS A TRAVÉS DE UNA NEGOCIACIÓN CON LAS ASOCIACIONES DE VENDEDORES Y CON LA MEDIACIÓN DE UN TERCERO NEUTRAL.

También exijo que el Señor Alcalde RETIRE SU DENUNCIA CONTRA LAS ORGANIZACIONES QUE TRABAJAN EN LA CASA SINDICAL EN SAN SALVADOR Y DEJAR TODAS ACCIONES QUE BUSCAN REPRIMIR Y SUPRIMIR EL MOVIMIENTO SOCIAL SALVADOREÑO.

Estaré pendiente de la respuesta del Señor Alcalde frente las denuncias y la indignación internacional y informaré a los funcionarios de mi gobierno sobre las acciones de la Alcaldía Municipal de San Salvador. Gracies por su tiempo y que pase buen día/buenas tardes.

Sample Twitter statement to post @norman_quijano:

EN LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS [u otro país o la ciudad donde vive] DENUNCIAMOS @norman_quijano POR VIOLENCIA Y REPRESIÓN CONTRA VENDEDORES/AS Y EL MOVIMIENTO SINDICAL.

Translation: In the United States [or other country or city where you live] we denounce @norman_quijano for violence and repression against vendors and the union movement.

Sample Facebook post to publish on Quijano’s wall:

EN LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS [u otro país o la ciudad donde vive] DENUNCIAMOS NORMAN QUIJANO POR VIOLENCIA Y REPRESIÓN CONTRA VENDEDORES/AS Y EL MOVIMIENTO SINDICAL. EXPRESAMOS NUESTRA INDIGNACIÓN FRENTE LOS DESALOJOS VIOLENTOS DE VENDEDORES Y POR DENUNCIAS FALSAS CONTRA LA CASA SINDICAL. EXIJIMOS QUE EL SEÑOR ALCALDE: 1) BUSQUE UN ALTERNATIVA VIABLE PARA LOS MILES DE VENDEDORES Y VENDEDORAS DEL CENTRO CAPITALINO PARA GARANTIZAR SU DERECHO A EMPLEO Y UNA FUENTE DE INGRESO PARA SUS FAMILIAS A TRAVÉS DE UNA NEGOCIACIÓN CON LAS ASOCIACIONES DE VENDEDORES Y CON LA MEDIACIÓN DE UN TERCERO NEUTRAL Y 2) RETIRE SU DENUNCIA CONTRA LAS ORGANIZACIONES QUE TRABAJAN EN LA CASA SINDICAL EN SAN SALVADOR Y DEJE TODAS ACCIONES QUE BUSCAN REPRIMIR Y SUPRIMIR EL MOVIMIENTO SOCIAL SALVADOREÑO.

Translation: In the United States [or other country or city where you live], we denounce Norman Quijano for violence and repression against vendors and the union movement. We express our indignation over the violent eviction of vendors and false denouncements against the Union Hall. We demand that the Mayor: 1) Find an viable alternative for the thousands of vendors in downtown San Salvador that guarantees their right to employment and a source of income for their families through a negotiation process with the Vendors Associations mediated by a neutral third party and 2) withdraw his denouncement against organizations that work in the Union Hall in San Salvador and halt all actions that attempt to repress and suppress the Salvadoran social movement.

Seattle CISPES – Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador

Seattle CISPES | 206.325.5494 | 606 Maynard Ave. S Ste. #102 | seattle@cispes.org | www.seattlecispes.org

Welcome aboard, Kaeley!

Compañerxs,

After carefully reviewing several strong applications and conducting a series of interviews for the strongest applicants, the hiring committee made a decision this week and hired a new coordinator for Seattle CISPES. We would like to extend a warm welcome to our new coordinator, Kaeley Pruitt-Hamm.

Kaeley is a graduate of Willamette University in Salem, OR and has strong ties to the region. She is a Kingian nonviolence trainer and has organized several protest groups in the past, including FOR, the Bring Our Billions Home campaign, the Student Debt Noise Brigade, and the Voices of the 99% concert series. In addition to her organizing experience, she also has fundraising experience with CISPES as a phone banker and has been increasingly involved as a volunteer in the chapter. More importantly, she has demonstrated true CISPES spirit and has carried her fundraising knowledge to other organizations, raising thousands of dollars in the process.

Kaeley has a strong personal connection to El Salvador based on her experiences there, and is very excited to work with CISPES; she said that we were her first choice! Kaeley will start training on October 15 and will take sole responsibility for the coordinator position starting on November 1.

Please join the hiring committee in welcoming Kaeley to Seattle CISPES!

In solidarity,

Chaim Eliyah

NW Regional Fall Camp

CISPES NORTHWEST REGIONAL FALL CAMP

SOLIDARITY ACTIVIST GATHERING

Saturday, October 20–Sunday, Oct. 21

in Portland, Oregon

Hey everyone! You don’t want to miss Fall Camp! It’s like summer camp, but with fall colors and activism galore!

The Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) is holding a training and skill sharing event for activists and student volunteers in the Pacific Northwest. The Northwest Regional Fall Camp happening October 20-21 in Portland, Oregon. Join compañeros from throughout the Pacific Northwest to explore grassroots political power related to El Salvador so that we can ramp up international solidarity efforts in the region!

Activists, healthcare brigade participants, and invited guests (like you!) will report back, build relationships and exchange skills in workshops and strategy sessions, while taking inspiration from the revolutionary struggles of the Salvadoran people!

Please pass this on and REGISTER FOR FALL CAMP (click for link).  Let’s get together to learn about the current situation with our allies in El Salvador and what CISPES is doing to help, as well as to share skills with activists and student organizers!

Please email seattle@cispes.org if you are interested in coming, or want to know more! We will be sending out more details to those who are interested as Fall Camp approaches, along with fun ways you can get involved! We look forward to seeing you there!

registration $35 • transportation, food and housing provided • sliding scale

CISPES is a national, grassroots, volunteer and student-led organization that is committed to dismantling oppression and that works in partnership with grassroots organizations and union organizers in El Salvador to defend Salvadoran autonomy and work for social justice and human rights. If you are interested in volunteering, or want to know more, email us at seattle@cispes.org, call us at +1 (206) 325-5494, or visit our website.

A participant in El Salvador’s National Literacy Program (NLP) stands before a crowd and reads, “My name is Rosa Elena Hidalgo…I would like to thank the Ministry of Education, the El Paisnal mayor’s office, and the teachers. Thanks to their effort, we, the adults, are learning to read and write since as children for various reasons we didn’t. Today our dreams are coming true.” Across the country, tens of thousands of people like Rosa are learning how to read and write.

Under Salvador Sánchez Cerén, former Minister of Education, current Vice President, and historic leader of the FMLN (Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation), the Ministry of Education (MinEd) has changed dramatically. For the first time in El Salvador’s history, the government is providing children with uniforms, school materials, and a daily meal, while at the same time combating illiteracy among adults. Since 2010, the MinEd has eradicated illiteracy in six municipalities and hopes to declare El Salvador’s illiteracy rate to be 4 percent or less by 2014. This summer, CISPESaccompanied the NLP for three weeks, visiting dozens of community literacy circles, promoting the program on local and national media, and helping to conduct a literacy census as the first international volunteer brigade to answer the government’s call and support the literacy program. Twenty-eight university students, teachers, workers, mothers, and retirees participated in this historic literacy brigade, bringing hundreds of donated notebooks, pencils and eyeglasses in tow as material support.

The first level of the NLP program uses a Cuban methodology to teach Salvadorans over the age of 14 how to read and write. They offer two more levels, up to a sixth grade education, after which participants have the option of receiving a high school degree through other MinEd adult education programs. In the first level, many participants start out with shaking hands as they hold a pencil for the first time. However, by their graduation after 5 months, they can read, write and solve mathematical problems at a 2nd-grade level. The second and third levels of the NLP continue to build comprehension, composition and math skills to ensure that participants not only know how to sign their names, but also understand the documents they sign. When the program began in 2010 about 680,000 Salvadorans, or 18% of the population, could not read or write. In two years, over 130,000 adults have become literate.

The first step in the program is to identify the possible literacy students with a door-to-door census conducted by NLP staff and community volunteers. In El Paisnal, high school students and community leaders worked side-by-side with CISPES and the NLP to identify the community members who were illiterate, who would like to join a free literacy class (that could even take place in their home), and who would like to continue their education up to a sixth-grade level. The program’s paid promoters work tirelessly to build local literacy circles in communities by convincing people who cannot read or write, many of whom are women in their 60s, 70s and 80s, to participate in this free literacy program, while simultaneously organizing community members and young students to share their knowledge and time as literacy teachers. Promoters often have to walk for hours to visit communities beyond the reach of public transportation or roads, sometimes enduring harsh weather conditions, to follow the progress of the literacy circles that they helped build. Additionally, they organize promotional events for the program along with the NLP directors. In Cojutepeque, Cuscatlán, municipal and departmental NLP staff and volunteers organized a 3K race in which elementary through high school students and CISPES delegates participated. Local news and radio stations broadcasted the race and invited people to join the literacy program to learn and to teach.

The volunteer literacy teachers, called “facilitators”, are largely middle school and high school students. When we met with them at their schools they carried themselves with the endearing awkwardness of adolescents, but once they were facilitating literacy circles, they became more poised and self-assured. They sat with their family members and neighbors for hours every day for months, slowly going over letters and words. They demonstrated incredible patience and maturity. It was inspiring to watch these kids, some as young as nine-years-old, devoting themselves to their communities.

CISPES Literacy BrigadeThe workbooks used in the NLP also promote awareness of social issues such as violence against women, trash burning, and labor rights. In the second and third levels, participants are asked to comment on how the issues raised in the passages they read are connected to their own lives. In one literacy circle, a group of women and men discussed how it was unfair that women had to do all the chores at home while the men relaxed. In another group, participants discussed a love poem, while in others men sat in sweltering classrooms proudly writing their names.

The range of teaching styles and literacy circle sizes varied widely. In Cuscatlán, the program’s director used a flexible time module to accommodate the busy lives of the participants in his area. We visited one of his literacy circles, where Doña Collinda diligently struggled to learn new letters. She told us that she doesn’t have time to sit and work for two hours every day because she has to leave to sell fish. Even in the time she does have, her daughter-in-law and facilitator had to run a kiosk and attend to her children during class.

Doña Collinda never learned to read and write because she was orphaned as a child and stayed at home to help her aunt. She says that now her aunt feels badly for not sending her to school, but Doña Collinda is not resentful. She is among many whose parents or guardians were unable to send their children to school due to poverty.

One of the meanings of the literacy program’s motto, “Querer es poder,” is “love is power”. The other meaning translates roughly into “wanting enables achieving”. Both of these translations aptly describe the way in which the NLP functions. Before the left came into power in 2009, MinEd adult literacy programs never managed to declare even a single municipality free of illiteracy; while the re-vamped NLP under FMLN leadership has managed to have 6 municipalities declared free of illiteracy in just two years. Despite these successes, right-wing parties and business associations claim the NLP is a gross misuse of public funds. Meanwhile, people from all parties are receiving benefits of the program and, in turn, becoming promoters in their own right. In Santa Cruz Analquito, Cuscatlán a woman with a right-wing GANA (Great Alliance for National Unity) party poster in her yard expressed her appreciation to the FMLN for the program.

The literacy program exemplifies the spirit of FMLN governance, which seeks to create opportunities for tangible changes for the most marginalized communities, by empowering people to be protagonists for change in their lives. “Education is the foundation for development!” was the repeated PNA mantra, and the literacy staff apply this idea to the individual, the community, and society. Literacy is essential for a person, a community, and an entire nation to be independent and free-thinking. Furthermore, the structure of the literacy program relies on active participation from community members working together to educate each other. This collaboration not only strengthens the bonds within communities, but also cultivates the notion that collective action by the community is the way to make positive change. Examining the educational element alongside the collaborative element of the literacy program, it becomes clear that this program is designed to be a building block for a new, egalitarian, democratic Salvadoran society. A country where everyone has a voice and is encouraged to be an active agent for positive change in their community.

Witness for Peace delegation to Honduras

A message from Amy Truax, regional organizer for Witness for Peace:

Hola companer@s,

I am going to be leading a Witness for Peace delegation to Honduras on November 8th with School of the Americas Watch. This delegation will look at the effects of militarization on Honduras, specifically as it relates to the drug war, the SOA, and the 2009 coup (which was orchestrated by SOA graduates). The delegation will spend 8 days in Tegucigalpa and the community of Esperanza and will work primarily with COPINH, an indigenous group who has been doing human rights work in Honduras for decades. There is then the option of continuing on with WFP to the SOA-W vigil in Ft. Benning.
Details: 
When: November 8th-16th (in Honduras) + 16th-18th (if you go on to Ft. Benning)
How much: $960 for the Honduras portion; add $200 for Ft. Benning portion
Application & $150 deposit due: October 8th
More information:  Go here.
This is the first delegation I will be leading and so far we don’t have enough people to make the delegation go. We need a few more people to apply and put in their deposits (by October 8th!!) in order to get it off the ground.
Thank you so much,
Amy Truax