CISPES Committee Profile: DC CISPES


By Sara Wallace-Keeshen

“No more unjust trade agreements,”chanted local trade justice activists on Tuesday, October 13th as they hoisted“Drop NAFTA and CAFTA!” and “Stop U.S. Economic Exploitation” signs and marchedto demand that Congress address the root causes of immigration and keepfamilies together. On October 13th, the newly formed D.C. CISPES committeejoined Witness for Peace, Alliance for Global Justice and other trade justiceorganizations to form a 40 person trade-justice bloc that marched in solidaritywith local immigrant rights activists, day laborers, and community-basedorganizations for  just and humaneimmigration reform. According to Arturo Viscarra, the D.C. CISPES chapter'sanalysis of the root causes of migration was crucial in uniting anti-free tradeand immigration reform organizations, which strengthened the immigrant rightsmarch at the U.S. Capitol.

Asa new committee located in the heart of U.S. Empire, D.C. CISPES is placed in aunique position to strengthen relationships with the Salvadoran community whileactively pressuring the U.S. government to roll back the neo-liberal economicmodel, repeal CAFTA and stop other forms of economic, political and militaryintervention in El Salvador and across Latin America. Building off the energyof the FMLN’s presidential victory in March, the D.C. CISPES committee began togrow and evolve last spring, drawing in local D.C. community members andexperienced organizers excited about tackling U.S. imperialism on a local levelin the nation's capital. Election Observation delegates from the D.C. areaarrived back to the U.S. ready to talk to the press and to organize report-backsthat would draw connections between the Salvadoran social movement and localwomen’s rights groups, labor unions, and the D.C. chapter of the FMLN -- eventswhich officially launched the a CISPES committee in D.C.

This summer, D.C. CISPES also worked with the National Office and the D.C. FLMN chapter to welcome FMLN representative Audelia Lopez on the 2009 Victory Tour by hosting a series of public events and meetings, ranging from an event with Salvadoran hotel-worker organizers and youth in Chirilagua, Virginia, to a brown-bag lunch discussing issues and obstacles women confront as organizers, especially in the labor movement.

After an event-filled summer, members of the D.C. committee have hit the ground running, working to build and strengthen relationships with Salvadoran and [email protected] youth organizations and recruit youth to attend CISPES' Salvadoran-American youth delegation, “Radical Roots,” to El Salvador this January. In addition to work around the delegation, committee members have organized actions in solidarity with the Honduran resistance, including the prominent unfurling of a “Fuera Golpistas! (Coup Plotters, Out!)” banner at a National Press Club event attended by right-wing businessmen and diplomats defending the military coup, only to be escorted out while chanting, “The blood is on your hands!”

Most recently, committee members have been planning a regional anti-mining forum, set for early December in New York City, as part of the national campaign to pressure Pacific Rim Mining to drop its lawsuit against the Salvadoran government.           

D.C. CISPES is strengthening existing relationships that the National Office has built with local social and economic justice organizations, and expanding the base of people committed to organizing in solidarity with the social movement of El Salvador. With the support of the national office and a growing relationship with the local Salvadoran community, activists hold high expectations for the committee's development. As committee member Rebecca Mintz stated, “we hope to expand and strengthen our relationship with the D.C. FMLN committee, and build a larger community of folks who are excited about challenging U.S. imperialism through organizing here in Washington.”

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