US Organizations Denounce Environmental Degradation and Threats to Democracy
World Environmental Day: US Solidarity Organizations Concerned About Environmental Degradation and Threats to Democracy in El Salvador
WorldFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Samantha Pineda, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), (202) 820-1894 (Whatsapp) or [email protected].
San Salvador - On June 5th, World Environmental Day, US solidarity organizations issued a joint statement regarding environmental and human rights struggles in El Salvador, naming significant deterioration of both surface and underground water sources, pollutants discharged directly into bodies of water and urban developments as among the main environmental problems facing the country.
The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), the SHARE Foundation, Voices on the Border and the U.S.- El Salvador Sister Cities Network, expressed concerns about the Bukele Administration’s failures to implement government policies that address urgent environmental concerns that are among the most pressing demands of the Salvadoran social and popular movements.
The groups note that since taking office, the administration has failed to respond to demands for stronger environmental protections, instead fast-tracking so-called development projects that threaten the lives and livelihood of Salvadorans. “We are concerned that environmental policy has in no way been a priority for this government during its first year in office. Instead, the destruction of ecosystems continues.”
The groups echoed the environmental, religious, labor and community organizations in El Salvador that are calling on the Bukele administration to take a firm stance on issues such as the human right to water. “The inability to provide water to the population, in sufficient quantity and acceptable quality, is another example of the environmental mismanagement of this government and something that should have been foreseen to adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The groups also recognized the links between ecological destruction and the population’s vulnerability to environmental catastrophes, such as recent tropical storm Amanda, which killed 27 people and left hundreds without a home, lamenting the government’s dismantling of the national Civil Protection Services that had been established under the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) administrations.
Raising red flags regarding the safety of environmental defenders in the country, the organizations also denounced recent authoritarian actions that threaten democracy and human rights. “Instead of focusing efforts to strategically address the country's environmental problems, President Bukele has dedicated himself to confronting the other branches of government… This situation is leading the country toward a marked setback in terms of democratic functioning and respect for the human rights of the population.”
As U.S.-based organizations advocating for a more just foreign policy toward Central America, they also committed to “organizing opposition to U.S. government policies and corporations that undermine ecological sustainability and economic justice in El Salvador, from [policies that promote] privatization to infrastructure projects that pose risks to the environment, jeopardize the health and well-being of local communities or violate national sovereignty.”