Activists force U.S. Embassy to reverse visa denial to Salvadoran labor leader

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CISPES Update/Alert Follow-up

Victory for solidarity as labor and solidarity activists force U.S. Embassy to reverse visa denial to Salvadoran labor leader

After over a week of calls, faxes, and letters to the U.S. Consul General in El Salvador denouncing their decision to deny labor leader Wilfredo Romero a visa to travel to the United States for a labor conference, the Embassy finally ceded to the pressure and gave Romero a visa for travel to the United States in May. Citing "the significant interest in this case, the Consular office called Romero back into the Embassy last Friday to review his case, and yesterday afternoon they granted the visa. This reverse is a great victory for international solidarity since before the pressure began the Consul had denied even the opportunity for another interview.

Romero will now be able to travel to the Labor Notes conference in early May, where he will speak on a series of panels and meetings about the issue of privatization, and specifically of his union's work to fight the World Bank-backed legislation that would begin privatizing water in El Salvador.

The reversal of this decision is an especially important victory since the U.S. government, through its Consulate in El Salvador, has denied visas for educational tours and exchanges to over 20 labor and community organizers over the past year. Hopefully the pressure exerted on the Embassy over the past week has not only helped Romero gain his visa, but actually set a precedent that will allow more Salvadoran organizers to attend conferences, tours, and exchanges in the U.S.

In fact, as goods and capital move increasingly more freely across borders, we will certainly have to keep pushing to be able to strategize and share experiences of resistance and alternatives across those same borders.

Many thanks to all the union activists, CISPES activists, and other organizations and individuals who pressured the Consul General to make this victory possible. Que viva la solidaridad internacional!

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