FMLN Kicks off 26th Anniversary with Presentation of Alternative Proposal on Crime Prevention
Tens of thousands of people from across El Salvador converged at the Cuscatlán stadium this past Saturday to participate in the FMLN’s “Festival for Peace, Security and Social Justice” as the start to the week-long celebration of the guerilla organization-turned-political party’s 26th anniversary. The enthusiastic crowds listened to bands from across the Americas play new and historic revolutionary music and heard speeches by prominent FMLN leaders. The centerpiece of the festival was the presentation of the party’s alternative proposal to address the levels of crime in El Salvador, which are now the highest in all of Latin America. While all of ARENA’s “Iron Fist” approach to fighting crime has led to increased repression, the FMLN’s proposal centers around crime prevention and an overall policy that addresses all levels of government functioning.
Medardo Gonzalez, the FMLN General Coordinator, called on everyone to be active in the effort to make communities safer. “We all need to come together in this effort to lift this country out of the insecurity that the governments of ARENA have submitted it to. Municipal governments, Congress people, and all FMLN officials from their positions should work to create jobs and preventive security. Communities need to organize to overcome this crisis,” he said. The FMLN proposal is based on the respect for human rights, the defense of the constitution, and the promotion of democracy as established in the 1992 Peace Accords. It addresses violence and crime through an integral approach, taking into consideration its structural causes like unemployment, marginalization, lack of opportunities (especially for youth), family disintegration and institutional inefficiency.
At the local level, the proposal aims to transform municipalities into what the FMLN is calling “safe cities” by creating municipal committees to plan and implement crime prevention, citizen education and training, and sports and recreational programs for youth. Simultaneously, the proposal recommends re-directing the work of institutions like the Attorney General’s Office, the Judicial System, and the National Civilian Police to end impunity and focus on social reinsertion, and simultaneously seeks to strengthen them by allocating adequate resources to these institutions. The FMLN’s proposal also includes gun control, an issue ARENA has been unwilling to touch because of its party members’ profits from the arms importing business.
US pushes for further militarization of public security at hemispheric Defense Ministerial
The Seventh Western Hemisphere Defense Ministerial was held last week in Managua, Nicaragua, which brought together the Defense Ministers of over 30 Latin American nations to discuss issues of security and proposals for cooperation. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld again used the occasion to push the U.S.’s agenda for creating a regional security strategy and coordinating military and security efforts in fighting drug-trafficking, terrorism gang violence, and other “threats” to the region. Venezuela has been critical of the U.S.’s military interventionist history, and has put forward a counter-proposal for regional integration led by Latin American nations, not by the U.S.
The Ministerial took place in Managua just one month before the country’s contested presidential elections scheduled for November 5th. This is the first time a Central American country hosts the Ministerial, since its inception in 1994. In light of recent US attempts to influence the Nicaraguan elections, holding the Ministerial in Nicaragua is seen as a backing to the current right-wing government. Opposition political parties in Nicaragua have also pointed to ARENA election official’s presence in Nicaragua right before the elections, and their technical support to the right-wing party, as illegal intervention in the elections. Opposition candidates say they suspect that ARENA officials are helping the Nicaraguan right-wing prepare election fraud, based on their experience in El Salvador.
Major mobilizing in preparation for October 17th protests against water privatization
Preparations are underway for next week’s anti-water privatization protest. The “National Forum for the Defense of the Sustainability and the Right to Water,” an alliance made up of 37 different social organizations, will make its first public statement that same day against water privatization as a showing of national unity around the issue. October 17th was chosen as the day for action because it is also the National Day of ANDA (National Water Administration) Workers. CISPES plans on publishing an open letter to President Saca in El Salvador’s major newspaper that day to accompany the action and back organizing against privatization in the face of an increasingly repressive government. The letter calls on Saca to respect the right to organize and to show the government’s commitment to human rights by investigating recent threats and attacks on unionists and other social movement leaders.