Salvadoran Labor Front Defends the Right to Organize; FMLN Celebrates National Convention

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FSS defends the right to organize

Under pressure from ARENA,  the Salvadoran Supreme Court declared onOctober 31 that agreements 87 and 98 of International LaborOrganization ( ILO) were unconstitutional. These agreements grant theright to organize and hold strikes to workers in the public sector, yetthe Supreme Court declared that allow for strikes to occur in thepublic sector would cause suspension of essential public services.

One immediate reaction from labor organizations was to present a resolution to the Legislative Assembly demanding the removal form office of Labor Minister Jose Roberto Espinal for his role in this decision. Meanwhile the Salvadoran Union Front (FSS) is focusing its organizing efforts to defend the workers right to organize as declared by the constitution and by the previously approved ILO agreements 87 and 98.

The General Health Workers Union SIGESAL recently announced a series of protests against the Supreme Courts decision, declaring their right to organize as a union. SIGESAL representative Mario Arevalos, stated that This decision has clear political connotations; the government fears that our right to organize will complicate the electoral panorama that is coming up.  The FMLN criticized the decision of the Court and warned that the decision was a political maneuver through legal avenues.

 FMLN celebrates National Convention and Mauricio Funes Visits 70 Municipalities

On Sunday November 11th, the FMLN celebrated their XXIII National Convention. The date was chosen to commemorate the historical Final Offensive of 1989 and for the ratification of popular journalist Mauricio Funes and historic leader Salvador Sanchez Ceren as the FMLN presidential candidates for the upcoming 2009 elections. On Sunday the National Convention celebration brought together more than 60,000 people at the Cuscatlan Stadium in San Salvador, and involved the participation of international delegations from Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil and the United States, as well as the participation of the newly elected President Alvaro Colon of Guatemala. The National Convention was broadcasted live on radio stations, local TV channels, and around the world via the internet.

The ratification of the presidential candidates brought great excitement to the social movement, the FMLN, and the population in general as Funes and Sanchez Serens candidacies were endorsed by many sectors as the winning combination for an FMLN triumph in the electoral process. The presidential candidate, Mauricio Funes, returned to his political work last week and is dedicating his campaign effort (and possible triumph!) to the life of his son, 27 year old son Alejandro Funes, who died last month.

Currently, Funes is visiting 70 municipalities in a national tour, during which he will lead the FMLNs Open Dialogue (Dialogo Social Abierto) that will allow Salvadorans to help to define the governmental platform of the FMLN.  The tour has already begun in municipality of Soyapango, where hundreds gathered to hear Funes. In his speech, Funes asked the population to defeat ARENAs terror campaign by unveiling the truth behind ARENAs usual warnings on the dangers of communism and the damage to the US-El Salvador relations as the result of a possible FMLN victory.

 ARENAs TPS Immigration Tactic Failing

In recent months ARENA has announced the granting of the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) to Salvadorans who immigrated to the United Stares after the 2001 earthquakes.  The move is seeing  as part of ARENAs electoral campaign and not as an immigration policy that benefits all Salvadoran. Last week, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service wrongly declared that it had received 195,000 applications for TPS extension, when the number has only been 126,000 (according to El Diario de Hoy.)  TPS only benefits a fraction of Salvadorans living in the United States, as well over 2 million currently reside in the U.S.. 

TPS also fails to address the larger issues around immigration to the U.S. because it does not address the conditions that force Salvadorans to leave their country in the first place: the number of lives lost in crossing the U.S. border, conditions in the U.S. that discriminate against immigrants, the vast amount of deportations of Salvadorans from the U.S. back to El Salvador daily (amounting to 30,000 so far this year).  According to some figures, 700 Salvadorans leave El Salvador for the U.S. every day, fleeing the repressive economic and political situation, and deportations in 2007 have already amounted to more than 30,000 Salvadorans.  Both the Saca and the Bush Administration have failed to fully address the dire situation of immigration.

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