Seattle CISPES Committee Update
by Alexandria DeLong, Seattle CISPES
2008 is off to an eventful start here in Seattle. We have beenbusy with political work, fundraising, and athletic endeavors, and welook forward to continuing our efforts in all three areas in the comingmonths.
Throughout the day of January 23, Seattle CISPES and over a dozenallied organizations hand-delivered letters to the office of U.S.Representative Jim McDermott in a coordinated effort to persuade him towork to shut down the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) inEl Salvador. The letters expressed grave concern that the US StateDepartment is training El Salvadors repressive and politicizedNational Civilian Police at this institution, which is funded by U.S.taxpayers.
Representative McDermott responded positively to Seattle CISPES in a letter a few weeks later, using much of the same language that our letters had contained. He addressed our concerns and agreed to work with the Appropriations Committee in Congress to reshape the funding for the ILEA program. He expressed gratitude for our concern and encouraged our efforts to raise awareness in hopes that it will spur congressional action. Representative McDermott's support of CISPES campaign will have an influence in addressing the way US tax dollars support repression in El Salvador.
On February 23rd, 18 CISPES activists and students from Seattle University participated in a "Bowl-a-Thon" fundraising event at Sunset Bowl in Seattles Ballard neighborhood. The bowlers requested donations from friends and family to sponsor their participation. The Bowl-a-Thon raised over $1800 to support Seattle CISPES grassroots organizing!
Not only was the event a great success financially, it was also a fun way to get activists together. Munching on snacks and wearing funny shoes is great for bonding volunteers and maintaining positive morale. From "granny-style" rollers to powerful throwers, everyone had a unique bowling style that provided some good-natured laughs. The highest and lowest scoring bowlers received yummy, fair trade prizes, which came in gift baskets. Top bowler Nathan Maas found his basket to also be a lovely decoration for his bike. He may find the basket useful in the next CISPES fundraiser
Seattle CISPES first ever Solidarity Cycle, taking place on May 3rd and 4th, is a creative way to raise awareness about the political issues facing El Salvador while raising funds to put toward our grassroots organizing efforts. Through the Solidarity Cycle we will raise awareness of U.S. intervention in El Salvadors upcoming elections, and build the movement to stop it!
On May 1st we will host a send-off party in Seattle to maintain momentum from the May Day march and prepare cyclists for their journey toward Olympia. On Saturday the 3rd we will begin the trip via bicycle toward Tacoma, where we will work with friendly organizations to host yet another inspiring solidarity event. Cyclists and the support crew will stay the night in Tacoma and head to Olympia the following morning. On the afternoon of May 4th we will arrive in Olympia for a final educational event with our sister CISPES chapter. Following the event, participants will return to Seattle with a greater understanding of our mission and motivation to keep our movement running (or cycling). Sponsored cyclists will raise money for material aid to fund our partner organizations in El Salvador, and the educational events will show other participants the importance of our cause. This effort to raise money and awareness will be an exercise of commitment to the people of El Salvador. n