Press Release: US Congress calls for neutrality in upcoming Salvadoran elections!

News

  33 Members of U.S. Congress reject past intervention, declare their intention to respect the results of the  Presidential election in El Salvador 

Representatives Grijalva, Rangel, and others make a call to President Obama’s administration to maintain a positive relationship with the new Salvadoran government, regardless of the elections results of March 15

Contact: Natalie Luna, (520) 622-6788, Press Secretary for Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - At a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol yesterday afternoon, 33 Members of the United States Congress issued a declaration of neutrality and respect for the results of El Salvador's upcoming presidential election. The Members of Congress committed to “honoring and respecting the will of the Salvadoran people when they go to the polls on March 15.”

The declaration, made in a letter addressed to President Obama, was written by Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (Democrat, Arizona) and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (Democrat, Ohio), and was signed by several influential Members of Congress,  including Representative Charles Rangel (Democrat, New York), House Ways and Means Committee Chair, and Representative Nydia Velázquez (Democrat, New York), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

The representatives rejected threats – first made by Bush Administration officials in 2004 – that the U.S. government would punish Salvadorans living in the United States or in El Salvador in the case of a presidential victory by the opposition FMLN party. Representatives declared respect for the Salvadoran democratic process and readiness to work for peace and prosperity in both countries, seeing the recent change in US administration as an opportunity to renovate US foreign policy in Latin America. 

Congressman Grijalva stated, “We need to put the era of intervention and economic coercion behind us…We must fundamentally base our relations on respect for the right of our neighbors to choose their own leaders and their own forms of governments.”

The representatives also denounced the September 2008 speech by Salvadoran Foreign Minister Marisol Argueta, which encouraged the U.S. government to repeat the 2004 interventionist statements that openly endorsed ARENA candidate Antonio Saca. With nearly 25% of El Salvador's citizens living in the United States, and 20% of El Salvador’s GDP comprised of the remittances they send home, the congressional representatives noted the profound effect that such statements made by U.S. officials have in influencing Salvadoran politics.  

At yesterday's press conference, Congressman Grijalva stated, “The people of El Salvador are a sovereign nation with a right to elect a government of their choosing, free of outside coercion.” He refuted pro-ARENA television advertisements that threaten Salvadoran voters with an adverse reaction from the Obama administration in the case of an FMLN victory. In their letter to President Obama, the Members of Congress assured that “the proper position of the U.S. Congress and government is one of neutrality and respect for El Salvador’s independent democratic process.”

The congressional representatives’ declaration reaffirms the statement made in an “Open Letter to Barack Obama” signed by 96 civil society organizations from the United States, Canada and El Salvador, and released last week in the Salvadoran media. The letter represents social movement organizations from various sectors, including Salvadoran immigrant groups, Central America solidarity organizations, labor unions and religious communities.

Amanda Aguilar Shank, an organizer with the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee (PCASC), one of the signers of the “Open Letter,” stated, “The clear statement by Members of Congress, bolstered by the scope of sectors represented in the letter to President Obama, proves that the Salvadoran people's struggle for political self-determination has the support of people and politicians throughout the Americas. 

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Contacts for interviews, statements in United States

 

Natalie Luna, (520) 622-6788

Press Secretary, Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva

 

Amanda Aguilar Shank, (971) 645-5279

Portland Central American Solidarity Committee,  Oregon (PCASC)

 

Esther Portillo, (909) 645-2050

Salvadoran American National Association (SANA)

 

 

Contact for interviews, statements in El Salvador

 

Sophia Cortez, 7715-3973

Salvadoran American National Association (SANA)

 

 

Members of Congress who signed letter to President Barack Obama

Senator Bernard Sanders, Vermont

Representative Raúl Grijalva, Arizona

Representative Marcy Kaptur, Ohio

Representative Charles Rangel, New York

Representative Nydia Velázquez, New York

Representative Michael Michaud, Maine

Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., Illinois

Representative Loretta Sánchez, California

Representative Doris Matsui, California

Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas

Representative James Oberstar, Minnesota

Representative David Wu, Oregon

Representative Diane Watson, California

Representative Maxine Waters, California

Representative Mike Honda, California

Representative Carolyn McCarthy, New York

Representative Barbara Lee, California

Representative Dennis Kucinich, Ohio

Representative Carolyn Maloney, New York

Representative Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin

Representative Jim McDermott, Washington

Representative José Serrano, New York

Representative Danny Davis, Illinois

Representative Chaka Fattah, Pennsylvania

Representative Bob Filner, California

Representative Keith Ellison, Minnesota

Representative Maurice Hinchey, New York

Representative Sam Farr, California

Representative Linda Sánchez, California

Representative Anna Eshoo, California

Representative Bart Gordon, Tennessee

Representative Anthony Weiner, New York

Representative Zack Space, Ohio

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