Call on Congress to sign letter rejecting U.S. Intervention in Salvadoran Elections

Today is the final day to get reps to sign on the letter to President Obama !
U.S. Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) andMarcy Kaptur (D-OH) are circulating a Dear Colleague letterto encourage other Representatives to sign on to a letter to PresidentBarack Obama calling for the U.S. government to remain neutral in ElSalvador's March 15 presidential race, respect the election results, andwork toward a positive relationship with whichever party is elected. Withless than a month remaining before election day, this urgent letter is now open for all Members of Congress to sign. (The deadline for signers is March 4; see belowfor the text of the letter to Obama and the Dear Colleague.)

Callyour U.S. Representative TODAY to insist that s/he add his or her name tostatement in defense of democracy inEl Salvador by Rep. Grijalvaand Rep Kaptur!  Call the Congressional switchboard to be connectedto your Representative's office: (202) 224-3121. *Call script at the end of this alert.



Public statements made by high levelU.S. officials in the weeks leading up toEl Salvador 'slast presidential election, in 2004, threatened Salvadoran voters intore-electing the right wing ARENA party. Undersecretary of State RogerNoriega traveled to El Salvador a month before the election to publicly endorse ARENA candidate AntonioSaca and warn that relations with theU.S. would deteriorate if theopposition FMLN party were elected. The week before the election,Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) threatened that theU.S. would stop the flow of remittances senthome by Salvadorans living in theU.S. in the case of an FMLNvictory.

The threats made in 2004 were widely reported bythe Salvadoran media as accurate statements ofU.S. policy, and contributed toSaca's victory at the polls. In recent months, right-wing campaignadvertisements have sought to resurrect these threats, claiming that the2.5 million Salvadorans living in theU.S. , and the billions ofdollars they send home every year, will be placed in danger if the FMLN'scandidate, Mauricio Funes, is elected in March.

With a new administration in the White House,Salvadoran voters are awaiting assurance that theU.S. will respect their rightto elect their own president, free from outside manipulation. Call on your Congressperson to assert that theU.S. must respect the democratic will of the Salvadoran people.


1) Call the Congressional switchboard to betransferred to your Representative's office:

2) Ask to speak to the staff person in charge offoreign policy. If that person is not available, leave a voicemail.


Call Script for support toGrijalvas Dear Colleague letter on El Salvador elections

Youcan use the following script to talk with the congressional aid of yourrepresentative. If at any point you get cut off, be sure to make the finalstatement I encourage Representative _____ to sign on tothis important letter in support of free and fair elections inEl Salvador !

Here's what to say (the first twoparagraphs are the most important):

  • My nameis [your name] I am calling as a constituent to ask that[Representative's name] sign on to a Congressional letter to PresidentObama that has been initiated by Representative Raúl Grijalva[Gree-hall-vah]. This letter calls for U.S. neutrality with respect to the upcoming presidential election inEl Salvador ,and pledges that Members of Congress will seek a positive relationshipwith whichever party is elected.
  • To signon to this letter, please contact Daniel Brito at RepresentativeGrijalva's office. His phone number is (202) 225-2435.
  • Thisstatement is urgently important. During ElSalvador 's 2004 presidential campaign, BushAdministration officials and some Members of Congress threatened topunish the people of ElSalvador if they elected theopposition party's candidate. Campaign ads being aired inEl Salvador right now are resurrecting those threats. President Obama and hisadministration need to be made aware of this unfortunate precedent sothey can chart a more responsible, respectful foreign policy.
  • Furthermore,Salvadorans need to hear a clear message from Congress that assuresthem they can vote according to their own free will, rather than inresponse to threats and manipulation from theU.S. government.
  • Thank youfor your time, and I encourage [Representative's name] to sign on tothis important statement in support of free and fair elections inEl Salvador .

For more information on the upcoming elections inEl Salvador :

-        CISPES elections blog:

-        January 2009 elections report:ElSalvador Election Observation Report, January 18 elections

-        The 2009 Salvadoran elections:Between Crisis and Change:


Foreign Affairs, Immigration:Dear Colleague: Respect Salvadoran Elections

From: The Honorable Raul M. Grijalva
Date: 2/23/2009


RespectDemocracy in El Salvador: Letterto President Obama Calling for Non-intervention in PresidentialElection

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in writing to President Obamato encourage him to fulfill a historic opportunity to build a newrelationship with our neighbors in theAmericas based on mutualrespect.

The upcoming Presidential election inEl Salvador , the first in theAmericas since President Obama was elected,is a chance for the UnitedStates to demonstrate that it willrespect the results of our neighbors elections, and will notintervene in support of one party or candidate over another.

BeforeEl Salvador s 2004 presidentialelection, US officials attempted to sway the vote by suggesting that in the event of a victory by theopposition party, the legal status of Salvadoran immigrants living in theU.S. would be jeopardized and remittancessent to El Salvador byfamily members in the U.S. could be outlawed.

Remittances arebelieved to comprise roughly 20% ofEl Salvador s GDP, andconsequently these threats were widely covered in the Salvadoran press andhad an enormous impact that lingers to this day.

We believe that the proper position of the U.S.Congress and government is one of neutrality and respect forEl Salvador sindependent democratic process, allowing the Salvadoran people to make afree choice of personal conscience, a choice which can only be done in theabsence of coercion and threats.

Please join us in calling on President Obama toaffirm this position, prevent a recurrence of the events of 2004, and bringreal change to our relationship with Latin America .



/s                                                                /s 

Raul M.Grijalva                                     Marcy Kaptur

Member ofCongress                             Memberof Congress

Dear President Obama:

As Members of Congress who have been disappointedby many of our nation's foreign policy decisions over the past eight years,we write to extend our support for your vision of a more respectful, less confrontationalrelationship with our neighbors in theAmericas . We also believe thatthe March 2009 presidential election in ElSalvador the first such contest in theWestern Hemisphere since your election in November,will provide a critical opportunity to realize this vision.

We wish to express our support for free and fairelections in El Salvador .To that end, we request your assurance that your administration will joinus in honoring and respecting the will of the Salvadoran people when theygo to the polls on March 15. Furthermore, we call upon allU.S. government officials and Members of Congress to refrain from any attempt,at any point during the campaign, to influence the decision of Salvadoranvoters.

Intervention in theEl Salvador's 2004 election took the form of public statements, made in thedays and weeks leading up to the election, suggesting that U.S.-Salvadoranrelations would be severely damagedin the event of a victory by the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front(FMLN), the opposition party whose candidate is now leading in the pollsfor 2009. Specific threats made by U.S. officials in 2004 alleged that the legal status of Salvadoran immigrantsliving in the U.S. wouldbe jeopardized and remittances sent to ElSalvador by family members in theU.S. could be outlawed ifARENA's candidate were not elected. 

Documentation attached as an addendum to thisletter highlights many of statements made by U.S. officials during ElSalvador 's 2004 campaign, and thecoverage they received in the Salvadoran press.

El Salvador uses the U.S. dollar as its official currency, and theU.S. is by far the country'smost important trade partner. Nearly 25% of ElSalvador s population lives in theUnited States , and the remittances thatthese immigrants send home comprise roughly 20% ofEl Salvador s GDP.

In light of these facts and circumstances, threatsmade by US officials are widely covered in the Salvadoran press and canhave an impact that is hard to overstate.

The interventionist statements and actions of 2004had a serious, coercive effect on the choices made by the Salvadoranelectorate and, even today linger in the minds of Salvadoran voters, as USEmbassy staff in San Salvador admitted to a visiting delegation.

The governing party has encouraged theU.S. government to repeat its intervention in the 2009 campaign. Ia September 2008 speech in Washington, Salvadoran Foreign Minister MarisolArgueta, called for the U.S. government to again tip the scales toward ARENA.

Pro-ARENA television advertisements recapitulatingthe claim that an opposition victory at the polls will cause theU.S. government to outlaw remittances from Salvadoran immigrants are nearlyubiquitous. Similar advertisements and television reports have made use ofstatements by an adviser to the Obama campaign, Dan Restrepo, identifyinghim as an actual official in the Obama Administration, to suggest that youradministration is averse to an election result favoring the FMLN.

These claims and distortions will continue toresonate until they are refuted by words and actions.

As Members of Congress, we reject the threats of2004 and any effort to instigate anotherUS intervention in Salvadoranpolitics. We feel that U.S. immigration policy should not be made into a political instrument used toinfluence foreign elections. Similarly, we reject the suggestion that theUS government would seek to financiallypunish Salvadorans, in this country or inEl Salvador , for exercisingtheir right to elect a government of their choosing. As members ofCongress, we will not support any such measure.

We believe that the proper position of the U.S.Congress and government is one of neutrality and respect forEl Salvador sindependent democratic process, thus allowing the Salvadoran people to makea free choice of personal conscience, a choice which can only be done inthe absence of coercion and threats.

We believe it is essential that theUnited States seize this quickly approachingopportunity to demonstrate that we will not seek to undermine democracy inEl Salvador and LatinAmerica . This is an invaluable, historic opportunity to make aclean break with the past and move with our neighbors into a relationshipbased on mutual respect.

No matter the results ofEl Salvador 's 2009 elections,we look forward to working with the Salvadoran people and their electedrepresentatives to seek a future that holds peace and shared prosperity forboth of our countries. We trust that your administration will join us inthese efforts.


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