Alert! Salvadoran Police and Military Repress Rural Community Working to Defend Water Resources
Join CISPES and thousands more from November 16-18 at the annual protest of the School of the Americas, the precursor to the Salvadoran ILEA
In the Salvadoran department of Santa Ana, residents of Cutumay Camones have been peacefully resisting the illegal construction of a garbage dump in their community for the past months. The resistance comes as the construction of the dump will contaminate the only water source and create a series of health problem for 10 communities who obtain their water from this site. In August, the military and the police violently entered the community and have remained since then as if their job was to protect the interests of the private company.
In the previous two months, the Environmental Ministry was at fault for granting the private company Presys with the construction permits they needed to build the dump despite their permit application lacking required information. The application did not have an adequate environmental impact report and was in violation of Article 25 of the Environmental Law, which demands that the public be consulted on any such project. Not only is the construction of the dump illegal, it is being rejected by the community who was not consulted as the Environmental Law dictates.
On October 12, police attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets, wounding many people. Then on October 25 the community was victim of another violent attack by the riot police. While the police and military remain in the area the community fears a military intervention. Media footage of the repressive police actions has been widely distributed, alerting the international community of these violent attacks and revealing the excess force of the riot police acted. You can see a video of the attack here.
The Santa Ana mayor has threatened that if the community maintains their resistance, the riot police (UMO) will continue to intervene. Various social organizations, including the Water Workers Union SETA, are aware of the threat the community is facing, and have expressed their solidarity to the community by organizing a series of actions to denounce the military and police repression. The people of Cutumay Camones have pledged to continue their struggle to protect the health of their families and their vital water source despite threats, violent attacks, and a dirty campaign against community leaders,. Some community leaders have begun a hunger strike and will be relieved by others in the days to come.
The United States government has a responsibility to speak out against US-trained riot police who are targeting civilians in El Salvador. The Salvadoran government continues to bolster the repressive National Civil Police through the US-sponsored International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA). Your action is critical in defending peaceful resistance, in solidarity with those who are struggling to keep water accessible and public in El Salvador (see below)!
1. Fax and email Minister of Security Rene Figueroa to demand the immediate withdrawal of military and police from the community Cutumay Camones. See below for sample letter and contact information.
2. Call the State Department and demand that the United States government hold the Salvadoran government accountable for these acts. Contact Jeremy Cornforth at the U.S. State Departments El Salvador desk at 202-647-3505. See below for sample script
3. Please join CISPES and thousands more from November at the annual protest of the School of the Americas, the precursor to the Salvadoran ILEA. Find out about the exciting events CISPES is participating in at the SOA here.
Sample letter to e-mail or fax to Minister of Security Rene Figueroa and National Police Director Rodrigo Avila
Minister of Security Rene Figueroa
Sr. Ministro de Seguridad Rene Figueroa (cc Sr. Director de la Policía Rodrigo Ávila)
Conozco el caso de violencia policial en contra de los habitantes de la comunidad Cutumay Camones quienes pacíficamente estaban impidiendo la construcción de un basurero que contaminara la única fuente de agua que abastece a 10 comunidades. Da lastima ver el retroceso que la Policía Nacional Civil esta teniendo con relación a los Acuerdos de Paz, ya que esta fue creada para aplicar las leyes de la nación, no para reprimir junto con las fuerzas armadas las resistencias pacificas de la población.
Si a puras penas estas comunidades están sobreviviendo dentro de la situación económicamente pésima en la que se vive en El Salvador lo último que los habitantes necesitan es que se les contaminen su única fuente de agua y que después sean obligados a comprar el vital líquido. Después de haber violado el artículo 25 de la Ley del Medio Ambiente donde se establece que la población debe de ser consultada en proyectos como ese, la única forma de expresión es la resistencia pacifica.
En vez de mantener su carácter civil y de servicio a la población la policía salvadoreña se ha vuelto un arma en contra de la sociedad civil perdiéndose cada día más la razón por la que fue creada en los Acuerdos de Paz. Ahora defiende los intereses privados de la compañía Presys y ataca violentamente con gases lacrimógenos y balas de goma a la gente que tiene que por obligación proteger. Por lo tanto le pido que retire de la comunidad a la policía y a las fuerzas armadas, que la policía cumpla con su misión de proteger al pueblo salvadoreño y que no vuelva a atacar ninguna otra resistencia pacifica como la de Cutumay Camones. Finalmente pedimos que la policía deje de ser entrenada en la ILEA debido a que el índice de represión por parte de la policía a incrementado desde que están siendo entrenados en la academia.
______________ (city, state, country)
You can use the following script to talk to Mr. Cornforth
1) Im calling because I am very concerned about the police attack on the peaceful protesters from the Cutumay Camones community who were resisting the construction of a garbage dump which will contaminate their only water resource.
2) The Salvadoran police violently attacked the peaceful community resistance shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at close range injuring several residents within the community, and media correspondents.
3) The Salvadoran National Police reaction raises serious concerns on human rights and the freedom of organization and expression.
4) The U.S. government has publicly supported the Salvadoran government in militarizing and indoctrinating the Salvadoran police against its people including supporting the approval of the anti-terrorism law in September 2006.
5) It is extremely important that the U.S. stand up for human rights everywhere and not let peaceful resistance be criminalized in the name of a fight against terrorism. For that reason the US should stop the training of the Salvadoran police in the International Law Enforcement Academy - ILEA.
For more information, see www.cispes.org