CISPES members welcome Sánchez Cerén in Santa Cruz
by Janette Linares, Santa Cruz CISPES Santa Cruz County
On August 24 and 25, city leaders and elected officials welcomed Salvador Sánchez Céren, Vice President of El Salvador and presidential candidate for the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party. In addition to meetings with California state elected officials and mayors to develop and maintain amicable relationships between both countries, Sánchez Cerén also made time to converse with CISPES members from Santa Cruz. Key issues discussed with Sánchez Cerén included immigrant justice, state legislation that would guarantee immigrants the right to obtain driver licenses, and a raise in the minimum wage.
"I think it's only natural that the Vice President come here to the community to see how we can work and create a great relationship between California and El Salvador," said State Assemblyman Luis Alejo. The Vice President was recognized by several democratic representatives, including State Senator Bill Monning, who welcomed Salvador by saying: "we are honored to have you with us, you are someone who shares our democratic principles. California values peace and progress in El Salvador.” A representative for US Representative Sam Farr also thanked Vice President Sánchez Céren for his role in signing the 1992 Peace Accords that ended El Salvador’s brutal 12-year civil war, and presented him with a special Congressional Recognition. The Vice President also thanked Rep. Farr and other democrats for taking a stand against the smear campaign led by the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party in the last presidential elections of 2009.
During his short visit, Vice President Sánchez Cerén was also present for an official declaration of August 6 as “El Día del Salvadoreño (Salvadoran People’s Day)” in Watsonville, CA and its establishment as a sister city with San Pedro Masahuat, in the province of La Libertad, El Salvador. The Vice President accepted a key to the city from Watsonville Mayor, Lowell Hurst.
As FMLN presidential candidate, Sánchez Cerén assured the Salvadoran community and elected officials that he would win the upcoming February 2014 presidential elections, and continue to work to create new opportunities for all Salvadorans.
During this visit, a group of CISPES Santa Cruz members, who participated in the 2012 and 2013 Literacy Brigades, had the opportunity to share our experience with him. The Vice President, who was the Minister of Education at the time who launched the national adult literacy program in El Salvador, expressed great appreciation for the dedication, work and support CISPES has given to the program. As a member of this year’s Literacy Brigade, I expressed how inspired I was by the program. Witnessing the immense results the program was creating was very moving. Ultimately, I shared my gratitude to him for implementing and becoming a key supporter of such an impactful national program. Sánchez Cerén with members of CISPES in Santa Cruz