Image: Campesinos and campesinas at the 2nd Gathering of the Popular Movement
On Saturday, October 1, over 2,000 people gathered in San Salvador for the 2nd Gathering of the Popular Movement, titled "Constructing Popular Consciousness to Advance Social Change." Participants came from a broad range of sectors including private and public sector unions, agricultural worker organizations, grassroots community groups, market and street vendor organizations, professional guilds, and youth organizations. Over 65 organizations with a combined base of more than 100,000 people were represented at the event which was organized by the popular movement coaltions the Salvadoran Union Front (FSS), the Coalition for a Safe Country Free of Hunger (CONPHAS), the Social Front for a New Country (FSNP), and the Homeland for Everyone Movement (MPT). As participants registered and took their seats, musical groups entertained them with the historic songs of the Salvadoran revolutionary struggle. To begin the event, those gathered sang El Salvador's National Hymn followed by the Unity Hymn "El Pueblo Unido."
In the weeks prior to the gathering, working groups from the different sectors represented drafted proposals from their sector to present to both the FMLN--who was present at the gathering as an invited guest--and to President Mauricio Funes' administration. The unions' proposal was centered around proposals for policies to protect workers' right to organize (a right that has recently been under attack
) and a staunch rejection of the Public-Private Partnership Law that has been proposed by Funes' Technical Secretary Alex Segovia and that the unions describe as nothing more than an agressive plan to privatize public services. The campesino or agricultural workers sector put forth proposals to continue working with the Ministry of Agriculture to reactivate agricultural production in the country and move towards food sovereignty. Market and street vendors, who brought along a banner that read "Not criminals nor informals, we are the principalpillar of the national economy," put forth proposals for stopping the forced removals of vendors
while improving the security conditions of their work. Regarding the presentation of proposals by the popular movement, event organizer and Salvadoran delegate to the Central American Common Union Platform (PSCC) Onidia Gómez explained "The popular movement is the social movement that is committed to a project of transformation...the struggle has now transcended to a process of transformation."
FMLN Secretary General Medardo González, who was invited by the event organizers, spoke to those gathered, thanking participants for the proposals and reiterating the importance of a consolidated, well-organized, and independent popular movement to advancing the revolutionary process in El Salvador. He spoke about the important gains that have been made with the election of President Mauricio Funes and Vice President Salvador Sánchez Cerén in 2009, but also acknowledged the administration's shortcomings, particularly in continuing the neoliberal economic model that has caused misery and crises throughout the world.
Francisco García, a union organizer, spoke on behalf of the popular movement, calling on those gathered to strengthen popular organizing and develop their consciousness in terms of class struggle. He also called on those gathered to view the FMLN as their political ally. Delegations of popular organizations and political parties from Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras accompanied the gathering.