Water March in San Salvador on World Water Day; A Visit to the ILEA Police School


"Four Horsemen of the Waterpocalypsis" at World Water Day in San Salvador

March 22 was World Water Day, celebrated in the streets of San Salvadorat a protest of approximately five thousand people from unions, socialorganizations and other organized communities. The protest wasparticularly creative as the "Four Horsemen of the Waterpocalypsis"(High Cost of Water, Unjust Distribution of Water, Contaminated Waterand Environmental Destruction) rode along the streets representing thecurrent water crisis in the country. For over two years the waterworkers union SETA has been building a national campaign to bringpeople together across the country to stop the privatization of water,and last week‘s protest marked an important landmark in theirorganizing campaign.

The director of the government‘s Water Administration Office, Cesar Funes, has said since last November that his water law proposal is ready to be presented to the Legislative Assembly. However, because of increasing mobilizations against the privatization of water the government appears to be delaying the process. The coordinators of the protest announced there will be continued efforts to organize communities to defend their right to water and to stop the right-wing ARENA party‘s privatization efforts in the coming months.

ILEA: "Building a safe El Salvador for foreign investment"

Two weeks after the Salvadoran legislature approved funding for the construction of a new facility for the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), a joint delegation of CISPES and SOA Watch visited the provisional ILEA facility in El Salvador. The visitors met with a U.S. State Department official as well as Deputy Director of the ILEA Javier Jaquez, who is based at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador. Jaquez described the ILEA as "similar to liberal arts education in the United States" for police officers and anyone involved in law enforcement, and said that the goal of the ILEA is to contribute to creating a safe El Salvador so as to attract more foreign investment.

Jaquez and the other U.S. official had clearly prepared their position about the ILEA being different from the School of the Americas (SOA), and they repeatedly insisted that the ILEA was not an extension of the SOA. Nonetheless, they refused to make any guarantees about whether or not military personnel would give or receive training at the ILEA. The delegation also did not receive any more specific information about the content of the classes, the names of the instructors, or the mechanisms for monitoring the conduct of the graduates upon their leaving the ILEA. Father Roy Bourgeois of SOA Watch expressed his concern about the similarities in discourse and tactics between the School of the Americas and the ILEA. CISPES has mounted a campaign to pressure Congress to cut funding to the ILEA and plans to visit the facility again in April. For more information go to www.cispes.org/ilea .

27th Anniversary of Archbishop Romero‘s Assassination

Hundreds of Salvadorans commemorated the 27th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero at a series of activities throughout the country. To see an article published by CISPES about Romero‘s legacy today go to http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/673/1/ .

Parallel to the commemorations, Robert White, the former U.S. Ambassador during the 1980‘s in El Salvador, held a forum in which he stated that declassified CIA and U.S. State Department documents confirmed that the mastermind behind Romero‘s murder was Roberto D‘Aubuisson, founder of the death squads and the ARENA party. At a press conference, White presented pages torn out of a notebook belonging to Alvaro Saravia — a military captain involved in Romero‘s assassination — that kept track of individuals‘ financial support for the death squads. These documents, he said, prove that ARENA founders were financing death squads and that D‘Aubuisson was directly involved in Romero‘s murder. White went on to express his dismay at ARENA‘s attempt to give D‘Aubuisson a special legislative honor this past month. Both ARENA party leaders and conservative Archbishop of San Salvador Saenz Lacalle have denied White‘s accusations and have attacked him by questioning his motives.

CAFTA Constitutionality will be addressed by Supreme Court

The FMLN party announced this week that the Salvadoran Supreme Court has agreed to hear 14 out of 30 legal challenges regarding the unconstitutionality of the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA. In the case presented by the FMLN in 2005, the party asserts that CAFTA imposes unequal treatment and disadvantages for local producers, interferes with the integration process of Central American economies, and violates the Salvadoran constitution by taking away power from the Legislative Assembly as the body that establishes tariffs and trade policies. Salvador Sanchez Ceren, head of the FMLN‘s Legislative Fraction, stated that if the Court rules in favor of the legal complaints, CAFTA would have to be renegotiated or repealed.

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