National Call-In Day to Congress – Friday, Nov 22
Call on Your Rep to Stand up for Free & Fair Elections in El Salvador TODAY!
Reps. Juan Vargas (D-CA), Mike Honda (D-CA), and Mark Pocan (D-WI) are now circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter to encourage other Representatives to sign on to a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding El Salvador’s February 2 presidential election. The letter calls for the US government to remain neutral, respect the election results, and work toward a positive relationship with whichever party is elected to the presidency. (Download the full text of the letter here.)
With campaign season in full swing in El Salvador, it’s urgent that Members of Congress and the State Department make it clear that February’s election is the decision of the Salvadoran people, not of politicians in Washington. As part of a strong national coalition including the Salvadoran-American Coalition for Democracy in El Salvador (SAMPDES), US-El Salvador Sister Cities, and other groups, we have worked hard to educate dozens of our elected officials across the nation on the threats to democracy in El Salvador’s elections. Now we must call on them to take action!
Contact your Representative TODAY to insist that s/he add his or her name to the Congressional statement in defense of democracy in El Salvador. See the call script and background information below.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
1) Phone calls are the most effective way to ask your Rep to sign on. If you can call today between the hours of 9:30am-5pm EST (6:30am-2pm PST), please do! Call the Congressional switchboard in DC to be transferred to your Representative's office: (202) 224-3121. Ask to speak to the staff person in charge of foreign policy. If that person is not available, leave a voicemail. After you call, let us know how your call went by sending an email to [email protected] or your local CISPES chapter contact. 2) If you are not able to call during the day, you can still take action by sending a message to your Congressperson. Click here to urge your Rep to support democratic elections in El Salvador. 3) Amplify our pressure on Congress by asking your friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers to call their Congresspeople too! Click here to invite people to take action today.
You can use the following script to talk with the congressional aid of your representative. If at any point you get cut off, be sure to make the final statement – “I encourage Representative _____ to sign on to the Dear Colleague letter initiated by Rep. Vargas in support of free and fair elections in El Salvador! ” Here's what to say (the first two paragraphs are the most important):
- “My name is ___________ and I am calling as a constituent from [your city or town] to ask that [Representative's name] sign on to a Congressional letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that has been initiated by Representative Juan Vargas. This letter calls for US neutrality with respect to the upcoming presidential election in El Salvador, and pledges that Members of Congress will seek a positive relationship with whichever party is elected.”
- “To sign on to this letter, please contact Aaron Allen at Representative Vargas’ office. His phone number is (202) 225-8045.”
- “This public neutrality statement is urgently needed. During El Salvador's 2009 presidential campaign, various Republicans in Congress threatened to punish the people of El Salvador if they elected the opposition party's candidate. Fortunately, the Obama administration neutralized these threats by making a clear, public commitment to maintaining positive relationship with whomever the Salvadoran people elected. This was a welcome change from past administrations. It’s important that the State Department once again make this position clear well in advance of any attempts to manipulate or intimidate Salvadoran voters.”
- “Salvadorans, including those living here in the US who will be voting for the first time by absentee ballot, also need to hear a clear message from Congress that assures them they can vote according to their own free will, rather than in response to threats and manipulation from anyone in the US government.”
- “Thank you for your time, and again, I encourage [Representative's name] to sign on to this important statement in support of free and fair elections in El Salvador."
In the lead up to El Salvador’s most recent presidential elections in 2009, Republicans in Congress attempted to intimidate Salvadoran voters into re-electing the right-wing ARENA by threatening to stop the flow of remittances sent home by Salvadorans living in the US and to jeopardize their immigration status in the case of an FMLN victory.
Though similar fear tactics had contributed to an ARENA victory in 2004, our solidarity campaign was successful in pushing Congressional leaders and the Obama administration to effectively neutralize the threats, allowing Salvadorans to vote their conscience without fear of US reprisals. US Congressional allies of the right-wing ARENA party are already attempting to smear the leftist FMLN candidate. A recent letter from Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Albio Sires (D-NJ) - the chair and ranking member of the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - appears to be setting the stage to delegitimize the results in the event of an FMLN victory in 2014. The upcoming elections will be the first presidential contest where the country’s leftist FMLN is the incumbent party. The right-wing is desperate to stop the FMLN’s momentum and is currently laying the groundwork to challenge the electoral results, much like they did with the election of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. Salvadoran voters –including those living here in the US who will be able to vote by absentee ballot for the first time in February - are awaiting assurance that the US will respect their right to elect their own president, free from outside manipulation. Call on your Congressperson to assert that the US must respect the democratic will of the Salvadoran people.