FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: US Organizations Denounce US Embassy’s Pressure for Public Private Partnership Law

Press Release

Tuesday, March 12, 2013. SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador - Representatives of US solidarity organizations the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), US-El Salvador Sister Cities, the Joining Hands Network, Voices on the Border and the SHARE Foundation joined hundreds of union activists from the Salvadoran Union Front as they marched to the US Embassy in San Salvador to denounce Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte's pressure on the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly to approve a Public-Private Partnership law that faces strong opposition from the Salvadoran labor movement. Earlier in the morning, representatives of the US organizations presented a petition signed by over 1,000 US residents calling on Ambassador Aponte to cease her intervention in El Salvador's internal affairs. After the march arrived at the Embassy, representatives of the US organizations read the following statement to the press:

For decades, the US organizations the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), US-El Salvador Sister Cities, the Joining Hands Network, Voices on the Border and the SHARE Foundation have accompanied the Salvadoran social movement in its efforts to construct a country with social and economic justice, free of interference from foreign governments, especially the US government.

This morning, we are here in front of our government’s Embassy, representing the members of our respective organizations, having just presented a petition signed by more than 1,000 US citizens and residents denouncing the our government and our Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte’s intervention in direct violation of the Salvadoran people’s sovereignty.

Currently, El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly is debating a Public-Private Partnership law. This proposed law was written by the Salvadoran government and advisors from the US Treasury Department as an initiative of the Partnership for Growth, a bilateral economic agreement between the US and El Salvador.

The Public-Private Partnership law faces a strong opposition from El Salvador’s unions and social movements who claim it is a new form of privatization that would offer everything – from the ports, airports, highways and generation of electricity to municipal services, water, prisons and the National University – for auction to private sector bidders, favoring transnational and US companies. In addition to questioning it for possible violations of El Salvador’s Constitution, Salvadoran workers know from past privatizations and concessions that this proposed law would be harmful for public sector workers and would cause increases in the costs of basic services for the Salvadoran people.

We are very concerned that the US Ambassador, Ms. Mari Carmen Aponte, is vigorously pressuring El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly to approve the Public-Private Partnership law in spite of the outcry of Salvadoran civil society, which opposes the law. The Ambassador has even threatened the approval of a second Millennium Challenge Corporation project, a development aid project financed with the tax-dollars of US citizens and residents, if the Legislative Assembly doesn’t approve this law.

Ms. Aponte’s pressure and threats represent a clear violation of the sovereign democratic processes of El Salvador. The legislators in the Legislative Assembly should respond only to the interests of the Salvadoran people and El Salvador’s Constitution, and not have to make decisions out of fear of US government reprisals. Furthermore, we are outraged that the Ambassador would use funds that come from our tax-dollars to manipulate the internal processes and decisions of the Salvadoran government.

Throughout the United States, workers, unions, community organizations, labor councils and congressional representatives have learned of the Ambassador’s interventionist actions, and are sending letters and making phone calls to her to demand that she stop interfering in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs.

We demand that the role of our government and our Embassy in El Salvador be one of respect and support for the Salvadoran people, and not a prepotent role that puts the interests of US and transnational companies over the rights of Salvadoran workers and families.

Therefore, this morning we have presented a petition signed by more than 1,000 US citizens and residents that demands that the Ambassador:

  1. Stop using international aid money to manipulate El Salvador’s sovereign democratic process, and
  2. Stop pressuring the Salvadoran government to pass the Public-Private Partnership law.

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