PRESS RELEASE: International Community denounces violent evictions of vendors executed by NORMAN QUIJANO, MAYOR OF SAN SALVADOR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contacts: In US: Lisa Fuller, Program Director of CISPES, [email protected], +1 (202) 521-2510 In El Salvador: Leah Wilson, CISPES, [email protected], +503 7418-4436
On November 20, twenty-four organizations from the US and Canada sent a letter to the San Salvador City Council and to the Office of the President of El Salvador in which they denounced and demanded justice in the case of violent evictions of vendors executed by the Mayor of San Salvador, Norman Quijano. “We are community-based organizations from across the United States and also Canada and we want to express our indignation over the violent evictions of thousands of vendors carried out by Mr. Quijano,” affirmed Lisa Fuller, Program Director of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), one of the organizations that signed the letter. “We will not remain silent in the face of this attack against the human dignity of San Salvador’s vendors,” continued Fuller.
The letter sent to the San Salvador City Council and to the Office of the President of El Salvador:
Dear President Funes and Mayor Quijano:
As international organizations that have worked for decades for human rights and social justice in El Salvador, we are calling out and demanding justice in the case of the forcible and violent evictions of thousands of vendors carried out by the Mayor of San Salvador, Norman Quijano, in the historic downtown district of the capital on Friday, October 26, 2012.
Without any respect for due process in carrying out the evictions, the Mayor sent 4,000 people hired by the municipal government and 1,000 armed members of the Metropolitan Agents Corps along with 120 trucks and tractors to sack merchandise and dismantle and destroy 970 vendor stalls in the Hula Hula Park, on Arce Street, and in surrounding areas.[i] They were accompanied by the National Civil Police, the riot police, and the Armed Forces.[ii]
After the evictions, the area looked as though a natural disaster had occurred. It was a true scene of chaos and destruction carried out by the municipal government of San Salvador without any remorse in the face of approximately 4,000-7,000 vendors that lost their sources of income and thousands of additional dollars in merchandise and property that was robbed and destroyed.[iii] According to vendor associations, at least three elderly vendors died of shock after seeing their sustenance and their jobs destroyed, a young man was electrocuted and dozens of vendors were wounded while they tried to clear out their stalls.
The evicted vendors are among the 56% of El Salvador’s population that Works in the informal sector [iv], whose numbers have been growing alongside the rates of unemployment and underemployment since the 90s as a result of neoliberal economic policies implemented by former ARENA administrations. The re-organization of vendor stalls in the historic downtown district of San Salvador is a necessity for the security, the health, and the well-being of those who live in the capital, but it should be carried out without violating the rights of the thousands of vendors that work in the downtown district to a source of income. Vendors associations have presented multiple proposals to the municipal government of San Salvador to carry out a re-organization of vendor stalls that offers them viable alternatives to continue selling their merchandise, but Mayor Norman Quijano has not wanted to consider any of the proposals.
Instead of searching for a planned solution that respects the human dignity of the vendors, the Mayor has executed a policy of violent evictions that has left thousands without a way to feed their families.
We, the undersigned international organizations DEMAND:
OF THE MAYOR OF SAN SALVADOR, NORMAN QUIJANO:
- A viable solution agreed to through an open and negotiated process with the participation of the vendor sector that has been left without jobs and with the mediation of a neutral third-party.
- An end to the criminalization of the informal vendor sector.
- Monetary reimbursement to vendors for the property damage occurred and the merchandise lost in the forcible evictions.
OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC, MAURICIO FUNES:
- Facilitation of a negotiated solution between the municipal government and the vendors with the participation of the vendor sector, that guarantees fulfillment of the UN’s Pact on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which prohibits forcible evictions.
- An end to all support for the immoral and improper actions of municipal functionaries by the country’s security forces and Armed Forces.
The international community will be vigilant of this issue and we will continue sharing information about the actions of the Mayor and the President to resolve this problem with the people and elected officials of our own countries.
SANA – Salvadoran-American National Association
[iv] Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica, 24 de septiembre 2011, “Ficha estadística de El Salvador”