Repression in El Salvador--Crisis Update from CISPES
October 10, 2001
RIGHT WING USING "WAR ON TERRORISM"
TO REPRESS SALVADORAN SOCIAL MOVEMENT!
- - SOLIDARITY REQUESTED - -
The Salvadoran government is taking advantage of the US response to
the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Towers and Pentagon to label
its opponents as terrorists and generate an atmosphere of fear and
intimidation within the Salvadoran social movement. For example, on
September 15 there was a protest rally and march in San Salvador,
organized by the social movement, which expressed sympathy for the
victims and had the political message of: No to terrorism, including
state terrorism; Neoliberalism is a form of terrorism; No war as
retaliation! This message differs from the government's unpopular
implementation of neoliberalism - privatize basic services, bust unions,
build more sweatshops - with militarization to back it up. Since the
protest, the government and press have launched a massive misinformation
campaign against members of unions and the FMLN (Left political party),
falsely projecting connections with terrorism. Union members also
report receiving anonymous threats and being followed.
In addition, less than two weeks after the September 11 attacks,
190 airport workers and 100 port workers were fired on the spot. The
airport manager told many security, baggage, and control-tower workers,
most of who were unionized, that they had 15 minutes to either quit the
union or be fired. After the firings, the airport was militarized with
Salvadoran military personnel, and it has so remained since.
Twenty-seven health care workers from the public health care
workers' union (STISSS) have also been suspended. The reason given for
the firings was that the past strike(s) were illegal. However, there
has been no judicial ruling on these strikes, making the suspensions
Union members call on US solidarity to defend their right to organize
and oppose privatization of public services!
They need our support to ensure that the "War on Terrorism" not be used
as an excuse to destroy the social movement!
HELP DEFEND THE SALVADORAN SOCIAL MOVEMENT!
1. E-MAIL US EMBASSY LABOR ATTACHÉ in El Salvador, Julie Schechter,
******* SAMPLE TEXT*********
Ms. Julie Schechter
United States Embassy
San Salvador, El Salvador
Dear Ms. Schechter:
I am writing to you to express my deep concern about the firings of 190
workers at the Comalapa airport and nearly 100 workers at the Acajutla
seaport on September 23rd. The majority of the fired workers were
members of the port workers union SITEAIES These firings blatantly deny
the workers their constitutionally guaranteed right to organize. The
firings are nothing more than union busting by the Salvadoran
government, taking advantage of the tragedy of September 11th, to move
ahead plans to privatize the Comalapa airport and Acajutla sea port.
I also want to raise my deep concern over the illegal suspension of 27
union representatives of STISSS, the social security workers union. They
were unlawfully suspended for labor actions never declared illegal by
any Salvadoran labor court. These actions by the Labor Ministry are a
reprisal by the Salvadoran government against STISSS members for the
attempts to defend the public health care system in El Salvador. It is
also a violation of their rights under Salvadoran labor law.
I call upon you to use your influence with President Francisco Flores
and Labor Minister Jorge Nieto to ensure the demands of the fired and
suspended workers are heard. These demands are:
* Stop the firings of all public sector workers
* The immediate reinstatement of the 290 fired air and sea port workers
and 27 suspended STISSS members
* Stop the privatization of the health care and water systems, the
airport at Comalapa, and the seaport of Acajutla
* Enter into immediate negotiations with STISSS and SITEAIES.
I closely follow the social and labor situation in El Salvador. I also
communicate with my congressional representatives about the situation
and my concerns. I trust we can count upon your support and positive
actions in response to the firing of airport workers and the suspension
of the STISSS members. Thank you for your concern.
2. FAX SALVADORAN PRESIDENT AND LABOR MINISTER
Lic. Francisco Flores, Presidente de El Salvador --- Fax:
Lic. Jorge Nieto, Ministro de Trabajo --- Fax: 011-503-263-5272
******* SAMPLE TEXT*********
Estimado Presidente/ Ministro de Trabajo:
Reciba mis saludos cordiales. Permítame expresarle mi preocupación sobre
los despidos ilegales de 190 trabajadores del aeropuerto en Comalapa, de
aproximadamente 100 trabajadores portuarios en Acajutla el pasado 23 de
septiembre y de la suspensión de 27 miembros del sindicato de
trabajadores del Seguro Social, STISSS, ocurrida la segunda semana de
Los despidos de los trabajadores de puertos y aeropuertos, quienes en su
mayoría son miembros del sindicato SITEAIES, es ilegal. La suspensión de
los miembros del STISSS es también ilegal de acuerdo al código laboral
Salvadoreño ya que no esta avalada por ninguna autoridad judicial.
Me alarma que el gobierno Salvadoreño este utilizando la tragedia del 11
de septiembre y que realice acusaciones de que los trabajadores del
aeropuerto tenían vínculos con los ataques terroristas en los Estados
Unidos. Considero que lo anterior es una cortina de humo para justificar
el plan gubernamental de privatización del aeropuerto y de otros
servicios públicos como la salud y el agua.
De parte de alguien que esta al tanto de la situación laboral en El
Salvador, le solicito que le de respuesta a las siguientes demandas de
Evitar que se sigan despidiendo trabajadores del aeropuerto en
Comalapa y del Puerto de Acajutla.
La inmediata restitución de los aproximadamente 300 trabajadores
despedidos en ambos lugares.
Declarar inmediatamente ilegal la suspensión de 27 trabajadores del
Parar la privatización de los servicios públicos
Iniciar negociaciones con los trabajadores del STISSS y SITEAIES.
Me despido, no sin antes expresarle que sigo muy de cerca el desarrollo
de los derechos humanos y laborales en El Salvador. De igual manera me
mantengo en constante comunicación con mi Congresista sobre lo que allá
ocurre y sobre mis observaciones. Gracias por su atención.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF FAX TO FRANCISCO FLORES & JORGE NIETO
Dear President Flores/Minister Nieto:
Please receive my cordial greetings. I must express my grave concern
over the illegal firings of 190 workers at the Comalapa airport and
nearly 100 workers at the seaport of Acajutla on September 23rd and the
unlawful one month suspension of 27 members of the social security
workers union, STISSS, during the second week of September.
The firing of the air and sea port workers, the majority of whom are
members of the union SITEAIES, is illegal. The suspension of the STISSS
members is also illegal under Salvadoran labor law. As you may be aware,
the suspension of the STISSS workers is illegal under Salvadoran labor
law because no judicial authority declared their actions illegal.
I am shocked the Salvadoran government is using the tragedy of September
11th to make accusations that the fired airport workers were linked to
the terrorist attacks in the U.S. This is nothing more than a smoke
screen to justify your government's plan to privatize the airport and
other public services such as the health care and water system.
As someone concerned with the labor situation in El Salvador, I ask that
you respond to the requests of the workers which are:
* Stop further firings of workers at the airport at Comalapa and the
seaport of Acajutla
* Immediately reinstate the nearly 300 fired workers from Comalapa and
* Immediately end the illegal suspension of the 27 STISSS members
* Stop the privatization of all public services in El Salvador
* Enter into negotiations with the workers of STISSS and SITEAIES
I closely follow the human rights and labor situation in El Salvador. I
also communication with my congressional representatives about these
situations and my concerns. Thank you for your concern.
The Salvadoran social movement - made up of unions, peasants, women,
youth, and others - together with the FMLN have been working and
organizing for many years to develop and implement an economic model
based in social and economic justice. The social movement has support
from the majority of the population and has been gaining strength: they
won a battle against privatization of health care last year with a
four-month strike, and the FMLN has been ahead in opinion polls.
The Right-wing financial sector in El Salvador has been wanting to
privatize the airport for years. The "War on Terrorism" helps them do
that by creating an opening for repression against anyone who opposes
them, such as union workers. They can justify firing workers (most of
whom were openly opposed to privatization), militarizing and privatizing
the airport in order to guarantee security. It is also important to
note that the Salvadoran financial sector has tremendous influence over
Central America and is an important ally for the United States in
implementing regional and hemispheric trade policies, such as Plan
Puebla Panama and the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas). Success
of the social movement makes it much more difficult for the Right to
push forth their economic agenda, so they are trying to use the "War on
Terrorism" as an excuse to destabilize and destroy the Salvadoran social
CISPES - COMMITTEE IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF EL SALVADOR
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