Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Repression in El Salvador--Crisis Update from CISPES

Expand Messages
  • C.I.S.P.E.S.
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 11, 2001

      October 10, 2001


      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!

      1. E-MAIL US EMBASSY LABOR ATTACHÉ in El Salvador, Julie Schechter,

      ******* SAMPLE TEXT*********
      Ms. Julie Schechter
      Labor Attaché
      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.

      Sincerely yours,

      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
      los trabajadores:
      • 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.



      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.

      Sincerely yours,


      Brief Background:

      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

      <lacispes@...> 323-852-0721 <donwhite4justice@...>
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.